Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Driving Under the Influence

This past July (oh lordy that was a lifetime ago) I was issued a traffic ticket, my first in about twenty years. When I saw the lights flashing in my review mirror it scared me because I didn’t have a clue what I had done wrong. I was driving at the speed limit on a street I had driven down almost every day for the last sixteen years. I pulled over and waited for the deputy sheriff to lean down and speak to me. She was a plump blonde woman, very young very polite and to the point, “Do you know why I pulled you over, ma’am?”
“Um…actually I don’t have a clue.”
“You failed to stop at that stop sign”
that’s impossible! I have stopped at that stop sign for sixteen years, sheesh there’s a school up one street and the community pool up the other, I could mow down a kid if I didn’t stop!
“Did you stop at the stop sign?”
I know I looked at her like she had two heads because I thought it was a silly question. “Well…if you didn’t see me stop then I suppose I didn’t stop.” I’m very distracted today; a week ago my fourteen year old had his wisdom teeth out and he’s still in a lot of pain and feels like crap; my stupid ex husband and his nasty wife kicked my nineteen year old out; and he just announced his ship date was moved up and he leaves for Georgia in about six weeks rather than in twelve weeks. Did I mention my job really sucks right now?
“Do you have your proof of insurance?” well f*ck me runnin’, no I don’t have my proof of insurance, and it’s at home on my kitchen table. Let’s see if I can remember the big ass speech I gave my son about always always always ALWAYS have your proof of insurance in the car because just this minute I need to hear it!
“I’m not sure, can I look for it?” The very polite officer allowed me to toss my car looking for my proof of insurance and alas and alack the only one I found was a year old even after I did everything but tear out the carpet and rip open the seats.
“Ma’am this is a year old.”
“I know” I sighed, “Can we call my insurance agent, and you can confirm I’m insured?”
“No, but you can go to court on this date and then you can prove you have insurance. And thank you for not lying to me.”
thank you for not lying to you? Are you high? Why the hell would I lie to a sheriff’s deputy? People lie to you? People blatantly run stop signs and do illegal maneuvers and then lie about it? Are they high? Dude, you have so much power in that little notebook that the last thing I’m going to do is lie to you. (Obviously, I’m not one of these people who cries or acts stupid to get out of tickets.)

So yesterday morning I had my day in court, it was the first day of autumn, snow on the mountains, errant flakes driven by a damp cold wind hitting my face as I walked into the court house. I gulped when I saw my name was the first on the arraignment list. I was being arraigned . Damn, when I saw I was being arraigned I felt like I should have brought F. Lee Bailey’s protégé or something for this serious business. I checked in with a clerk who looked--I swear this is not an exaggeration-- eerily like Della Street’s older sister. There were only five of us to be arraigned that day and the other four were my children’s age. I was the only matron jailbird in the bunch. Della Street gave us a copy of our rights and I was immediately fascinated I could plead guilty by reason of insanity, for a moving violation! Awesome! I wonder if anyone has ever done that. I imagined the look on the judge’s face when I told him I ran the stop sign because I was insane. “Ok, Your Honor, I wasn’t actually insane, insane. Have you ever had teenagers? I mean those people are enough to drive you OVER THE EDGE! And I was at the edge of the brink that day with the Ward and Alexis Asshat Show much less dealing with two teenaged boys. You know it’s just amazing I didn’t wreck the car. . .“ Ummmm probably not a good idea to plead insanity. I could also plead “no contest” because this wasn’t really a moving violation because I rolled through the stop sign. I know I rolled through it because if I had driven through that tight corner I would have toppled the Mitz onto it‘s right side. You can‘t take a corner like that at 30 in one of those things without terrible repercussions. No Contest seemed like the better option because Reason by Insanity could also mean a 72 hour M1 hold, and my State Nursing Board frowns on nurses having M1 holds on their medical records. Besides, they might decide to keep me and the mental health option on my health insurance is probably the most craptastic in the industry (aside from Medicaid which is next to nothing but I’ve already beaten that dead horse with a few sticks). My final option was the least amusing but the most sound: just plead guilty, pay the fine and eat the insurance points for failure to stop at a stop sign. I quietly tallied how much money I had and said good bye to the new shoes and jeans I wanted as I listened to the names being called and people were ushered into a room to discuss their cases with an associate DA who looked fresh out of law school and probably had visions of being Mayor or God or something. After they had their little face to faces with Doogie Houser Esq, they quietly walked into the courtroom, tails between legs. I was really nervous about all of this failiing to have insurance is a really serious offense(OMG as it should be!) and if proof isn't valid, too bad. One of my co-workers--a hot 40ish blonde MILF type, told me this would be a piece of cake, just show up and they will dismiss the ticket, she had done it a few times over the years. Well, yeah of course it was thrown out, look at you! was my response. Oh no, she insisted, that county’s DA is really easy-going. When it was finally my turn and I followed him into a little office trying to look law abiding and NOT my usual bitchy MO.

“So Ms Cleaver, you failed to stop at a stop sign, is this true?”
“Yes it is.” rolled, I rolled through the intersection, an intersection I have pointedly stopped at for years. . .
“And you didn’t have proof of insurance. Did you have insurance on this date?” He looks at me like he wants to give me the chair because I had left my effin’ insurance card on the kitchen table.
“Sir, I’ve had auto insurance since I was sixteen” I pushed the card over to him.
“It appears you did have insurance.”
yay! He can read!,
“How is your driving record?”
“Oh you clever boy, I know you have my driving record resting in your hand. What kind of idiot would sit opposite you and lie. This is another chance to be caught in a lie and then you send me into the court room to get scolded by a judge. I know this game, sonny. ( I wonder what he would have done if I had said: Let‘s see, over the past ten years I have been issued fourteen DUI‘s; one night I was going 120 and when they finally caught me I was given a speeding ticket; I ran over a small child; and I’m wanted in California for a minor little road rage incident involving a hand gun and a fist fight.
“I haven’t had a ticket since about 1987”
“How are your points?” He leans towards me and glares when he asks me this. I thought any minute he was going to hand me a phone so I can hear Beav pleading with me to tell the truth so they won’t kill him. I’m thinking Doogie's nanny let him watch too many LA Law episodes on Lifetime television when he was 12 and I’ve watched too many conspiracy flicks on TNT.
“I don’t think I have any points on my license.”
“That’s correct, Ms. Cleaver, you don’t!” So now he is morphing into Monty Hall. I can hear the DING DING DING and applause in the background, pretty purple, green and red lights are flashing because I’ve just picked door number two and I get a new washer/dryer, a year’s supply of Rice-a-Roni and a Dismissal!
“I’m dismissing this.”
“So I don’t have to pay a fine for the moving violation and I’m not getting any points?” I’m feeling paranoid, this was way too easy. He didn’t really dismiss it and next week there will be a warrant out for my arrest.
“Just be a better driver!” He said peering down at me like I’m NOT old enough to be his mother.
Be a better driver? Look you little bug, I taught my oldest son to drive and I’m teaching the other one to drive. . .don’t tell me to be a better driver…if you want to be all bad ass why don’t you get a real lawyer’s job. . .

“Thank you, sir I will.”

So it was dismissed I didn’t have to plead insane or no contest or even sit in the courtroom. I can buy new jeans! And shoes!

Life is sweet sometimes, innit?

No comments: