Thursday, April 23, 2009
A Tale of Two Tickets
Once upon a time it was 26 February 2009. I was running quite late to a group meeting at school (I feel bad being late to these meetings, even though this last semester required soooo many of them, and my group understood I had the commute, but I still wanted to be on time). Just heading down the road in Pleasant Grove on the way to the freeway entrance, when I noticed a cop car right there on the side of the road. I hadn't realized I was speeding, but immediately slowed down, but not soon enough, since the lights came on, the siren sounded and I was pulled over. Cop-in-Training and her illustrious trainer wrote me up the ticket and hopefully met their quota for that day. I'm a grown-up, I can accept that I was speeding and deal with the consequences (even though if there hadn't been training going on, and if either of them actually knew what they were doing, I might have been let off with a warning, since the roads were deserted and it was still quite early). They offered me the option of traffic school, which I was glad to take, but there's a catch, and evidently only here in Pleasant Grove, which I will outline shortly... I moved on, I drove cautiously, I watched my speed, etc. etc.
Flash forward four weeks (there was no way I was going to traffic school on the day they had available while Julie was in town), when I was yet again heading to school, just the tiniest bit late. As I was slowly passing the junction where I had been previously pulled over, I said to myself, with a grim chuckle, "Wouldn't it be so funny if I were pulled over on the very day I have to go to traffic school?" Of course, such a thing wouldn't have been funny at all, and, as I found out not five minutes later, it certainly was NOT funny. On the road leading right up to the onramp, I saw an obstruction in the road. A cop had parked his car in the right lane with his lights on, and standing in the left lane, letting some cars pass and waving others to park on the curb of the road off to the right. I was among these (along with two others), and he proceeded to write us each and all a speeding ticket...
Allow me to rant a minute here. Like I said, I had been driving quite cautiously after my most recent incident, carefully observing the speed limits. Why didn't I "learn my lesson" the first time, some have asked me? I did. On this most bright and sunny morning when I and two others were singled out for no apparent reason by a cop picking us out of the crowd like a raptor, I was easily following the flow of traffic. One of his cohorts must have been a mile or two back on the road and calling in license plate numbers, it's the only solution I can think of, how he would know who to pull over, even though the entire selection process, as I said, seems to have been arbitrary. I guess I was made an example of on this day. I explained to him very nicely how I've been so careful lately because of my recent incident and asked him please for a warning this one time, but he explained oh so eloquently that he had already written tickets for the other two people parked behind me, so if he took mine off he would have to take theirs off. This is the weakest explanation ever, man. Just tell me I earned my ticket and hand it over if you're going to, don't make up some lamesauce reason.
So that night, I left school early to make it back to the Pleasant Grove library for the most thrilling two hours of my entire life--traffic school. Now, although I haven't been ticketed for a moving violation in probably five years, there was a time when I attended a session or two of traffic school, and as I said, there is something certainly different about PG's way of doing things in this department. Originally you could either just pay the ticket and take the ding on your record and/or insurance, or you could pay the traffic school enrollment fee and forego having any ramifications on your record. The city still gets their money, and you have a few options with which to be served your consequences. Gone are these days. You pay your way to traffic school, sure enough, but now you have to pay the traffic school fee and the ticket. (The fact that no other cities in the surrounding areas have this system was brought up in the class, to no satisfactory explanation.) We suspect the PGPD is looking to up their income or something, and this theory was confirmed to me when I walked into the basement theater of that library and found a SRO situation with over 120 people. As I said, I've been to traffic school before--there area a handful, maybe even a dozen people there, hating their life temporarily, sitting through the guilt-trip and boring statistics, and looking to get on with their life. This time the class was largely the same, but the class size was vastly different. I tried to calculate just how much they made from that one session of traffic school, but I decided I didn't want to fuel my anger on this day any more than it already was. To make matters worse, the class was much longer than it needed to be due to certain individuals asking question after inane, unnecessary question. *sigh*
Then, not even two weeks later I went to sign up for traffic school yet again, since, after all, it had been offered to me as an option to keep my record clear. Imagine my surprise when my ticket had been processed prematurely, and not only that, but when they pulled it out, it had been marked with a great big "Ineligible" across the top. Apparently (though no one in that office seemed to know for sure... seriously, get it together, people) you can only attend traffic school every six months (or something). I personally think that whether or not the cop knew that I was planning on attending traffic school that night, if he offered me traffic school, I should be afforded the opportunity (wouldn't it have shown up on my record when he took a million hours looking me up in his car?). As it was, I guess I had no option but to take the hit this time and grumble about my fate. I hate to complain, but I seriously feel I was misinformed and singled out this time. I can take my medicine, but I usually prefer to do so when I'm actually sick.
Not only that, but when I paid the first time they told me they don't take the perfectly valid American Express card I had with me!!! WTH kind of establishment is this anyway?
Well done, Pleasant Grove, you managed to procure some cash out of this pocket. I hope you use it to look for some people actually endangering the lives of the fair city's citizens. I don't know if your purpose is to make drivers cautious or just paranoid, but if it's the latter, congratulations, I'm certainly driving most uncomfortably these days.