Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Traffic School

You know how when you are driving with your mother-in-law in her car, and it’s your turn to drive, and minutes after you get behind the wheel you’re telling a really funny story and not paying attention to exactly how fast you’re going on the ridiculously straight and deserted downhill stretch of highway in the middle of nowhere, so because the fact that it’s not your car and you had no idea how fast it could go without feeling like it was going very fast at all should really be a very compelling reason why the cop should be lenient and just let you off with a warning, and besides, it’s a small car, and small cars always look like they’re going faster than they really are, so that probably totally messes with the accuracy of the laser radar, and also because it was a really funny story and the blue lights and sirens really kind of killed the punchline, which is really punishment enough, don’t you think?


The cop didn’t either.

So there I was, out in the middle of the desert, the proud owner of a yellow citation documenting the fact that my mother-in-law’s car, while more than a few years old, can go slightly faster than the speed of sound.

(By the way, if you happen to be from my insurance company, this story is totally fabricated. All lies. Just for fun. Not that I’m a liar, though. I mean, this is just artistic license. I’ve never lied to you guys about anything, including my annual mileage, or how that very minor house fire got started, and I’ve never even been on Highway 41 near Avenal, CA, and I’ve certainly never had any contact whatsoever with CHP Officer Kennedy, badge number 16452. So, you can probably just stop reading now and go on about your busy day. OK? Great. All my best.)

“Call the number at the bottom of the ticket in about a month,” said the friendly CHP officer.
“A month?”
“Yes, we’re very backed up.”
“Well, I mean, if everything is so backed up, I see no reason why we should clog the system any more with this one?”
“Have a nice day, sir, and drive safe.”
(grumble, grumble) “You too!”

Very backed up, huh? So you’re telling me I’m not the only one who’s been blindsided by this infernal middle of nowhere/downhill/someone else’s car trifecta of bad luck?

Maybe we could spend some of this ticket revenue on a flashing “Watch Your Downhill Speed” warning sign or something.

Or I guess maybe I could learn to watch my own damn downhill speed. Oh, well.

So I called the Kings County Superior Court about a month later. They told me they were still very backed up and I should call them back in three weeks. Three weeks later they told me to call back in two weeks. Wow, does that cop out there ever get a coffee break? Two weeks later they told me to call back in two weeks. (I am not making this up.) Three weeks later my ticket was finally in their system.

Wow, three hundred dollars? That’s great. What a deal. Hang on, let me do some math… You guys should really hire more people to process that backlog of yours, because if my quick calculations are correct, Officer Kennedy out there is making you guys about six thousand dollars an hour.

The good news? My request for Traffic School has been approved!

I sent extra money in to be able to go to traffic school because: “If you do not attend a traffic course and return your Certificate of Completion to the court by the due date listed above, a conviction will be reported to the DMV.”

Now, I couldn’t really care less what the nice folks at the Kings County Superior Court report to the nice folks at the DMV. They can tell them I speed recklessly all over the country. They can tell them I have no regard for the rules of the road or the law in general. They can even tell them I’m a huge Justin Bieber fan. What do I care?

I’ll tell you what I do care about, though. I do care about what the nice folks at the DMV might tell the nice folks at my insurance company.

(And again, if you happen to be one of the nice folks from my insurance company and you’re still reading, please keep in mind that this is all just a big, fun, harmless, made-up story, but again, the fact that I’m making up this tall tale does not in any way mean that I am a serial liar who would ever even entertain the thought of giving you less than one hundred percent of the facts when it comes to our treasured (and, might I add, very much appreciated on this end) insurance relationship.)

So, traffic school it is. I have been given three choices for attending a classroom-based traffic school, but I think in my case it’s really only two choices since one of them is La Academia de Trafico en Espanol. Unfortunately, the two presumably English-based schools are in Hanford, CA and Lemoore, CA. Notwithstanding the fact that both of those cities are actually just 10,000-cow dairy farms with a post office, they are also both a seven-hour round trip from my house. I could probably do it in about five hours or so, but that’s how I got into this predicament in the first place.

(Again, insurance folks, please ignore that last comment.)

Luckily, I have been given the option of completing my traffic school obligation online. Kings County included a handy list of my approved online options. And by a list, what I mean is a legal-size sheet of paper with three columns of website addresses covering the entirety of the front and back, listed in no discernible alpha or numeric order, in what appears to be negative twelve-point font. The font is so small, it just looks like three columns of smudges.

There are at least seven hundred and fifty online companies listed on this single piece of paper. I’m not making that up. I got a magnifying glass and figured out how many companies per inch were listed, then measured the paper.

Just in the upper right corner, in the first half-inch, my magnifying glass shows that my choices include “,” “,” “,” “,” “,” “,” and “”

What fun-sounding options those are, just in that half-inch. And that’s literally just a half-inch of my choices in literally five and a half feet of list. I am not making that up. I wish I was.

And I have to read and pick from this list, because if I Googled a traffic school that had good recommendations (like that would ever happen), and then tried to make sure it was on this list so it counted, I would still be trying to find it on this completely random list when it was time for my great-grandkids to take away my car keys anyway.

I guess I’ll just pick one. At this point it’s a toss-up between Big Mama and Atomic. I’ll let you know.

If we can’t get a big flashing “SLOW DOWN” sign out on Highway 41, maybe we could spend some of this ticket revenue on larger font. Or maybe alphabetizing.

Just a thought.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen

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