A real patriot is the fellow who gets a… ticket and rejoices that the system works. – Bill Vaughan
I am a good girl.
I am responsible.
I believe in rules. Okay, it’s true, I do break rules when they don’t make any sense and it doesn’t hurt anyone.
I believe the police are officers of the law.
I believe jury duty is my civic duty.
I vote. Even in, especially in local elections.
I play it safe. I look left, then right, then left again. I come to complete stops. I watch for children in unexpected places. I do not cut across parking lots.
I am a good citizen.
So why am I angry?
I got a ticket for speeding in a school zone at 8:30 in the morning.
I wasn’t there at 8:30 AM in the morning. I swear. I stepped out my door at 8:30. I helped Duckie get in the car, get her wheelchair in, and load my bike on the car-carrier. Impossible for me to be in the school zone at 8:30.
I was running late. I did remind myself to watch for school buses. Duckie was talking a blue streak.
I saw the squad car in my rear-view mirror. The speed-limit posted, right there where I was: 45 mph.
I was going 40 mph.
I humbly took the ticket without reading it.
Before speaking ask yourself three questions:
Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it necessary?
I departed in silence.
I read the ticket: “speeding 20 mph over posted active school zone. Children unloading.”
There were no children unloading. I swear. I drive by the school all the time. I believe the lights were off. A car struck my own daughter when she was in junior high school. I never want to be on the driver’s side of that kind of accident. Or even close. I am careful in school zones. I have children and grandchildren. I know the area. I know it was after 8 AM. I know there were no children in the school yard. I was watching.
I AM NOT GUILTY.
I decide to collect evidence.
Can I even get up to 40 mph from the traffic light where I stopped before I turned left and headed toward the school? Yes, I can.
What are the conditions at 8:30 AM? I staked-out the area. At 8:30 AM there are so many buses and cars at that stretch of the road, I cannot drive over 20 mph if I want to. It is too congested; stop and go, mostly stop. At 8:40 a few cars, late arrivals, pull in and drop kids off at the door. By 8:45 there are no buses, no cars, no children. The officer pulls a car over at 8:48. The light switches off at 8:50 AM. I document everything.
Are the caution lights turned on by timers? Yes they are. The lights go off at exactly 8:50 every school day.
The only piece of evidence I have to stand on is the time, manually written, and my word.
I plan to plead not-guilty on principle alone. I know the truth. I was not there at 8:30; no children were unloading. Unless the officer chooses to stay away from court, I will be found guilty anyway. I have no hard evidence.
I read the fine print. If I plead guilty, I must go to trial. If the judge or jury finds me guilty, I will be required to pay all of the court costs, plus any fine levied.
I know these things to be true:
I was not there at 8:30.
There were no children unloading.
BUT, was I there before 8:50? I’m not sure. Maybe.
I decide to plead guilty and pay the fine.
“It’s too bad there’s no opportunity to have your say or influence anything at all without the risk of additional penalty.”
– Loved One
Today I join 12 other people who got a ticket for the exact thing I did. In the exact place. Three of us have a ticket for exactly 8:30. All but one of us pleads guilty. We are each fined $470.00. One person says, “I’d rather put my money in the pocket of a lawyer.” Part of me is happy I avoided additional court fees. Part of me wishes I joined the rebellious one. The one lawyer present looks suspiciously like Walt’s lawyer, Saul Goodman.
I consider “Breaking Bad” but:
I am a good girl.
I am responsible.
I am a good citizen. Still,
I am decidedly NOT a real patriot.
I pay the fine.
Tomorrow is a new day.
Nothing in the universe can stop you from letting go and starting over.
I will let go and start over.