It's funny how intentions can lead to nothing. Like how I "intended" to keep my blog page full of fresh posts? Yeah... my page could probably be likened to the bottom shelf of Jack Black's fridge: littered with rancid, unidentifiable substances that were once edible at some point about 3 months ago. Well, now that the winter is finally over, and my apathy that typically follows it has passed, I can finally go on with a clear head, and actually commit some thoughts to written word.
First of all, I must say that 2008 has really been a horrible year so far. Apparently the powers-that-be that wrote up Murphy's Law decided to throw the book at me sometime at about... oh... say... 12:01AM on January 1st and things have been all downhill from there. I was actually at a New Year's party that night, which went sour for reasons I will not discuss due to privacy for those involved, but I should have heeded the proceedings of that night as an omen for the days after. Needless to say that the day-to-day shuffle through life has been spotted with expensive mistakes, personal defeats, needless confrontations, and inconsiderate strangers.
Now at this point, I'd like to make it clear that this whole rant that I'm about to enter isn't just to #$@%& and vent at unsuspecting readers here. I guess, now that the worst of what's happened is over, it seems a lot funnier to me, so this is a way to step outside of myself and look at it among the rest of you.
The most recent (and prominent) issue of the year (so far) was a speeding ticket that I earned a little more than a month ago. Anyone that knows me (and quite a few that don't) is only too aware that I love to drive. I derive no greater pleasure from anything in this world besides being behind the wheel. ...Anything except driving that wheel like I was fired from an RPG! If I'm touching the ground, I'm going too slow. ...That is, until last month.
On the day of my infraction, I had worked the midnight shift (as usual) and I was scheduled to work overtime that afternoon at 1600 hours (4:00PM to the lay person). Unfortunately, that left me with about 5 hours of actual sleep between shifts if you account for changing in/out of uniform, travel time, feeding time, etc. On top of this, in this 5 hour span, I had to run an important business errand to a friend at the last minute. Therefore, I must've figured this was absolutely no problem, since I decided to ignore my alarm clock, and inadvertently maximize my sleep time to about 5½ hours. I leapt out of bed, ran to my car, and rocketed down the highway like a metallic blue missile to the above-mentioned friend before work.
Now, I know what you're thinking. I must've had this coming. Rockets aren't street-legal! However, even I have my limits. The little gnome in the back of my brain usually kicks me in the cerebellum and says, "HEY! Yer goin' too damn fast!" Well, that gnome was still fast asleep, and all that was left was my inner-self chanting, "...you have 17 minutes to get to work! ...you have 16 minutes to get to work! ..."
So, there I am, quickly approaching mach 2, the guy in front of me is only doing about mach 1, and I then decide to do the only sensible thing: pass him. I kick it to the throttle and I get to about mach 3, when I feel a great disturbance in the Force. The feeling as if 3 pairs of eyes in uniform had just spotted me, and knew that they'd be getting that promotion this year after all.
It was then that I was pulled over by a pack of state troopers (honestly, since when did the cops decide to roll 3 deep around here?) and their "leader" sauntered up to my window. I sunk into my seat as I passed him my credentials. Then, I'm asked a question that would decide the whole outcome of this incident. "Do you know why I stopped you?"
Of course I did. I could almost see the flames still searing into the tarmac.
I grumbled out, "I was going a little fast, wasn't I?" The cop was still examining my paperwork out of view of my window, so a shiny belt buckle replied, "how fast do ya think ya were goin'?"
Now, I knew I was doing some decent flying down that road, but I actually had no idea how fast I was really going. I was paying more attention to how slow the other cars were going. The best reply I could manage was my typical cruising speed.
"I guess about 80... maybe 85?"
The cop laughed, "You really think so? Try again."
I guess it was a rhetorical question because before I could embarrass myself further and take another guess, he answered for me.
"Try '95' buddy." My mind raced.
"95!? How could I be doing 95!? That's 7mph over time-travelling speed! If I were in a DeLorean, I'd be back to the future and home again by now! Oh, wait... he's still watching me. Say something!"
By the time I could respond, he was already heading back to his car with my documents. It's just as well, since I had no particularly intelligent response to offer, anyway. However, it still wasn't looking good for me. If you don't have your license back in your hand in the first 5 minutes, you're done for.
The actual time he spent in his car, writing, was probably only about 10-15 minutes. For someone with no points on his license, a clean driving record, low insurance rates, and a tight budget... this felt like eternity. I couldn't afford fines and my wife would be none too happy about sharing inflated insurance premiums when her record was spotless.
I'm not a particularly religious person. I could use one hand to count how many times I've been to church in the past year. However, like most closet Christians, guess who I turn to for help when the chips are down...
"G-d? I know you're up there. Listen, I've got a little favor to ask..."
I suppose He really does have a sense of humor, because I could almost see Him sitting up on His cloud, glaring, as the cop strolled back to my car with tickets in hand. (yes, that's plural)
A voice echoed in my head. "Yeah! You're on your own, buddy! Do for me no favors, and you shall receive none!" ...or something like that.
I got 2 tickets. One was for speeding 30mph over the posted limit (let it be noted that I was in a 65mph zone and fines are doubled for that in NJ!) and one for "obstructed view". That last one was particularly stupid, because the only thing "obstructing" my view was a tassel that was approximately an inch wide and 5 inches long, that was hanging from my rearview mirror.
If a vehicle exists that is 1 inch wide and 5 inches long, I'd like to see it. (No comments from those of you with your head in the gutter. There could be children reading) :D
Anyway... to put an end to this tirade I've embarked on, the conclusion of all this was that the speeding ticket was actually quite serious. It carries 5 points and a $500-something fine plus a possible loss of license for 30 days (which all could be doubled, by the way). I had to get myself a lawyer and do some considerable nail-biting for a month before the court date. The end result was a plea for reduced charges, which included a $200 fine and 2 points. I got off pretty easy, considering what the charges could have been.
In closing, the moral of this story is: Speeding is expensive. You can either spend a load of money on lawyers and fines, or buy yourself a badass radar detector and/or scanner. Either way, it's an expensive hobby. Too bad it's so much fun...