When I think about doing something for the first time, I like to think it will be a pleasant experience. That is not always the case. What was in the number nine position on my list of fifty first-time experiences the year I turned fifty? A ticket for speeding in Mannington, written on New Year’s Day, while doing a good deed.
I will be the first to admit that my getting a speeding ticket would be a well deserved punishment nine times out of ten. That drive through Mannington was not one of those times. At church, I was introduced to a family that had moved to Marion County shortly before Christmas and the wife had just been hired as a substitute bus driver. They were looking for somebody who would be willing to drive her around the county so she could see where the schools were. I had been driving to all of those Marion County schools for almost twenty years at that point and I knew every shortcut, and backroad, well. I volunteered.
The only day we were both free was New Year’s Day, so I picked her up and took her on a tour of the county. When we stopped at Blackshere Elementary, I was the only vehicle in the parking lot. That had never happened before and, desperate to expand my “firsts” list, it became number 8. Boring and pathetic, I know, but my budget needed a few free additions to the list to offset the more costly events, like a ticket for speeding.
As we left Mannington Middle School and pulled onto Route 250, I knew the speed limit was 25. I noticed that there was a policeman following me and I kept the car under the speed limit. He followed me for several miles and, just after the speed limit went up to 35 and I accelerated, he put on his siren and pulled me over. He told me I had been going 35 in a 25 mile zone. I asked to see the gps coordinates of where he clocked me speeding but he said he didn’t have that information available. I wanted to call him a liar but I showed him my license, registration, and insurance card, and sat quietly while he wrote the ticket. Happy New Year, right?
As soon as he left, the lady in my car said indignantly, “That was wrong! You were not speeding. We can fight this in court!” I appreciated the sentiment, but court is scheduled during the working person’s day. If I took off work, I’d lose at least a half day of pay and my new friend, being a substitute, could easily jeopardize her job by missing even one day to go to court with me. Her family needed that job.
I don’t remember the exact amount, but writing a check for around $150 seemed to be the easiest and least stressful course of action. I’m sure the courts rely on that very decision each time court is scheduled for a traffic violation. How many of us can afford to lose a day’s pay when we’d probably still end up paying the fine? Our justice system isn’t always just. I wonder how many times this same policeman has issued tickets to other innocent drivers using the same technique?
I sometimes wish I’d taken those few steps beyond normal and fought the ticket. Oh, well. My blood pressure thanks me for not getting too riled over a wrong.