Thursday, March 16, 2006

Just My Friggin Luck

I’m an angry driver at times, but I’m usually a safe driver. Sure there are some who would beg to differ (most of whom have ridden in the car with me).

Their fears are based predominantly on the speeds in which I choose to travel (and change lanes. Why dawdle with a lane change? If the coast is clear for three lanes and you want to be three lanes over, why stretch the activity out for the next five miles? That’s what causes horrible traffic, indecisive drivers. Traffic = frustration. Frustration = impulsive behavior. Impulsive behavior = accidents).

However, let’s not blow this out of proportion. I may be a little faster and impatient than some, but I’m never reckless. I don’t travel down the 405 at 100 mph. And believe me, there are a lot of people who do. The general lack of law enforcement in LA makes it easy and inviting. I don’t cut people off. I plan. I’m the guy who uses the far right hand lane when I know I’m going to be exiting the freeway soon. I hate the jerks that don’t.

So yesterday I went to the valley to help a friend shoot a birthday video for another friend. On the way back I had to deal with some city traffic (I used Laurel Canyon, not the 405). It was aggravating. But I was determined to stay calm. And I was doing a fine job of it too. When I was passed on the right, I didn’t yell, I didn’t scream, just a nice “fuck you asshole” under my breath and I was fine.

Cruising down Crescent Heights, there’s always a stop sign that I almost blow through. It’s not marked well. The painted warning on the street is faded. The sign is placed about a mile away from the center lane (it’s two lanes in both directions). Not to mention that it’s in between two difficult intersections and in the middle of a very short block.

I haven’t run a stop sign in…well…ever. I’ve had some traffic tickets before. All speeding (one for going 65 in a 55 zone, only to have them raise the speed limit on the same stretch of road to 75 a few months later…damnit!). I’ve been in one accident that totaled my car, but it wasn’t my fault. It didn’t even affect my insurance.

But yesterday I ran a stop sign. It freaked me out. I noticed that I was doing it halfway through. But by then it was too late. I was glad that there was no one else in the intersection (although if it hadn’t been so wide open I would probably have noticed the stop sign). But I made it through the stop sign safely.

Then I saw the cop pull out with his lights on.

I got a fucking ticket for running my first stop sign. There are about five cops in all of LA and I had to run a stop sign in front of one of them?! I feel like those girls who have sex once and end up pregnant. Except I’m expecting to deliver a healthy seven pound three ounce stack of dollar bills…to the city of Los Angeles.

It was one of those “no-nonsense” cops (read: unless you have a vagina, I’m not going to even discuss the possibility of writing you out a warning). He just took my information and wrote me the ticket. I don’t know how much I’ll have to pay yet. In LA they like to keep it a secret until you deal with the courts. But I’m sure that the damage will be substantial. See, when I got home I noticed that the cop also dinged me for speeding (35 in a 25). I’m going back there to make sure that the speed limit is posted because I’m almost positive that it’s a 35 mph zone. But that’s not really the point. I felt like a criminal sure. But people get tickets like this all the time.

I can be rest assured that I at least wasn’t acting like a complete ass when I ran the sign. I wasn’t talking on my cell phone. I wasn’t fiddling with the CD player. I wasn’t cursing at other drivers.

I just wasn’t stopping at a stop sign.

I hate this crap. I hate this kind of loss of money. There are always unexpected expenses in life. Usually it’s due to some medical problem. But when you spend money on, say, trying to beat cancer, at least there’s a goal. It’s noble. You say to yourself, “hey it’s just money. A small price to pay to have so-and-so still around and comfortable.”

But when you get a traffic ticket you pay for nothing. It’s like setting fire to a couple hundred dollars.

Except that you have to trek all the way downtown to the courthouse and stand in lines all day to do it.

I hate stop signs.

Fun Fact: My ticket specifically says that my infraction was “fail to stop for clearly posted stop sign.”

Clearly posted.

The cop who stopped me didn’t just happen to be at the intersection at the time. He was staking it out. Laying in wait. What was he waiting for? Not speeders. Unless you run the sign, there’s no opportunity to get your speed up, the block is too short. Murderers maybe? He could have been waiting for murderers, but I would guess that there are better places to wait for that than a nice sunny open part of suburban LA.

No, he was waiting for someone to run that stop sign.

So, if the intersection is so “clearly” marked, why was a cop sitting there expecting people to run the stop sign?

I’ve been had!

No comments: