Thursday, December 9, 2010

You Need To Be Held Accountable For Your Actions

Funny thing happened yesterday. I got pulled over.

The first time I ever got pulled over I was driving home from Champaign, Il to Downers Grove and made the mistake of listening to Journey on the 55. I got so lost in Steve Perry's titillating voice I was apparently going 90 miles an hour. As if the ticket wasn't bad enough I was then accused of being high because I hadn't noticed that the t-shirt I had grabbed off the floor actually belonged to my boyfriend and had a big marijuana leaf plastered across the front. Right underneath it said "Phour-Twenty". Having never done a drug in my life, I swore on everyone's grave and their mother's that I had no idea what that meant. It was the truth. When he threatened to take my license I cried and begged him not to as the reason I was speeding was that I was trying to catch a flight to Mexico. This did not help my case. Somehow he let me go and I had my day in court. Pleaded one hundred percent guilty and learned my lesson. You don't speed.

The second time was about 3 months ago. In the midst of moving, I had lost some mail and also my reminder to renew my registration on my car. I also might have blown through a crosswalk right next to the kind police officer's car who decided to let that part slide. I hadn't been pulled over in almost 12 years and I was so nervous - I just starting throwing everything in my glove compartment at him hoping it was whatever he was asking for. "No ma'am I do not need a map of California or a receipt from your last oil change. Just your insurance." I learned my lesson. It is my responsibility to remember to renew my registration, not the city's.

I received a $35  ticket in the mail and was asked to send it back with proof of registration. Only problem was I hadn't received my new sticker and the ticket was due in 30 days. I called the DMV and found out there was nothing I could do to expedite the process. I called the courthouse and was never able to reach a human being. So, being the naive person that I am, sent my check with a nice little note that read:

Dear Courthouse,
I haven't received my new registration in the mail but I didn't want to be late in paying my ticket. I'll send it off as soon as it comes. Let me know if you need anything else!

I might as well have sprayed it with perfume. Imagine my shock when I opened up a letter back from them 2 weeks ago with a $900 ticket!!!!! This just wasn't right. I hadn't ignored it! I tried to rectify the situation, granted my approach was that of a 9 year old. So I called and called and tried to bypass voicemails and robots and left messages for anyone who would listen and decided my only option was to schedule a court date. I was not backing down on this.

Which brings us back to yesterday. Officer Alvarez was finishing up writing my warning for yet another traffic rule I was unaware of (different day/different blog) and I said "Hey, can I ask you a question?" and proceeded to tell her my story.

"Yeah," she laughed. "I noticed when I ran your license that there's a warrant."
I froze. "A warrant?" She nodded.
"Like for my arrest?"
She chuckled again. "Well technically, yes."
"Who would want to arrest me?" Now I was laughing. "I pay all my parking tickets! I don't do drugs! I don't rob banks! I vote! I serve jury duty! "
I was rambling on and on about how I never break the law and how much I respect those in her position and what a responsible person I tried to be as Officer Alvarez was doubled over in hysterics at my window. I was also laughing and crying. Mostly because her fly had been down this entire conversation and I had been debating whether or not to tell her but now I was afraid she was going to arrest me.
"So I'm like....wanted?!?!" I asked her with wide eyes.

After we both finally caught our breath, she gave me some helpful, though still very unclear, advice as to what I could do. She was pretty much telling me to pay it. I drove away feeling like a woman on the run. But I learned my lesson. That my parents raised a moron. And a good citizen.

So please realize that if you hear I've been arrested it is purely because of principle. And also partly because I'm confused as to how the system works and not used to being in trouble with the law. I will and have paid tickets that I accept responsibility for. But if I went out of my way to do the right thing and feel it is unfair....well, that deserves a little bit of a fight, no? But like mom used to say, "Well, sometimes life isn't fair Kate." We shall see.

To Be Continued....

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