M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Thursday, August 08, 2002  

Today’s kind of a big day for me. It’s an anniversary of sorts, really.

Those of you who have followed the link on the right to my Hissyfit from last June already know that my driving record is a bit…shall we say…checkered. Another way of putting it would be to say that I’ve gotten three speeding tickets in three years.

I deserved the first one, so I didn’t fight it. Even if I’d wanted to, I didn’t feel like traveling to Utah just to go to traffic court. In hindsight, maybe I should have, because that ticket made it impossible for me to get out from under the second two, which I absolutely did not deserve. From that experience, I learned that you need to fight every ticket that comes your way, whether it’s justified or not, because it’s the only way to ensure that you won’t be sent spiraling uncontrollably into a chain of events that will eventually threaten to deprive you of all rights of the road. I’ve already told the story, so I’m not going to bore you further with it today. I’ll be boring you with something related instead.

The reason today is a big day is because it’s the thirty-five-month anniversary of that first ticket. That means that as of tomorrow, as far as car insurance companies are concerned, it never happened. From here, it’s only four-and-a-half months until my next ticket never happened, another month until my accident never happened, and only one more year after that before my driving record is totally clear! Today marks the beginning of the end of my long nightmare. Not only will I be able to stop driving under what is effectively a suspended sentence, I’ll get to stop paying monthly insurance premiums that would get me a spacious three-bedroom apartment in Manhattan.

Being this close to the final lap made me extra nervous during the drive to and from Chicago last week. I don’t know if you’ve ever driven across Wisconsin, but since that state’s primary export is speeding tickets, it’s not a trip to be taken lightly. The 289-mile corridor from Hudson to Beloit is a terrifying gauntlet for any scofflaw. Every time I run it I feel like Rosie O’Donnell sneaking behind the back row of seats at an NRA convention.

So far I’ve been lucky. I can’t tell you anything firsthand about getting pulled over in Wisconsin, but I’ve heard horror stories. Most states, they give you a ticket and you have two weeks to pay it by mail. Not in Wisconsin. You have to pay immediately, and if you can’t cough it up right then, you’re subject to getting summarily shot through the head. At least that’s what I hear.

We do have a radar detector, of course. Wisconsin hates radar detectors. I can tell because they’ve not only made them illegal, they’ve deployed a statewide jamming field to prevent them from actually detecting any radar. Plus they’ve equipped their cop cars with instant-on, undetectable, detector-jamming, laser-powered speed-gauging technology that was reverse-engineered from crashed UFOs. That’s the only explanation for the fact that my radar detector never makes a peep when I drive past any of the seven or eight hundred State Trooper vehicles crouched malevolently on the side of the road between Minnesota and Illinois.

And I know it’s not my detector, either, because it works fine at home. I know something's going on in that little electronic brain. It's not just a paperweight with some LED’s on it. Even in Wisconsin, it screeches at me every time I drive past a bank. I assume it's being set off by whatever high-tech burglar-proofing they have surrounding the vaults. You know, the laser beams you can only see when you put on the special goggles, but if you interrupt them a glass cylinder drops down over you and instantly fills up with phosgene gas or something. I don't know. These countermeasures must be pretty dangerous if my radar detector deems it necessary to warn me about them when I'm passing within two hundred yards. And while I appreciate its concern, I want it to be a radar detector. Not a bank detector. Banks tend to be not very furtive, what with the solid looking brick buildings and large signs announcing not only their name and function, but frequently the time and temperature as well. It's not like my radar detector is doing me a favor by warning me about a bank that's hiding behind a bridge support just waiting to pull me over and give me a home equity loan. But if I set it on a Wisconsin State Trooper’s hood, it’ll just stare innocently back at me while the officer paints my chest cavity with a tachyon beam that could read the registration numbers on the side of a cloaked Romulan Warbird.

As of today, though, things are getting better. A crushing weight is being lifted from the stack resting on my chest, and the ones underneath it won’t be there much longer. It’s only a matter of time before I’ll be able to safely get on the freeway, set the cruise control to ninety-four, and relax. Because, hey, what’s just one ticket?

posted by M. Giant 3:15 PM 0 comments


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