Thursday, October 13, 2011
My mother used to refer to my life as "The Perils of Pauline," which I think was an early movie serial about a heroine who went from one catastrophe to another, a perennial damsel in distress. I felt vaguely offended and never asked her what it was. Nor did she ever tell me. My mother would be happy to know that today, there was a new installment.
I got a traffic citation in the mail - how cowardly - with photographic proof that I ran a red light. There were four pictures: my car at the red light, my car turning right at the red light onto a freeway onramp, me at the wheel and my license tag. Also included was information from the car's registration and my driver's license: My height, weight, age, birthday, hair and eye colors -- total violation. I smell a rat. It isn't that I believe I am perfect. I am capable of running a red light, but I don't believe I could do so without knowing about it. I am a careful and conscious driver. But if I did, it's legal to turn right on red unless indicated otherwise, and I don't believe there is any signage to that effect at this intersection.
Nowhere on the paper does it state the amount of the fine although I'm sure it's a whopper as mere expired parking meter tickets are $75. The fine for a moving violation involving a red light would probably make the paper burst into flames, causing extreme consternation at the post office. What is more, it states that within 30 days I will receive another notice telling me what the "bail" amount is, and if I don't respond by the deadline, they will attach more fees, have me arrested and take my firstborn son. They are placing the onus on me in a city notorious for bad mail delivery. (Example: We never get mail on Saturdays. I've heard rumors that the post office is considering saving money by discontinuing Saturday delivery but it won't make a difference in my neighborhood. We don't get it anyway.) So now I have to try to remember to keep track of the date so if I don't receive the nasty missive, I can report it. Or move to Saudi Arabia, maybe, where women are not allowed to drive at all.
I have the option if I qualify of attending traffic school - in Oakland - to prevent getting points on my license and higher insurance premiums. After I pay up, of course. I wonder if there is an online traffic school I could do instead. I hope they don't sentence me to ten lashes with a whip. And make me wear a burka.