I have said for a number of years now that there needs to be a tax on stupidity. It turns out the joke is on me. I have been paying a stupid tax for the last 17 years or so on a regular basis. I even paid a stupid tax while abroad in Germany.
Are you asking yourself yet what I am talking about? What is a stupid tax?
In my case it is speeding tickets. 2011 has been my year of the ticket. I have been pulled over at least a dozen times this year. Almost all of those stops have resulted in a ticket. Luckily, in a few of those cases, I have been able to show that I replaced a head light or a turn signal bulb and got the charges dismissed. Most of the time though, I got a ticket for driving too fast. I got my ticket...and I paid my ticket.
I do want to call attention to the fact I am not complaining about the police. Knoxville Police Department has been the majority of my interactions, but I have visited with the Knoxville Sheriff’s Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The most recent ticket, the one I paid today at $229.50, was a Tennessee Highway Patrol ticket. He pulled me over doing 61 in a 40 on Emory Road. I was speeding. He had me dead to rights. I earned the ticket. The police are just doing their job. It is my foot holding down too hard on the gas pedal.
I have heard a lot of folks complain when they get pulled over. I normally let out a resigned sigh and start praying that I have asked Geico to send me a current insurance card. A few times I have gotten a little nervous. I genuinely wondered on the 20 mile over ticket if I could be charged with reckless driving and arrested. The police have all, or mostly all, been extremely nice and professsional. It is stupid on my part to earn the tickets. It would be more stupid to put the blame on the cops who are just doing their jobs.
That isn’t to say I don’t have some funny stories about getting pulled over or earning a ticket. My Mom and I took off together to go take a total immersion German language class in Nurnberg while we were there. She conned me into driving, and honestly I enjoyed driving there. All the stories in the U.S about the Germans not having any speed limits are not true. Germany traffic laws are more complicated than ours are. They are also enforced in a very uniform way. I didn’t speed much while I was overseas. A speeding ticket is the last thing I wanted while bumming my way across Europe.
I did manage to get us a parking ticket. Parking meters are a bit different in Germany. You pay money into a toll machine normally located on the corner of the street you are parking on. The toll machine prints you out a receipt and you put that on your dashboard for traffic control to see. The catch to that is you have to make sure the receipt is face up. I was nervous about the class and in a hurry and I sat it faced down on the dashboard. We got a ticket in the mail. I paid stupid tax... even in Germany.
Another great ticket happened while I was fighting with my ex wife while we were dating. We had been arguing on the phone before I went to pick her up. I drove from Corryton to West Knoxville madder than hell. I picked her up and we headed back to Halls cussing and fussing all the way. As I sped up Norris Freeway in my little Buick Century Beth noticed I was speeding and said,” I hope you get a ticket” (I cleaned that up from the names she called me to go along with that statement. One of my resolutions for 2012 is to stop cursing.) No sooner was this out of her mouth than a Tennessee Highway Patrolman passed us going the opposite direction.
My heart sunk. There was no way he couldn’t have known I was flying along around 90 miles an hour in a 45 mph zone. I had brief visions of handcuffs and later fighting off sodomy( I was all of 18 at the time and not really realistic) Resigned to my fate I quietly and calmly pulled in at an abandoned business. A minute or so later I got a quite expensive ticket and a stern talking to by the nice man in the big brown hat. Beth laughed at me all the way back to my house. I don’t even recall what we had been arguing about, but I will never forget her mocking me for getting that ticket.
I wish I could say it took hold and I learned my lesson. Obviously 14 years later I am not much smarter. Though my primary Resolution for 2012 is going to be no speeding tickets. The idea here is that if I can get in the habit I will maintain it from here on out. The funny part of all of this is I don’t speed because I am late or to get where I am going by a certain time. I speed because I like going fast.
My Monte Carlo isn’t a fast car. I haven’t modified it in any way, and I know it isn’t a race car. Still I love to push that pedal to the floor and just go. I got tickets in my Izusu Trooper, which is perhaps the least speedy non aerodynamic vehicle ever made. I got a few tickets in my little grandpa Buick Century. I even got tickets in my Ford Aerostar mini van once upon a time. This is proof positive that it is not the car, it is the driver.... that is a complete idiot.
Well, I don’t plan on being stupid anymore. I can’t afford it!
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