San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Thursday, July 9, 2015

My First Ticket

Almost two months have passed since it happened.  Or, to be more precise, almost two months have passed since I did it.  I hate it when people speak of bad things that they do in the passive voice.  Have you ever noticed that?  People don't speak about the good things they do in the passive voice.  No, those descriptions are always in the active voice and in the first person.  "I helped an old woman across the street," folks will say.  But when somebody gets murdered it is always "Sometimes murder happens when you are around." Go figure.
I strive to fess up to my sins.  Notice that I did not call my sins, "mistakes."  That is another thing I hate.  When people sin against others they inevitably call the sin nothing but a mistake.  A mistake is when I arrive home late at night after having too much Welsh beer and drive through my garage door without raising it.  A sin is drinking too much Welsh beer in the first place.  I don't see why that distinction is so hard for people to understand but apparently it is.  Everybody makes mistakes but nobody, apparently except me, ever sins.
As I was saying, something happened to me about two months ago that was a colossal mistake.  I received my first speeding ticket.  I realize that getting a speeding ticket for most people is a regular occurrence.  But that is not the case for me.  I have been sinfully puffed up with pride over the fact that I have been able to drive the roads of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika for 42 years without getting a ticket for speeding.  The primary reason for that is I rarely speed.  That is because I am rarely in a hurry.  I am not a Type A, obsessive-compulsive Yuppie.  I find going fast to be frightening so I prefer to take things a bit slower that other folks.
Knowing that most people do not share my appreciation for slowness, I have offered the same bet to every teenager I have known for the past 20 years.  I bet that the teenager, shortly after getting his driver's license,  will get a speeding ticket before I do.  Wise teenagers pass up the bet.  Less wise teenagers take the bet.  Less wise teenagers have paid me a lot of money over the years.  Last month I had to put my money where my mouth was.  I had to pay a wise teenager $50.  I didn't like that one bit.  I made a resolution to never let that mistake happen to me again.
Now you might think that a person who has driven like an old lady since he was 16 years old not getting a speeding ticket is not big deal.  But you need to realize that I drive a lot.  One car that I owned had 357,000 miles on it when I sold it.  Another car, a 98 Subaru Impreza, had 454,000 miles on it when I gave it to Goodwill.  My business has me on the road a lot.  I have to drive from building to building in order to clean up the messes of others.  I have lots of contracts all around the state of Colorado so I have been on the road an average of 30,000 miles/year for many decades.  And still I had never received a ticket for speeding, until May 15th.  Then everything changed.
My wife and I were driving westbound on US Hwy 160, in southern Colorado.  It was late Sunday evening and we were bound for Santa Fe where we were going to meet up with my brother for a couple of days of golf.  There was almost no traffic on the road and it was a beautiful evening.  We were coming down from La Veta pass and I was paying no attention to how fast we were going.  I noticed we were coming up on a car, rather quickly given the fact that I was going 77 in a 65 zone, when I also noticed that the car was a cop car.  The next thing I knew the cop pulled off the road to the right to allow me to pass.  I knew I was caught.  He pulled back onto the road after I passed and soon the red lights were flashing.  Nailed!
The cop approached the car and asked for the usual items.  He then informed me that he had me clocked at 77 in a 65 zone.  I asked him how in the world he knew that given the fact that he was in front of me when I caught up to him.  It was then I learned that modern police cars are equipped with "rear-view radar" that does not require him to be hiding behind a tree somewhere to catch me.  He then asked me if there were any reasons for my speeding and I, despite being able to come up with dozens of justifications for what I was doing, informed him that there were none.  He went back to his car and soon returned with a ticket for $176.  Ouch!  I had no idea that a mere 12 mph over the limit could cost so much.
It was then that it struck me.  Actually, I had thought about it before but this was the first time I was able to implement my plan.  So I did it.  I asked the cop to pose with me for a picture of him giving me the ticket and me shaking his hand as the first man to issue me a speeding ticket in 42 years.  Cops, being the joyless and stoic creatures that they are, are not prone to engage in such shenanigans.  But this fellow, a younger version and perhaps not as jaded as his compatriots, obliged me.  My wife snapped the shot on her phone:

Notice how happy the officer is.  I had to blur my face to maintain my anonymity but, trust me, I was smiling too.
After returning from our short trip I grabbed the ticket from my briefcase.  Several things struck me as interesting.  The fine was paid to the Colorado Department of Revenue, the exact same folks I pay my estimated state income tax to.  I guess a speeding ticket goes into the same pot as the state income taxes do. I found that depressing.  It seems like that policy sets up a bunch of perverse incentives for the state government to fleece me of my cash.  As I quickly learned, that was true.
I also had to pay two surcharges in addition to the fine for speeding.  One of them was a hefty fee to cover some of the costs of people rehabilitating in Colorado hospitals who suffered head injuries in car crashes.  Now that seemed a bit unfair to me.  Why should I be forced to pay for their injuries, which were likely caused by a combination of driving drunk or driving under the influence of a personal electronic device, whereas they did not have to cover any of my fine for speeding?  I am sure some career politician in the Colorado statehouse cooked up that law.  She will probably get a plaque when she retires informing her of how many lives she saved as a result of forcing me to pay other people's hospital bills.
It was an interesting experience but I don't think I will do it again.  Although I enjoyed meeting the officer (despite the fact that he was wearing jack-boots, as the photograph above shows, he was not a jack-booted thug) and it was a pleasant stop along the side of the road in a beautiful part of southern Colorado, the idea of paying more in taxes to the career politicians and bureaucrats who rule over me is just more than I can stand.


  1. Dear Welshy,

    I too had an experience with a jack-booted thug today, although it was not as pleasant as yours. My hairy little wife Mata and I decided to drive a scenic byway in the foothills of Denver today. Immediately after we turned west onto Clear Creek Canyon road, flashing lights filled my rear-view mirror. I immediately pulled over to the side of the road, wondering what on earth I had done to warrant the attention of a constabulary official. Both Mata and I had consumed more than our fair share of bananas for breakfast, but I was still able to drive properly and did not believe I was swerving on the road any more than normal.

    Upon arriving at the window of my car, the officer said that he had run my license plates and his database showed that I hadn't registered my vehicle since 2014. He never said why he ran my plates; I can only assume it is government policy to run the plates of any car containing a pair of chimpanzees who look like they are enjoying themselves.

    Anyhow, I provided written proof that my vehicle was properly registered with the government until 2016 and that I had the proper government required insurance. I also displayed my government issued identification card to prove that it was my vehicle that I was driving and that I was not illegally impersonating myself.

    The thug returned to his vehicle to check the authenticity of all my documents and possibly to verify that Mata was not on the FBI most-wanted list. After five minutes had transpired he returned to my car window and said that all my documents seemed to be correct and that the Department of Motor Vehicles must have not updated their database with correct information for my vehicle. He informed me that he would let me off with just a written warning but that I should contact the DMV to have them correct their information. When I asked him why he was giving me a written warning because some government official hadn't done their job properly, he looked as if he was ready to pull me out of the car and start whaling away with his baton. Instead, he showed restraint and informed me that he liked to do everything in writing.

    He went back to his vehicle and, after another five minutes, returned with a written notice which he handed me. He commanded me to have a good day, and I quickly drove away. I am thankful that I am still alive and non-incarcerated to write this comment.

    Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp

    1. Mr. Link:
      My condolences on your encounter with the jack booted thugs of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika. You are correct that they now have the ability to instantaneously scan license plates and they continually do so without any sense of the need to first have probable cause that you have committed a crime. The fact that that breaks the 4th Amendment means nothing to them.
      Your situation is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with the cops in this sad land. You have done nothing wrong. The government bureaucracy has screwed up big time. Guess who gets blamed? Clearly the cop believes two things:
      1. You are expected to be omniscient and become immediately aware of the fact that the government has somehow obtained incorrect information about you and your life.
      2. You are expected to be perpetually reporting all of your life information to hundreds of different government bureaus in order to make sure they know everything about you. In other words, you must be perpetually proving you are innocent of rules infractions.
      What bothers me the most is that the sheeple who populate this land believe all of this is a good way to behave because it protects us from phantom terrorists who allegedly want to destroy our freedom. Meanwhile our freedom is gone.
      Congratulations on escaping your encounter without being killed, maimed or gang-probed. You are one of the lucky ones.