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.