Sunday, May 26, 2013

My (Brief) Life of Crime

About a month ago, I got a speeding ticket in a tiny Texas town.  I was driving home from a non-profit conference.  The regular road speed limit is 70 MPH, but when you enter a town, they typically go down to 55, then 45, and some towns, to 35.  I knew the pattern, since I'd done it several times in a row, but I didn't see the sign as I entered a town.  John tapped me on the shoulder, and I realized I'd missed seeing a sign and slowed down, but too late.

In the next couple of weeks, our family went into crisis.  John's brother was hospitalized, went downhill when we thought he could be treated and get better, then died.  About a week after losing Tim, I found the ticket papers to check the deadline to request a driving safety course, which keeps a minor violation off your driving record.  I had missed the deadline by a few days.  I hurried and turned in the paperwork, the fee, and a letter of apology.

The little town's court clerk phoned, saying I needed to go back to their town and talk to the judge in person, so I made an appointment.  Then, I called her back and asked what he might decide to do, since I failed to appear on that speeding ticket.  She ran through several possibilities, but said he didn't know what the new judge might choose.  I was grateful none of the possibilities involved incarceration!  (Did y'all know I am rather a high-strung, nervous soul?)

I spent the next week, until the appointment, mentally kicking myself about my own mistakes.  (A major problem with stupidity is it isn't highly curable!)

On meet-the-judge day, John drove me.  If it went badly, I didn't want to drive back (about 45 minutes) in an emotional state.  It turns out the city has one building, a small converted brick house next to a tiny but nice park.  The judge was very pleasant, the sort of older guy who's probably be a nice neighbor, and he simply accepted my request to do the safety course.  Whew.

I took a horribly boring online class.  Five hours plus breaks are required.   The class is cheap and convenient, and I could listen to the material rather than read a textbook.  I'd get home from work, start it up, and knock out an hour before John arrived home from work.  I hand knitted my way through the class and have a small pile of round dishcloths to show for it.

I'll be out of trouble as soon as the town receives my paperwork.  I certainly hope this is the end of my life of crime!


  1. Oh my goodness. Texas takes it's crime seriously. I would have thought that your letter would have been returned with your uncashed cheque due to family circumstances.

  2. Actually, my family situation did not come up with the judge. He didn't ask, didn't think the few days were a big deal, and I was happy with the disposition.

    The clerk had known about it, but she didn't have any latitude to change the requirement to appear. I felt pretty queasy about using my poor BIL as an excuse for not appearing on a speeding ticket.

    The only hardship was spending all that time driving back to the little town.

    I have to agree, Texas is a real law-and-order state. If you're going to break the law, do it somewhere else. They're very, very tough on crime here, and I've been amazed at how tough ever since I moved from California, which is probably at the other end of the spectrum. California has a number of famous cases where someone got off after doing something horrendous. If you're a quiet, law-abiding sort, it's rather nice to be here. If you need a police officer, they seem to have enough and they come right away. We didn't have enough in my town in So Cal.

    It feels very safe here. We had a difficult time teaching our kids to lock doors.

  3. LOL!!!! What a great story. Glad you are not in the slammer!!