When I opened the door to my car one morning in early January, I noticed this guy sitting in the driver’s seat. “I think Santa is trying to tell me to be better about following traffic laws in 2013,” I joked on Facebook.
You see, I had recently received a $400+ ticket for driving 83 in a 65 on the 5 one morning. A few days before that, I had also narrowly avoided getting a ticket from a red light camera for being too eager to get to that freeway onramp just on the other side. In San Diego, those tickets are $500. Y’all, I do like to go fast and I do like to get where I am going as quickly as possible, but I do not like throwing money away. Especially hundreds of dollars. Note that my biggest concern here is about wasting money, and apparently not about safety or following traffic laws. I assume California has figured that out, and that is why the ticket prices are so high. “You may not care about safety or laws, but I bet you do care about keeping what little money you have left after our high cost of living and tendency to tax the everlivingdaylights out everything possible,” says California. I was thinking about all of this on the train on my way up to work that morning that I found the Elf in my car.
And suddenly it hit me. Traffic school. In the hustle and bustle of the holidays I had completely forgot to take traffic school, and my certificate was due that day! Panic at the disco! Or rather on the Amtrak train. Because that’s where I was. Luckily I was able to log online and request a 30 day extension. I signed up for an online traffic school that day and began reviewing some of the chapters. And then? I pretty much forgot all about it again.
Traffic school. Ugg. In addition to paying an extra fee to the court for the privilege of taking traffic school, you also have to pay the school. And then you have to sit through painfully boring reading like this:
“Your brakes are for stopping the car. When you want to stop, put your foot on the brake pedal and begin to apply pressure. You will then come to a stop.”
Seriously?! How is drawing out every minute detail of how to drive a car going to make me a better driver? It’s not, y’all. The point, I assume, is to make it so painfully boring that you “learn your lesson.” The lesson being not to speed so you don’t get a ticket so you don’t have to sit through traffic school again (rather than not to speed because it is against the law).
Anyway, the point is that last night, after posting my “Goodbye 2012” post, I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t finished traffic school. Talk about an EXCITING Friday night. If there is one thing I know, it is how to party. I finished the remaining chapters, took the final exam, and I scored 97%. I missed one question about when you can enter a bike lane to turn and it is almost driving me crazy enough to look it up. Almost. But it’s done! WOO!
And with that I have also decided to be a more law-abiding driver. Not just because I don’t want to pay for any more tickets or because I don’t want to take traffic school again. I realized that I make tons of excuses for my driving. “Everyone is driving that fast!” “I have a really long commute and it will take me FOREVER if I actually drive 65.” “There is no reason we shouldn’t be able to drive 85 on that long expanse of the 5 through nothingness. There is nothing dangerous about that!” I say. But the bottom line is that I drive that way because I am constantly stressed out and I always think I don’t have enough time. I thought that getting places faster would make me feel less stressed out, when actually the pressure I put on myself to get places faster stresses me out more. So I’m going to stop doing that. I’m going to stop putting pressure on myself to get where I am going in an unrealistic amount of time. I will leave with plenty of time, drive at safe/legal speeds, and slow down when lights turn yellow rather than speed up. Hopefully this new plan will not only save me money and time (in terms of the time I spent dealing with the ticket and traffic school), but also make me safer and less stressed. You win, California. You always do.
Post-traffic school exam, Dave made a pizza and I made us each a cocktail, which we consumed while watching the very first episode of Matlock, and then we promptly passed out on the couch and woke up at 2 a.m. to go to bed. Like I said, we know how to party.