Poetry Friday: The Word is FIGHT
I used to fight with my brother in the dirtiest way possible…fisticuffs. We’d scratch, bite, and hit each other until our parents separated us with a belt swat on our behinds. Thankfully, as we grew up, we lost our will to fight. We joke now about the fights we had, the welts and bruises that we left, and the amazement that our parents didn’t ship us off to military school. Of course, given that my immediate and extended families live in some bizarro-world epicenter of Spankings and Yelling, it’s kind of a wonder we turned out as normal as we did.
The Poetry Friday Word for Today is FIGHT. Feel free to throw a sucker-punch at your blog post today and reveal the nasty bruise left by a life experience of yours…or someone else. Entertain us with song, story, a sweet chocolate cake, or a lovely lilting poem that sends us sniffling for the Kleenex.
Have a good weekend, y’all!
I Fought The Law. He Won. For Now.
Living near Local University, I’m used to seeing cops everywhere. Low speed limits, reveling sports fans, the occasional protest or house party, all send the coppers out in their Easy To Spot Vehicles and Bikes. There’s a calming effect for us residents when we see our Men In Blue pulling over a speeder that nearly just ran us down, or checking out the loud music coming from across the street, or coming to our rescue when we find a lost child.
Sometimes, though, even when we feel law-abiding, we’re hit with the realization that we’re just like everyone else. Scofflaws. Outlaws. Rebels.
Several weeks ago I was driving through downtown during busy traffic time. I encountered the Usual Idiots of Traffic Flow, those bastards who decide at the last second that they reeeeally need to turn right…when they’re in the far left lane…cutting you off. There are those who drive too fast. There are those who don’t understand pedestrians have the right of way. There are those who have a drivers license only through some fluke of the Secretary of State’s office, and really should be using Local Bus Service. And then there’s me. A. Good. Driver. So I thought.
I had just earned a bonus at work, and had the check beside me on the front seat, itching to be deposited and used for Christmas presents for the kids. Practical, right? I’m driving the speed limit…25 mph…watching cars weave and bob in front of and behind me, gasping when an SUV pulls from the left lane to my middle lane, directly behind me, so close I can’t see the front of his vehicle…only his shitty grin. I kept normal speed, watching the lights, and was relieved when Mr. TooClose popped over to the right lane, then made a turn. The light ahead had just turned yellow, and there was no way with traffic flow that I could stop in time. As I passed underneath the light, I could see it turn red.
Then I saw the spinning lights.
A motorcycle cop magically appeared behind me, motioning me to pull over. Which I did. Stunned. According to Michigan Law regarding yellow lights, “If you cannot stop safely, do not speed up but drive cautiously through the intersection.” Which was what I did. And what I lamely stated to the cop when he walked up to my car. (He was total Hollywood…high leather boots, mirrored sunglasses, chiseled cheekbones. I wanted to ask him which acting studio he worked for, but thought that was presumptuous.)
“Do you know why I pulled you over?”, he said, knowing I knew.
“Uh, the light? It was yellow when I passed under it.” I stammered.
“License and registration.”
In my decades of driving, I have only had one ticket. I generally drive like a grandma. So I was hoping beyond hope that the cop would see my stellar record and let me off with a warning. Instead, he came back with a pad of forms, a pen, and a line upon which to sign. There was no excuse he wanted to hear. Stupidly I blurted out, as he handed me my copy, “I just got a bonus today. Guess I know where that’s going.” He fingered his helmet, went back to his ride, and was off.
I had to sit there for a minute, processing what just happened. I drove the 6 blocks to the bank, deposited the check, pulled over in a parking lot, and bawled my eyes out. The ticket was for more money than I received in my paltry bonus. All that work…gone…for legally passing through a yellow light.
I had 10 days to pay it or fight it. Being an analyst, and feeling “right”, I decided to fight it. I went into the restaurant at the corner of the intersection where the cop pulled me over, sat in the front booth with a perfect view, and timed the lights and traffic. Over half the cars that passed the crosswalk on yellow passed through the light on red. The light itself is not in the middle of the intersection, but at the crosswalk past the intersection, and it takes 4 to 5 seconds for a car to haul ass at 25 mph through the space. The yellow light presented to traffic is 3.5 seconds long. See the math? Not enough time, not unless you’re speeding. I timed other intersections in the blocks before that light…they had the yellow light for 4.5 to 5.5 seconds. More time. Not fair.
I wrote up a 3-page explanation with detail of the light patterns, the number of cars that passed through on yellow/red, the amount of yellow light time at other intersections, which had the same speed limit and traffic flow. On the ticket I could Admit fault, Admit with Explanation, or Deny. I took the middle. I presented the papers to the local district court, sure that my brilliant observations would get me a lower fine.
5 days later, I received a letter. We have decided you are Denying the charge. You have 7 days to pay the ticket as is, or we will set a court date.
Fack. Was I too brilliant? Did they want to examine my fantastic analytic skills in person? I knew that to fight this further, I’d need to videotape the lights. Videotape 51 percent of cars at the intersection going through on red. Make cases and explanations and do the job of the city planners. In days.
I couldn’t do it. I had not the will nor the time to take on this second job.
I paid the damn ticket.
I told Sergei, when I have the time, I’ll do all that stuff…the videotape, the brilliant observations, expert opinions, and present them at a City Council meeting. Hopefully get the light timed better. It won’t take away the fine I’ve paid, or take the points off my driving record, but at least in that fight, I might feel vindicated. Lose the battle, win the war. Totally Punk Rock.