January 13th, 2003


Changing Lanes

I'm thinking that I must have some kind of "once a year quota" to fill in regards to my car. Last year I had gotten it towed and received a traffic ticket. (Luckily, I talked my way out of both)

A couple months ago I got my car towed and was not able to escape the $100 fee. (damn)

On Saturday I was driving along Rt. 84 to Long Island for a visit to my grandparents, singing along with Cher's "Bang Bang" at the top of my lungs, when I noticed a State Trooper coming up behind me rather quickly. Since I was in the left lane and it was extremely sunny, I couldn't tell from the sun's reflection if the police car had its lights on. So I figured since I was doing about 63 and he was clearly going much faster than that, my best bet was to move over to the lane on my right. (And yes, I used my turn signal)

By the time I did this, the trooper had caught up to me and made the lane change with me. I was a little puzzled by this until suddenly his lights really did come on and his siren, too.

So, I did what you're supposed to do in that case: pull over. Sure enough, he was after me. I don't know what confused me more: the reason I was pulled over or why he felt he needed the drama of his siren on top of the lights.

I sat on the shoulder, completely baffled until I saw him get out of his car and saunter on over to my car. I opened my window, license and registration in hand.

"License, registration and insurance!" He barked at me.

Wordlessly I handed them over to him.

He stared at me expectantly through silver sunglesses. I just squinted back up at him. I had taken off my sunglasses, so being that it was incredibly sunny, I could hardly see him. "Do you know why I pulled you over?" He finally growled.

"No, I do not," I responded.

"You made an unsafe lane change just now!" He said sternly.

Whaaaaat?!?! Of course, I didn't say it like that.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Wait here," he ordered.

I sat there, completely stunned. Unsafe lane change?? I only moved over for his benefit, especially because I couldn't tell if his lights were on. There was a truck in the far right lane and a car in the center lane I was moving into that decided to speed up as I moved into the lane, but I didn't cut him off. And I especially couldn't have cut that car off because the trooper made the lane change wth me.

A few minutes later I looked in my rearview mirror and saw him writing. Lovely. I was getting a ticket. Then he got out of his car and came back to mine.

"When you moved over to the right you almost caused a car to drive into the tractor trailer that was in the far right lane. I'm giving you a $78 citation for an 'Unsafe Lane Change,'" he said, handing me a ticket.

"No, I didn't. You made the lane change with me," I objected calmly. "In fact, I only moved over because I saw you coming up behind me really fast. I couldn't tell if your lights were on because of the sun, so I thought it was best to just get out of your way."

"You cut that other car off!" he insisted. "In fact, when I pulled you over, the guy in the car was clapping and pointing."

"So you're telling me that another driver had his hands off the wheel in order to clap and point while driving at 60 miles an hour, after supposedly having a near collision with a truck? That doesn't sound safe."

"You're gonna sit and argue with me?" He snarled. "I've been doing this job for 15 years, I know what's safe and what isn't. If you want to debate this with me, I'd be happy to go back and write you a ticket for speeding. I've been behind you since Exit 69, you were moving at a pretty good clip."

Now I was getting REALLY pissed. I was NOT speeding. The limit was 65, when I saw him behind me, I was going 63. What an asshole. I did not, however, think it was wise to inform him of this, so I just shook my head.

"No, it's fine. Have a lovely day," I said smiling.

"And you have a safe day," he said, accenting the "safe" in a condescending way.


So I got to my grandmother's *safely* and then read the ticket. "Unsafe Lane Change" courtesy of "Officer Clark in Tolland, CT. $78."

Even though the ticket won't affect my driving record or insurance because it's in CT and not MA, I'm really pissed about it. I don't have $78 to throw at a ticket I don't believe I should have gotten. So I'm going to dispute it, but I'm annoyed that I have to go an hour and 10 minutes to do it. I am going to argue this because I'm not some mere source of revenue for CT to take advantage of, especially for something as stupid as an "Unsafe Lane Change."

Hmph. I hate Connecticut.
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You Stink

What I'd like to know is... how will they enforce this? I think it's a great idea, but I'd love to witness a driver saying to a passenger, "I'm sorry, but you are RIPE! Go shower and then try riding with us later..."

Smelly bus-riders banned from public buses
By Associated Press, 01/13/03

BEND, Ore. -- You better hit the shower before you board the bus in Bend.

Proposed new city rules would ban spitting, defecating, smoking, skateboarding, and stinking on city buses.

The regulations ban anyone who "emanates a grossly repulsive odor that is unavoidable by other Bend Extended Area Transit customers" from being in the bus station or on a bus.

"It's an effort to keep the riding experience as pleasant and safe as possible," said city attorney Jim Forbes. He noted that the city already has an ordinance prohibiting people from releasing "highly objectionable odors" from their property.

The City Council will consider preliminary approval of the ordinance Wednesday.

The city's transit system is currently reservations-based. Last year, the city expanded the transit service for seniors and the disabled into a service for the general public, but no scheduled routes have been established.
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    amused amused