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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nailed

Girlfriend Terri and I determined long ago that we have been profiled in this city. Oh, yes, without question. We are targets. Each of us is a small woman of a particular age, respectable looking. People would likely guess that we pay our bills and our taxes. On time. We each drive a modest, decent, newer model car of a color that defies description - unremarkable in every way. For the most part, each of us drives her car reasonably, abiding by the laws no one else here seems to understand. No police officer would ever spend a moment's thought on the possibility that one of us might be a threat to him or her. We're unlikely to be packing. Our reward for fitting this profile is regular citing for some truly ingenious "traffic violations". We call these events "Metro's (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department) fundraiser". Hit the little women and add to the city's coffers. We are ticketed for things nearly as silly as going airborne to pass other cars or digging a tunnel to avoid a busy intersection. Really. We pay up, too. While I have a moral twinge about paying for extortion, I also object to the traffic court system which requires multiple appearances downtown, taking time out of one's life repeatedly, just to be required to pay in the end, anyway. Profiled. Sitting ducks.

Most recently, I have had the kind use of a friend's car more often than I have driven my own. I believe the friend sees this as a meaningful way to assist me at a time when I am coming out of some difficulties. He won't take gas money, he won't take no for an answer and he won't move his car so I can my own out of the garage. OK. I an accept a kindness graciously. The trouble is that bright red, V8 Mustang GT embarrasses the living hell out of me. No chastisement, please! I understand it's a classic car, an icon, that many Americans love. I just don't happen to be one of them. The trouble is that the car is so anti-me, so far from anything I represent, so big, so roaring, so heavy, such a gas guzzler . . . I don't care for it at all. When I arrive at AA in it, the bikers sitting outside smoking give me the "Hey, honey" look or make comments that border on unwelcome. Young Turks pull up next to me at stoplights and check out the machine from bumper to bumper, jaws dropping when they see me at the wheel. Recently a friend walked me out to this car and kind of grinned at me. Hey, the windows are tinted so dark, at least it would be difficult for an observer to be certain it was me. And finally, an older man at AA saw me arrive in my Nissan recently and said, "Weren't you driving a much finer car the other night?" Grrr . . None of my friends has any issue jumping in, reclining the seat back to an angle I can't use to drive, and hitting the sound system, so what is it with me?

By the way, I was also mortified in my 20s when I was tapped to move my mother's Cadillac from one location to another, for fear someone might see me in that conveyance which is not reflective of me, either, so I have long-standing issues. Which is not the point of this story. I was driving home feeling clean - cleansed - from my AA meeting. I started up a gentle incline on a street that is residential, quiet, but quite wide, sun-dappled at 6:30 p.m., and notorious for the motorcycle cops who lie in wait under the freeway overpass seemingly 24/7. I saw him there from a couple of blocks back. I made certain my foot was scarcely touching the gas pedal. It occurred to me (again) that that V8 engine roars even when the driver is not gunning it. But I felt I was doing all right. He was starting up the motorcycle and pulling out as I passed him. He hit his lights and I pulled over. I know how to behave. Don't flail my arms around, don't dive for purse or glove compartment, just wait for him to arrive at the window.

We immediately established a grand rapport. "Do you know why I stopped you, M'am?" "Sir, I don't." "Well, this is a 25 mph zone and I clocked you at 39 mph." "Ah," said I. We danced a little. I explained that I needed to get out of the car to get to my purse from the back. I had difficulty locating registration and insurance (hey, it's not my car!), but he was patient and level about all of it. When he gave me the ticket, he said, "You've been really cooperative. I wrote you up for only 5 mph above the speed limit." "Well, I thank you, Sir. Could we list the Ford Motor Company as partly responsible since this car likely goes 50 mph when the ignition is turned on?" Smiles. "Drive safely." I did. And slow. Not to split hairs, but when I got home and examined the ticket more carefully, I noted that it reads "Actual speed: 39, Cited speed: 30." I'm not quite sure I understand this. It's not like anyone else (the Court, DMV) will fail to know I got clocked at 39 mph. I'm required to contact the Court before August 10, so I can't even rely on the Rapture to get me off on this one. And as I drove off, I did not call the man a rat bastard or any other derogatory name, even under my breath.

OK, well it can't be blamed on anyone other than myself. It's not a weird charge - simply "going too fast". It'll cost more than I want to pay and I'll likely moan about that when the time arrives, too. I can't dance and I'm too fat to fly. "Pay the ticket and shut up, Les." "All right I will."

Last night I went a pretty far stretch across the city to listen to an AA speaker. He was an older man, very lively and entertaining to the 300 or so of us who gathered to hear yet the next drunk's tale. Yes, we really do get something good from that. It's part of the AA juju. The reason the program works. I am good at a speaker meeting. I absorb what the presenter has to say and I spend time rehashing it, spending time in the larger and smaller themes. I can't shake this, even though I've had a night's sleep and other distractions . . . this man's "bottom" (the place an alcoholic must reach before he is finally ready to admit that he has a problem) was remarkably bad by the standards of most people. He arose out of the wreckage across many years and regained a truly admirable way of life. His date of continuous sobriety? September, 1958. You should have seen me doing the math on my fingers and toes. I'm in awe.

So, we're going to volunteer at the Henderson Pavilion again through the stewardship of Acts of Kindness, the organization I support with my time and efforts. So this time, it's a local rock band combined with a symphony orchestra doing The Who, Pink Floyd and Led Zep, or so they say. All righty then. But I'm going and I'm scratching my head about why the damned Yellow Brick Road thing keeps popping up in my life. I don't like the yellow brick road reference or any images it conjures up. I know, I know. Dig out the black pants, white shirt, collect the vest at Will Call and listen to the music.

17 comments:

  1. I hate it when I get ticketed for something like a burned-out tail light. I don't even KNOW it's burned out until the cop tells me it is!

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  2. @ Kirk ~ Makes perfect sense to me, my friend. How are we supposed to know what's going on behind us (or on the back of the car)? I'm fortunate that I enter/leave a parking lot fairly often and I can see my brake and tail lights reflected in a plate glass window. Otherwise, I confess: I'd never even think to look. And, p.s., do we really need to be ticketed for fix-it violations? I can rant if you'd like.

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  3. Ungawa! Mustang come, Jane drive, ungawa!

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  4. @ Tag ~ OMG, you are GOOD! You been hangin' out at my AA club? Put just a little raunchy spin on that comment and you'd be right there with the bikers. Thanks for the laugh out loud. Jane . . . I like that name.

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  5. Ugh, speeding tickets. Sounds like you're in a hurry to get to/get away from the Emerald City?

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  6. @ CramCake ~ Ha! If I had to outrun a squadron of flying monkeys, I imagine I could do it in that thing. But, alas, on that day I was just peacefully tootling along. Any additional backing off from the accelerator would have brought me to a standstill. I think the thing simply idles at about 40 mph which is my next good reason to say "No, thanks."

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  7. That actually sounds kinda fun...except for the moving violations.

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  8. @ CramCake ~ Except one must remember my unnatural fear of flying monkeys. In such a chase, I'd be bawling and maybe even puking or wetting my pants. I'd make a hell of a mess. You would be appalled!

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  9. Here in Ohio the state is considering dropping the rule that all cars must have a front license plate as well as a back. Police orginizations are fighting dropping this rule. What's it like in Nevada? Do you only have back plates?

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  10. I'm picturing you seeing the monkeys in the rearview. I step in, we do a quick driver-transfer, and I gun it. Driving us away quickly, tires squealing, V8 roaring, into the safety of wherever, far, far away from the monkeys. You wouldn't even have time to wet your pants.

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  11. Testing...testing...testing

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  12. @ Kirk ~ Front plates optional, dating back to at least the 1970s, BUT I've heard repeatedly throughout the years we're supposed to have 2 plates, law enforcement just fails to jump all over it. I'm not sure why, if that law is on the books, they don't use it in furtherance of their fundraising efforts. You'd be amazed how many cars I see each day with NO plates, registered as of 2001 (REALLY!) or with the plates propped up in the back dash. Hey, I just realized I'm not quite the rebel I thought I was. My car is completely in compliance, which I'd like to have reflected on my permanent record.

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  13. OK, let me explain the "testing...testing...testing". I tried putting in a comment (successfully, I now see) and when I clicked the "suscribe" I got "Your email subscription had been canceled for this post." Any idea what's THAT about?

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  14. @ CramCake ~ Well! I might be nearly catatonic over fear of monkeys, but let it never be said I wasn't up for a good time. Besides, I'm thinking the monkeys won't see me through the tinted windows and we can scare them with really loud music - maybe something by Yellow Brick Road and the symphony orchestra? OK, I'm in. I'll just make sure to carry a beach towel in the trunk in case you can't deliver on all your claims to driving prowess. ;~} You can tell I've got writer's block for my true work, right? I'm getting pulled right into fantasy action, envisioning us in matching T-shirts: Chicks Kick ASS!

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  15. @ Kirk ~ Here's the Blogger deal as closely as I can tell right now. Last Friday(ish) we had the every-two-weeks schedule of Blogger blastedness which seemed to have different symptoms for a lot of us and seemed regional - you all in Ohio seemed unaffected, but in the west and in the U.K., lots of us were scratching our heads. Then a couple of good days. Now, you're the second blogger who has described the current problem to me in the same way, so I'm guessing we've got hiccups again. For the record, it's playing no stunts on me here in the desert, and you can see both of your comments landed.

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  16. Blogger seems to be hosed and everyone on holiday. I watched all six MGM Tarzan Movies between Sunday and Monday. Boy go now! Find Jane!

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  17. @ Tag ~ Ungawa! Mustang go, Jane drive, Metro go, Jane curse.

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