Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ticket Rant

Who would have guessed that you can get a ticket for something that is not even illegal?  I wouldn't have, but I managed it on Friday night.

Talking on your cell phone while driving is NOT illegal in Michigan.  Granted, it can be a distraction, but no more so than having a conversation with someone sitting in the car with you.  I do not agree with the degree of distraction that people claim cell phones to be.  Cell phones have become a scapegoat/excuse for poor driving skills and the craziness is getting out of hand.  I reiterate: talking on the phone while driving is NOT illegal in Michigan.

Yet somehow I managed to get pulled over AND TICKETED for driving while talking on my cell phone.  How is this possible?  Easy.  Find another excuse for the traffic stop and the officer's ass is covered as far as a bogus stop is concerned.  And my stop was certainly bogus.

I was driving South on US 127 and near the Alma/M-46 interchange.  I slowed down for those exit/entrance ramps due to some traffic there - I'd rather be going a little slower when people are getting off/on the highway and I can't get over into another lane to give them extra room.  When the traffic behind me cleared, I moved into the left-hand lane so that the lane closest to the exit and entrance ramps would be available to those who needed it - and there were people doing both.  After getting past the ramps and when it was clear, I moved back into the right-hand lane.  I did not use my blinker to signal these lane changes, admittedly because I was talking to Laura on my phone and did not have a free hand for the blinker lever.  I did, however, look in my mirrors and over my shoulder to make certain that my path was clear - I did not cut anyone off nor did I cause a traffic hazard.  As I am returning to full highway speed, Jon notices a State Police car next to us.  This SP car was going faster than I was and pulled almost past me, and Jon saw him looking over at me (I was still on the phone).  Suddenly, the SP car slammed on his brakes and flipped his red light on to pull me over.  I told Laura, "I'm getting pulled over - here, talk to Jon," and handed the phone off to him.  Then I said, "I don't know what's going on, it's not like I'm speeding.  I'm not even quite back up to the speed limit yet."

When the officer came up to the car and asked if I knew why he pulled me over, I honestly was able to say that no, I didn't know.  He proceeded to say that it was because I failed to signal my lane changes.  SAY WHAT?!?!?!  Suffice it to say, I was stunned.  He got my license, proof of insurance, and registration, and asked for Jon's license, and went back to his car.  He was there for a while, and when he came back he gave me a ticket for failing to signal a lane change!  He claimed he cut me a break by only writing for one violation, since I had twice changed lanes without signaling.  I was stunned.  STUNNED.  I have a clean driving record.  I have not even been pulled over for so much as a headlight out in over a year, and have had no tickets in almost nine years.  And I get ticketed for not using my BLINKER?  SERIOUSLY?  And this only after he had pulled up next to me and saw me talking on the phone?  I smell a rat.  A dirty, stinky, wanting-to-send-a-message State Police rat.

Don't get me wrong.  I have nothing but respect for police officers at all levels.  With the number of people in my family who are members of the police force, I would be crazy to have anything BUT respect for the police.  But let's get this straight - you blatantly lie to me, I lose all respect for you.  So by claiming that he pulled me over simply because of the blinker, that particular officer lost all respect I may have had for him.  To me, he became nothing but a jerk throwing his power around, and that is disgusting.

If it were really all about the blinker, he never would have pulled up next to me to know that I was on my phone while driving.  If it were really all about the blinker, I would have seen that flashing red light in my rear-view mirror first, not just to my left in my peripheral vision (since he was still next to me when he turned it on).  And, let's face it, if it were really all about the blinker, chances are good I would have gotten a simple warning rather than a ticket that will cost me about $150.

I have a week to decide whether or not to fight the ticket.....

Review: The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of WrathThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some may question my choice of three stars for this book. After all, it is a classic, and a good book in its own right. However, that doesn't mean that I personally think "it was amazing" (5 stars) or that I "really liked it" (4 stars). I just "liked it" - hence the three stars - based on Goodreads star descriptions.

This book is definitely worth reading. Somehow I never had to read it for school, which is probably just as well since many of the books I read as school assignments during my 6th-12th grade years were not books I paid much attention to - only enough to pass the test and/or write a paper about it. Some of those books are books that I have subsequently gone back to read again, others I have happily left behind. This book, while often taught in schools, is one that for me does not hold the taint of "required reading" and I was therefore able to enjoy it.

I have never known the kind of poverty described in this book. I have often been poor, at times have gone without enough to eat and frequently wore hand-me-downs that had been through four previous owners, and I have even been homeless for a short time. But those hardships pale in comparison to the abject poverty of the Joad family. This book definitely gave me a new appreciation for how much we did have - even when we thought we had nothing.

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