Monthly Archives: December 2011

Cop Week: Day 6 — The Final Chapter

I had to pay my ticket by April 1st, a full 7 months after I got it, but trying to convince myself to do anything that requires me to do things is a nigh impossible task. In fact, I usually can’t even convince myself to try to convince myself of stuff. It’s that exhausting.

But it was St. Patrick’s Day, the kind of day when you see the world through emerald glasses. The people on the streets have a strange green tint to them, though whether it’s due to their attire or their alcohol-induced nausea is hard to say. On every street corner, Irish drinking songs blare from garbled voices, random strangers have their hands transformed into merciless pincers, and all in all, cops have a little less power.

It was a day of serendipity.

I didn’t actually realize it was St. Patrick’s day until witnessing the aforementioned indicators, but when I pulled into the spot right in front of the courthouse, I could tell the patron saint of boozing was on my side. Plus, there was already money in the meter, and when I stepped out of the car, the smell of fresh grass hit me like a wave of odor particles. As I walked up to the oversized glass doors, lawyers smiled at me, cops gave me a head nod, and, well, those were the only two types of people that passed me actually.

I’m going through security right behind a guard who’s jivin’ with his buddy, and they’re talking about how they both just learned to do the dip snap. I just learned it too, so I chime in and suddenly we’re all cracking up and packing together.

Extreme bonding moment complete, I get in line for the payment window and strike up a conversation with the lady in front of me, who’s super friendly for someone about to fork money over to “the system.” She sees someone she knows, and because of the magic of the day, lets me go ahead of her, which means that instead of being serviced by grumpy government employee number one, I end up facing this beautiful brunette who can’t be over 25. She’s wearing a tight-fitting, low-cut green top that’s still somehow classy, and the first thing she does is make fun of me for not embracing the holiday. Suddenly I’m drooling all over myself, which, I must say, is a definite step up from weeping like a little girl.

The gods of game must’ve been on my side, cause I’m making jokes left and right, getting into the whole story of how I got the ticket, court, bike school. She’s laughing and joking back and at the end she gives me this look and says, “Perfect! I’ve gone ahead and closed your case, so you’re good to go!”

“I am?” I asked, bewildered. Could someone have truly taken pity on me, the poor, wretched biker whose lack of attentiveness led him astray but for a moment?

“Yep!” She winked.

And just like that, I didn’t have to pay the ticket. I smiled, said thanks, and walked off into the distance.

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Cop Week: Day 5 — Bike School

Months passed. When the time for bike school finally arrived, I was too afraid to actually bike to the police station for fear that my as of yet uneducated self would do something horribly wrong cyclistically, so I sprinted there instead. This was a mistake.

It was one of those days where the cold settles on the ground like a mist…exactly like a mist actually, and the experience was made worse because I was running, which is always horrible. I feel like if some company ever invents nanobots that gain sentience and start swarming all over the country and when you breath them in they crawl from your lungs to your bloodstream and end up taking over your brain so that suddenly you have an uncontrollable urge to feast on succulent human flesh but when you take a bite out of a less than thrilled subject the nanobots transfer to their bloodstream, well, I guess what I’m trying to say is that running is sort of like that somehow.

I get to bike school, and it turns out you can only pay the $35 with cash, which is $33 more than I have. Yay! I sprint to an ATM, get completely lost, run through some bushes, and now I’m bleeding all over in very minor ways. When I eventually navigate the shrubbery and find my way back, I’m 10 minutes late. I walk into the room and the cop gives me this angry look, but in his benevolence, he allows me to stay.

He paces the aisles, taping our eyes open with the threat of having to repeat bike school, then pops some tape into a janky old VCR. We have to watch 20 minutes of people being killed in gruesome accidents while a narrator informs us in a heavy-handed voice of all the dreams and goals that were cut tragically short. But luckily, with about 25 simple rules, we’ll be able to avoid a similar fate. We proceed to learn all these rules, like wear a helmet and don’t bike off cliffs or into nuclear reactors, and then there’s some time for Q&A.

“Why can’t we skateboard on campus?” one kid asks.

Cop: “It’s a liability issue really. Cal Poly doesn’t want you to get hurt on school grounds.”

“But what if we won’t get hurt?” asks another kid.

Cop: “Well, there’s really no guarantees.”

“But like, I don’t get why we can’t skateboard on campus,” says a third kid. “Yeah, like can we change that or something?” says another. “Yeah,” says another “Cause like, dude, it sucks that we can’t do it.” “Yeah, man. It’d be sick if we could like, use our skateboards to get around.”

Suddenly I realize that I’m literally the only person in the room who got a bike ticket. Everyone else was a skater dude. Oh, and one creepy old guy with a super long ponytail. He kept grinding his teeth and eying the door. I kept my distance from that one.

Then one of the skater kids tells this sob story and the cop says well “it’s all shades of grey,” up to the judgment of the officer.

The kid: “Oh really? Because that’s the exact fuckin’ opposite of what the cop who wrote the ticket told me.” The kid slips into this over-the-top angry cop voice. “OF COURSE I’M GIVING YOU A TICKET! You broke the law, and the law IS BLACK AND WHITE!”

The cop sighs in a way that says I don’t know what to tell you. Can we just move on? The class is silent for a while, then he announces that we’ll be taking the test. I didn’t bring a pen (man, I was breaking the scout motto all over the place), so I borrowed one. The questions are on the TV—multiple choice. When it’s done, he tells us that we have to promise not to cheat and to mark which ones we got wrong, then the TV displays all the answers. Cop’s not even watching. Best 35 bucks I ever spent. Learned so much. I mean, I have kept my distance from nuclear reactors since then. If nothing else, the whole experience knocked the ticket down from $190 ($190 for a bike ticket?!) to like $85 (+$35 for bike school, so $120 total). Woohoo!

Stay tuned for The Final Chapter, in which Russ flees the country in order avoid paying the rest of the fee.

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Cop Week: Day 4 — The Judge

The year was like 2 weeks after that last part, and I’d decided that I was going to fight my ticket tooth and nail…and fist…and probably weapon, and a lot of things more effective than my neatly trimmed nails and unsharpened non-fangs. But most of all, I was going to fight with my charm, so when my court date arose, I put on a button-up, squeezed into real pants, and donned my finest sandals.

The line was absurdly long, but on the plus side, the guy in front me told me all about the intricacies of cabinet design (though in this economy, people seem not to be hiring quite as many high-level cabinet engineers. Go figure), and the one behind me gave me a lesson or two on shanking technique. Both equally useful.

I made it into the courtroom and sat, with nothing to do but listen to the cases of those before me.

“I swear, your honor. The cigarette I threw out the car window was my friend’s.”

Judge: “That doesn’t actually matter.”

“I swear I was only going that fast so I could pass someone.”

Judge: “That doesn’t actually matter.”

And so on. The judge let people who did the cigarette throwing off the hook if they promised to quit smoking, which they all readily did.

Finally they called my name, and I stood, fully prepared to make the judge and audience swoon with my storytelling prowess. I stepped forward, ready to give the speech of a lifetime.

And was promptly kicked out of the courtroom.

I guess sandals aren’t allowed. Oops.

Two weeks later, I was back, shoed and ready for action! I explained my whole story with all the wit and charm I could muster, weaving tales of the my good-natured, law-abiding ways and the terrors of the evil cop and his sinister mustache. I had the audience laughing at my every sentence, enraptured by the first semi-interesting appeal in their three hours of mindless sitting. Even the judge was impressed, but then he told me that no matter how much he enjoyed my tale, the cheapest way to deal with the ticket would be to go to bike school–the very fate I’d come to court to avoid! I tried to cull a lesson from this, but all I could think was that I hadn’t needed to get up early in the morning, and more importantly, I hadn’t needed to wear pants. Awful, constricting, heat-trapping, soul-sucking pants. The world is a cruel, cruel place.

Stay tuned for the Penultimate Post of Cop Week, in which Russ misunderstands the meaning of Bike School and sends his bike to class.

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