I intended for this blog to be used as a showcase for cute, cuddly things. For funny things. For cheerful and lovely things.
I did not intend for it to become my own personal punching bag.
However. In light of the fact that I'm only about an hour removed from the discovery of this particular incident, and still very, verrrrrrry ticked off, it has become exactly that. My venting Spot 'o Rage. So, let this serve as a warning to anyone who is having a nice sunshiny Mr. Rogers kind of day: You might want to skip right on past this little jewel of a rant to preserve the warm fuzzies you currently feel.
And with that warning, here's Reason #459 why I will not be sad to move away from this "Land of Enchantment" in exactly thirty four days...
Today when Russ brought in the mail, we found this nifty little treat mixed in with the various bills and assorted junkmail whatnot:
Two pictures of my van, one zoomed in on the license plate and one shot from farther away, along with a $250 fine.
(I've heard lots of talk lately about this happening to people all over the city. Talk about "S.T.O.P", as our dear mayor has coined the "operation", has replaced talk of the drought in these parts. Apparently one poor irate person, driving past the same spot on the way to work every day, received four speeding ticket violation notices in one week! ...But I never fathomed, as I was chuckling at all of the kooked-out people ranting away on the radio, this not so ha-ha thing would happen to me.)
According to Officer Bullroar, my vehicle was determined by radar to have been operating at a speed of 60 miles an hour in a zone posted 35 miles an hour.
I'm not usually one to argue with the Long Arm of the Law. However, let me just take a moment to clarify why that charge is complete and total horsepucky:
1.) The photograph is taken at a point on the road where it would have been *mathematically impossible for me to achieve that speed. (Jeff Gordon would have been hard-pressed to reach it.) The reason being is that it is less than 1/10th of a mile past a 4-way-stop intersection. My Honda Odyssey and its automatic transmission, be it ever so splendid and cushy, is still a minivan, and as such, unable to achieve 60 miles an hour in less than 3 seconds (even if I came off the stop and floored it, wheels spinning and screeching and smoke flying).
2.) We went online and tried to view the "video proof" of my violation. Only to find that said video is not available for violations beginning with "AV". Yep. You guessed right - my violation number starts with an "AV". Perhaps that's because there is no video proof and speed cannot be proven with a photo. (It's a "take my word for it, m'am" situation.)
3.) The fine was not signed by an actual law enforcement officer. It was stamped (and looks like "ajsdhfuadgjasbdgauh") on the issuing officer signature line. ...Perhaps that's because the "issuing officer" was actually a sixteen year old kid having a hoot of a time doing his super-cool summer job, zapping people with a radar gun in an unmarked white van parked at Blake's Lottaburger.
4.) There is another vehicle shown in the photograph, thirty feet or so in front of/diagonally beside me (you can just barely see it in the photo). A silver mini-van blur whizzing by in the left lane, leaving me in the dust (perfectly not blurry and wonderfully photographable) in the right lane.
5.) We are moving cross-country in five-ish weeks, making it impossible for either of us to show up for a To-Be-Assigned-If-You-Don't-Want-To-Just-Take-It-Up-The-Rear Hearing in "90-120 days" to dispute this big, fat, bogus charge.
6.) ...And, I don't know what to do with this little pearl of info, but it can be filed under "curious and noteworthy facts" nonetheless - the postmark on the envelope is stamped "Scottsdale, AZ". (Huh? McFly. My "speeding violation" supposedly occured in New Mexico. Don't even tell me that the "official headquarters" is based in Arizona.)
Russell's theory is that I got caught in the radar "zone" of the vehicle going by slightly faster than me. I don't know... It sounds plausible, I guess. I do remember somebody zipping around me a couple of weeks ago as I was passing by the Subway near our house. (...Or maybe the Red Flash of Hell that I've been seeing for the past hour has fried my brain and I just made that "memory" up right after he suggested it.) The problem is, I can't say whether that's what happened or not. I can't prove or disprove anything, much to Officer Bullroar's delight.
My theory is that Officer Bullroar needed to meet his Ticket Distributing Quota (affectionately known as "Operation Super Blitz" around here) for the month and just aimed his handy-dandy radar gun at pretty much every vehicle passing by - never thinking, "Huh. Perhaps I shouldn't have parked in a place where the photo would clearly depict how absolutely and utterly impossible it would be for anyone to achieve the speed that I'm accusing him/her of reaching. Or perhaps I should have written down 'forty five in a thirty five' instead of some speed only Superman could achieve."
The City of Albuquerque and its 7-million-made-dollars doesn't give a hairy rip about my explanation anyway. Even though they are currently in the middle of numerous class-action lawsuits, for exactly this type of mail-in violation charge, they are still making enough sweet, sweaty wads of cash to make it waaaaaay worth it to them.
Since my choices are:
A.) Pay the fine by mail and have it magically erased in a POOF from my record. (Sound shady - perhaps maybe a wee bit like a "shake down" in large scale?)
B.) Fly in from Arkansas to show up for a hearing in 90-120 days after filing a dispute to argue my case. (Effectively plunking down way more than $250 for a plane ticket and hotel...but by golly getting a chance to argue my point.)
C.) Disregard it and be subjected to "serious legal consequences", including the loss of my vehicle and the assessment of additional fines and monies due.
...I guess I'll just pay the friggin' fine. I can't really do what the rest of Albuquerque seems to be doing - chunking it in the trash (there have been numerous news reports about people just flat-out ignoring the fines, in effect saying "Ha! Up yours, dear Mayor!") because Russ can't have a civil issue on his record without putting his Q-clearance in jeopardy (the van is registered in his name).
I told Russell in a red-faced, pop-a-vein-in-my-forehead rant, "You know how I feel about litigious people, right? ...Well, let's just pay the fine and then join the class action suit." (Even though we'll only get about a nickle back after all of the lawyers are paid and the money is distributed amongst everyone involved in the suit.)
Mmm hmm. This stupid city with all of its drunk drivers, non-stop traffic jams, kooky liberal laws, crystal/moon voodoo magic, and fabricated traffic violations has finally turned me into one of those people. Someone look up the number for the Branch Law Firm. I'm all puffed up and ready to sue somebody.
*Russ actually did the math, four pages of equations (none of which I understood) to prove his "not mathematically possible" point. It might not be worth a whole pile of beans in an actual court situation, but I dare any citation officer to argue with Mr. Math Whiz on his computations.
Oh, man. This is just RICH. I'm beginning to suspect that maybe I'm part of a hoax and the Candid Camera people are actually hiding in a closet somewhere in my house, laughing hysterically. The phone just rang. It was the Albuquerque Police Department. Asking for a donation. (...I don't guess we'll get into what my response was.)