The most frustrating thing about getting a ticket for a moving violation is deciding which online traffic school to take.
After all, when you have a choice of 433 of them (I counted) on a list of California DMV-approved school sites, it's a struggle to pick between names like Too Lazy for Traffic School, Cheap Cartoon Online Traffic School, Romantic Comedy Traffic School (taught by Jennifer Aniston?), iGot Busted Traffic School, Most Wanted Traffic School, Gay & Lesbian Online Traffic School (for people who don't drive "straight"?), My Dog Traffic School or Zero to Hero Traffic School (what does that even mean?).
Yes, these are actual names of actual online courses. I was tempted to try the My Dog option, but I figured it might be run by someone with a "Dog is my co-pilot" bumper sticker. Or Marmaduke.
By now, you have rightly guessed that I recently received a traffic ticket. But did I get just one? Pshaw. That's for wusses. I got two -- count 'em, two. In less than one week. After nothing more serious than a parking citation in the past 15 years -- count 'em, 15. At this point, I would employ the phrase about when it rains it pours, but no one in California this winter would know what that means.
Anyway, my criminal career began about three weeks ago on a sunny Monday morning on my way to work when I turned right on red without seeing the "No turn on red" sign at a signal not far from my home, but on a route I rarely use. A motorcycle officer instantly appeared, flashing his pretty blue lights. I flashed my pleading blue eyes. He gave me a ticket. Fortunately, it wasn't for solicitation.
Then on the following Saturday night, I was driving to a relative's house in Los Altos. I had just passed through the toll plaza on the Dumbarton Bridge and sped up to what seemed the flow of traffic, realized I'd overshot the limit and was starting to slow when ... blue lights, blue eyes, ticket.
Question: Why is the Bay Bridge 50 mph, the San Mateo 65 and the Dumbarton 55? Only your CHP officer knows for sure.
Since this duo of unfortunate infractions, I've been quite skittish. It's an odd feeling for someone who really loves to drive, like a greyhound smacked on the nose with a newspaper merely for doing what comes naturally -- running fast. I'm quick, it's true. But I try to be safe. I'm alert and, I think, capable. At least I can parallel park without running into a tree, as one man did in front of our house when trying to park for our yard sale.
True or false: I think that I shall never see, a thing as stationary as a tree.
Fortunately, I was allowed to take traffic school for one of my violations, steering clear of the My Dog, the Rock Bottom or Idiots traffic school and opting for the online course provided by Santa Rosa Junior College. It cost a little more, but it sounded more legit than Caught Red Handed, Piece of Cake or Speed Through traffic school, which is what got me in trouble in the first place.
The course was pretty easy, and I passed. It's actually good to do because it reminds you of things you often let slide. Indeed, I am paying more attention to the rules of the road, and annoying my spouse by spouting off paraphrased sections of the vehicle code at every turn. Did you know it's two points on your license if you're caught drag racing or going 100 mph? (Not that he was doing either of those things at the time.) See that stuffed Pokemon dangling from that woman's rearview mirror? According to California law, no person may drive any motor vehicle with any object or material placed, displayed, installed, affixed or applied in or upon the vehicle that obstructs or reduces the driver's clear view through the windshield or side windows. Safe driving requires constant vigilance! (I like that one because it sounds like Mad-Eye Moody from Harry Potter.)
Question: Is there a Harry Potter Traffic School? If so, is it legal to use an invisibility cloak while driving?
What this all adds up to is about $330 for the first ticket, including traffic school fee, and probably that much if not more for the second (I haven't gotten the info in the mail about that one yet).
I wonder how much a bus pass is.
Follow Angela Hill at Twitter.com/GiveEmHill.