Sept. 25, 2004

Jeanne Travis & Peter Ellenby's Wedding

Sept. 6, 2004

Lettuce Amuse U Traffic School

If Daisy Duke had a little sis, who didn't really look like her, but liked to get from point A to point B the fastest way possible... that would be me. Granted, I don't have the General Lee or a tricked out Jeep to get me back and forth to work, but my Green VW Beetle I call Prisilla, can speed from my San Fran casa to Skywalker Ranch in about 45 minutes...if I go about 15 miles over the speed limit of 55. So it's no shocker that after a year and a few months of commuting that I'd get caught by the fuzz and get a speeding ticket.

Even in this state where the dotcom boom began, there are still a few counties where online traffic school isn't allowed. And since I got the speeding ticket in Marin county, I had to sign up for actually dentention-like traffic school. Out of all the schools that my co-workers suggested (pretty much half the company has gotten speeding tickets), one stood out: "Lettuce Amuse U Traffic School." I kid you not. That was the name of the school. I was going to spend an entire Saturday there with other vechicular delinquents.

The class was taught by a comedian/drummer Mick Berry. And to all our relief, he didn't crack jokes for the first ten minutes and then make us do some timed test about DUI percentages and deer lights.

Instead of the usual traffic school situation, we all told our "I can't believe I got a ticket" stories including one poor guy who was ticketed for speeding on the Golden Gate at 4am, when no one was even on the bridge. He sat behind me and we chatted about jumpers for a good 15 minutes.

"Ya know the cops throw life preserves into the water after the jumper leaps," he said.

"Well, that seems a bit overly optimistic doesn't it? I mean the fall alone usually pulverizes the jumper's insides, right?" finally putting my C.S.I. viewing obsession to good use.

"It's thrown to show the cops which direction the corpse will be floating so they can find it later," he said a matter of factly.

During the lengthy class, we were asked to write down all our traffic questions down that we had, and our instructor would answer them. Then he'd ask us to choose a Trivial Pursuit type question about movies (which usually were oldies I knew nothing about), music, history, geography and his personal life. Throughout the day I learned various traffic regulations, when the parachute was first invented and that our instructor was a professional musician who wrote a book about drumming called The Drummer's Bible and at 42 still had commitment issues with his girlfriend.

We'd get points if we answered the questions right, but of course we also got points for entertaining our instructor and class with smartass comments -- so naturally my team won. I think I got 25 points just for my drummer jokes alone. I had named our team the Boss Hog Underachievers (merging a "Dukes of Hazzard" and The Big Lewbowski references that no one in the class got).

Just in case any of you reading this live in California, here's a few of the traffic questions we had answered:

Q. Why doesn't Marin County offer online traffic school?
A. Because they just don't.

Q. Do the police treat MUNI bus drivers with the same rules and regulations as the rest of us?
A. Nope. Apparently since driving a city bus is such an ordeal, they cut the drivers plenty of slack. Which would explain why so many people in San Francisco are run down by drivers who just don't seem to be paying attention.

Q. Are there any cell phone usage while driving regulations?
A. Not in California. I guess while you're using that cell phone to chat with pals in traffic, you might as well call 911 as well.

Q. If an on-duty cop damages your car, can you still file a complaint even if they didn't stop?
A. A hit and run is a hit and run, no matter who you are. Get the officer's license plate number and call your insurance. Of course, what the guy who knew about jumpers told me later, the cop might not be so happy about it and you might have an old fashioned grudge against you. So you really have to think about how important a broken sidedoor window really is to you.

Q. What is the biggest cause of accidents in the city and on the highway?
A. City accidents: running red lights. Highway: tailgating.

Other traffic trivia worth noting:

  • You can be arrested for driving over 100 mph.
  • If you play your stereo too loud, you can be ticketed.
  • If you park in your driveway but block the sidewalk, you'll get a $100 ticket.
  • Parking in the bus zone (even with your hazards on) will get you a $250 ticket.
  • Parking at a blue handicapped curb will get you a $275 ticket.
  • Statistically, drivers commit 2,000 traffic violations before they are caught.
  • The average cop writes 3 tickets a day.
  • A DUI can cost you up to $8,000 in fees, insurance rates, classes and more.
  • 2 Point Violations include: Hit and Run accidents, vehicular manslaughter, running from a cop, driving the wrong way on a freeway, drag racing.
At one point in the class, each team had to treat our instructor to either a legit sobriety test, or a creative false one. So I walked to the front of the classroom as the cop and asked the instructor to do a simple jazz dance routine following my lead... which he did. Then for the second part of the test I asked the question: "One train travels 300 mph from San Diego heads east and another train from New York heads Southwest going 200 mph, at one point the trains will crash and the coin dealer in seat 6F will realize that his rare coins collection that have 3,000 B.C. printed on them are indeed frauds. Why are the coins worthless and in what city does he realize it?"

Now THAT'S a drunk driving sobriety test!


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