Thursday, January 25, 2007

Breaking the law, breaking the law

About two years ago, I had to attend traffic school. This is funny in and of itself to anyone who knows me, since I'm not what you would call a speedy driver, and if anything, I'm ’overly cautious, sitting at intersections long enough to let potential traffic from the Interstate in Kansas come barreling through.
So how did I end up spending a Saturday in a classroom at Salem State College learning how to be a safe driver? I got about three tickets within a one-month span for having an expired inspection sticker. I may not drive fast, but that doesn't mean I'm responsible when it comes to things like driving to a gas station and shelling out $29 so the fuzz will stop trying to bring me down. In an interesting little side note, I did manage to rack up each ticket for driving with an expired inspection sticker in a different city, one in Lynn, one in Beverly, and one, if I remember right, in Salem.
So I get the letter from the registry telling me I'’ll lose my license if I don'’t pay another $100 and attend a remedial driver education class. Okay, my bad, whatever it takes.

I show up to class early on a Saturday morning, and learn that I may be the only person who has been forced to take remedial driver's education for having an excessive amount of inspection sticker violations. Class begins with each of the 20 or so state-mandated bad drivers telling the instructor what they did to get themselves into the class. After about three or four of the students tell their stories. It becomes very clear that I am going to be the '“one of these things is not like the other' guy.

Guy number one: I was coming home from the bar after drinking about 15 Bud Lights, I spun out across the highway, and ran into a cop car going the wrong way.

Instructor: Can you see where that might not be a good thing?

Guy number two: I have a new Mercedes SL and I like to drive really fast.

Instructor: Do you see behaviors you might be able to change?

Woman number one: More drunk driving, speeding, driving with a suspended license, etc.

Instructor: Be more careful, think before you drive, be courteous, etc.

Truly scary bald guy with tattoos sitting next to me: I just got out of prison for stealing cars and I'’m hoping this will help me look good in the eyes of the state when I try to get my license back.

Instructor: Isn't it good to obey the law?

Me: Uhhh, I got a lot of tickets for driving without an inspection sticker.

Instructor: They can send you to driver's ed for that?

Me: Registry said they would take my license away if I didn'’t complete this course.

Instructor: I'’ve never heard that one before. So, okay, maybe you should get your car fixed and get an inspection sticker.

The rest of the afternoon consisted of breaking into groups to discuss possible good driving behaviors that could help us on the road. Every time the discussion rolled back around to me, it was more of the Yeah, I should really get an inspection sticker.

I don'’t really remember too much else about the class, other than being on break and scary tattoo guy relating how he hid underwater in a stagnant pond for a couple of hours before the police dogs found him and he was busted for stealing cars.
After that there was a test that everyone in the class passed and the ceremonial signing of the RMV form by the instructor, making the roads once again safe for the drunks, the speeders, the thieves, and me.

Friday, January 05, 2007

A warm winter's day

It took me until nearly 3:30 this afternoon to fully realize that it is 65 degrees outside, the warmest January 5th on record in the state, and that the very large heater that sits five feet away from my desk at work has been on full blast all day. After about three hours of sweating, turning red, and beginning to feel faint, it suddenly dawned on me that it might be a good idea to shut the heater off and open the window just a crack.
Sure enough, the auto temperature reading on the blast furnace was reading 82 degrees when I went to shut it off. Of course, now there will probably be some kind of interoffice memo kindly reminding all employees not to touch the thermostat at any time between the months of October and April, unseasonably balmy winter weather be damned.