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"Uncle Troy Goes To Traffic School" by Troy H. Cheek on Feb 13, 2006
As I explained in Uncle Troy Goes To Jail last year, I was once involved in a very minor motor vehicle collision which wasn't the result of anything I did or didn't do, yet somehow ended up being my fault anyway simply because I was present at the time.
No, the trooper investigating the incident wasn't one of my ex-girlfriends.
I went into the courtroom represented by a lawyer who had a fool for a client. This is, I represented myself. I figured my many years operating on one side of the law or the other had given me enough knowledge to talk my way out of a simple traffic citation. This would be especially easy if, for example, the other parties involved failed to show up, which is often the case.
The other parties involved failed to show up. The trooper even failed to recognize it as one of his cases. I pulled out my file folder and got ready to start my defense. The judge looked over his glasses at me. "Would you like to go to traffic school?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Traffic school. Successfully pass a 6-hour course in traffic safety and we'll just throw the whole case out."
So, I'd gone in expecting to argue brilliantly and eventually prove that the citation was without merit and the entire situation was ridiculous and get the whole case thrown out. Instead, in the name of expediency, the judge had offered to throw the whole thing out. Besides, I'd been through driving classes before and they'd been a piece of cake.
Back when I went to school, we still had Driver Ed, or drivers' education. In fact, I didn't get my operator's license the Summer I turned 16 because I could get it the following Fall during Driver Ed. And I did.
Of course, I'd been driving for six years by then.
Later, just about every security job I'd held had some driving involved, so a traffic safety or driver training or some similar class or video or test had been included. I may have had this very course at some time in the past.
A few weeks later, I showed up at one of the local government buildings one sunny Saturaday to begin my "AAA Driver Improvement" class. I was surrounded by most of the people I'd seen in the courtroom during my own court appearance. Apparently, traffic school was a fairly popular option.
I sat down at an empty table, then moved twice. The first time to get upwind of a man who reeked of alcohol. The second time to get out of earshot of the old lady who was talking to herself about how her company policies trumped state law because her company was a state agency.
I had shaved, dressed up, wore my best white shirt, and carefully prepared and rehearsed my case in order to get the option of traffic school and having the case thrown out. Apparently, I could have shown up drunk and talking to myself and still gotten the same option. To be expected in our rural area, I suppose. Half the people in court had been wearing shorts and t-shirts, a few were wearing overalls, and a couple had to be reminded to remove their ball caps when court began.
A gaggle of highschool students showed up about then. I forget the exact reason they had been in court, but I do remember the judge suspending their licenses until they had successfully passed this course. I figured their mothers had dropped them off.
The guy teaching the class was a pretty cool dude. It was mostly watching a series of videotapes. His requirements for passing were that we showed up and stayed awake. In the end, only four of us failed. Two fell asleep and two didn't come back after the lunch break.
I watched the videos with more of a clinical interest than anything else. This wasn't the first time I'd seen most of the videos, or I'd seen something very similar. I did decide right then and there that I'd try to get my nephews in some class similar to this before they got their licenses and started driving.
Lunch break! I was only three miles from home, so I decided eat there rather than eat in town. Half the restaurants aren't open on the weekends, anyway. On the way out, I saw three cars full of highschoolers pulling out of the parking lot. I recognized two of the drivers as ones with suspended licenses. I almost flagged down the first cop I saw, but decided this would cut into my eating time.
I was eating when the phone rang. I was my old buddy and legal advisor, Bob. "Heph, Bomph! Whoomple fuffing acking bebble?" I said around a mouthful of soup.
"Hey, Troy! I was doing some more research, and I think that instead of paying a fine on that citation, you ought to go to traffic school. Now, there's a class today. If you hurry, you can sneak into the afternoon session and then pretend you've been there all day."
"I'm already in that class, Bob."
"Now, you won't have a receipt showing you registered that morning, but you can tell the instructor that you forgot your wallet and had to run back home during lunch to get it."
"I'm already in that class, Bob."
"Just tell the county clerk that of course the judge offered you a chance to go to traffic school, how else would you have known to go and how else would you have gotten into the class? Right?"
"I'm already in that class, Bob!"
"I'm already in that class. The judge offered to let me go."
"Oh, right! I get you! Sure he did! Right!"
"Goodbye, Bob." Click.
I was a little late getting back. In addition to taking longer than I had planned to eat the soup, I also had to look for my receipt. I'd stuck it in an envelope containing all the other important papers from this incident so I wouldn't loose it. I had put this envelope on top of my truck while digging out my keys to unlock said truck. I had apparently left the envelope on top of the truck as I'd driven off. I luckily found it again when I returned.
The afternoon session was a repeat of the morning session. The one guy still smelled of alcohol. The one lady was still talking to herself. The highshoolers arrived even later than I did so I wasn't the one who got lectured. We watched more videos and then went home.
The next week, I called up the county clerk to make sure everything was taken care of. It was.
A few weeks after that, the boss decided that it had been too long since we'd all been to a traffic safety class, so he announced we'd all have to come in the next weekend to take one. I showed him my certificate of completion and got out of that.
Of course, with everybody else in the class, I had to work that day.
Copyright 2006 by Troy H. Cheek. Reprint with prior written permission only. Comments and questions to
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|This page last updated on Feb 13, 2006 by Troy H. Cheek|