Friday, September 10, 2010
The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Speeding Ticket
It all happened on a Sunday morning. The team from ISU was here, and we were on our way back from church in Thabong. There was a grand total of 10 grown men in our car. Now the Toyota Avanza was designed as a low-cost Malaysian alternative to a minivan, designed to seat 7. However, I need to point out that it was designed for Malaysians, whose average height is 6 inches shorter than that of American men. I would venture a guess that their average weight is significantly less as well. Really, when is the last time you saw a heavy Malaysian? I rest my case.
So here is our overloaded car, and I'm scrunched into the driver's seat cruising back into town. It was the middle of the month, and I should have known, since traffic officers are notoriously more numerous mid-month. The reason is people are paid at the end of the month here, and so by the middle they are running low on cash. I'll let you fill in the blanks of what is supposed to happen when they pull you over.
Anyway, they had set up just as the speed changes from 80 km/hr to 60 km/hr. According to their speed gun I was going 78 km/hr. One difference between traffic officers here and those in the US is that here they rarely pull you over. Typically they just sit alongside the road with their radar and cameras and then a couple weeks later the registered owner of the car receives a ticket in the mail. However, this doesn't allow for the earning of a "mid-month bonus", so instead of shooting a picture of my car's license, this guy comes charging out into the middle of the highway. He wanted to be sure I saw him, so he came almost into my lane and waved me over. However, because my car was so overloaded it took me about 100 meters to come to a stop.
Had I thought quickly enough I could have just kept driving, because they weren't using the camera for obvious reasons, and they couldn't have chased me down in their car because it was parked a bit back from where they were stationed. But with the onset of my advanced age, my thinking skills have slowed. So there I was sitting in a car with way too many people, not knowing what they would say about that. Up walks the traffic officer and before he even arrives at the window he starts to ask "Would you like to see your speed on the radar gun?" (Now I may sound like one of those strange homeschoolers - probably because I am both strange and homeschooled - but I have learned a thing or two. Take the killdeer bird, for example. It will often fake injury, pretending to be unable to fly, in order to lead predators away from it's young. And I felt about this ISU team as if they were my own offspring, so I felt it my duty to lead the predators away from them. Especially since I would have been the one in trouble anyway.) So I quickly agree to walk back the 100 meters with this traffic officer to accept my lumps.
The gun did say 78 km/hr, and it was probably accurate. I wasn't about to give them their mid-month bonus though. Turns out the fine was about R200 or roughly $25. Given what the alternative would have been in the US for going about 12 miles over the speed limit, the R200 didn't seem so extreme. And now I know exactly where the speed limit changes from 80 down to 60.
Posted by Louis O'Tool at 11:58 AM