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My need for speed drew tickets and a few thrills

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Posted: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 12:00 am

Didja hear about the dad who was a little disappointed in the progress his 12-year-old son was making through his journey called "life"?

The father was comparing his son to a great American named Abraham Lincoln. "Son," said the dad, "Did you know that when he was your age, Abraham Lincoln already had a job in a grocery store?"

The kid said, "Yup, and when he was your age, he was President of the United States."

All my dad wanted was for his kids to get good grades and avoid speeding tickets. My sister and brother did each of those beautifully. They each got lots of A grades and one moving violation (for which I was totally responsible).

I will explain: On my wedding day, as was the case in a family of true squareheads, we treated ourselves to a loud and slightly speedy celebratory automobile procession through the streets of Lodi. We were the last car in the parade and got kind of stranded by a red light at the corner of Pine and School streets.

I told my best man-chauffeur-brother to just drive through the light, because no Lodi cop would be so cold-hearted as to write someone a ticket under such happy circumstances. Wrong. We got the only cold-hearted cop on the force, who probably fought with his wife that morning — and he was our representative of Lodi law and he heartlessly pulled us over. I ain't saying it was an omen, but it did have an effect on the blessed union years later.

Anyway, after he scared my poor brother half to death, we got Mr. Law to sign the back of the marriage license just to prove there was at least one hard-hearted crime-fighter who wasn't afraid to show that, in his jurisdiction, no crime, no matter how insignificant, would go unpunished to prove him soft on crime.

So, in effect, I was the so-called surrogate in that violation and did pay the $5 fine (Lodi wasn't broke in those days, so since the city was solvent, it didn't have to rely on income from vehicular criminality fines imposed on best man-chauffer-brothers who ran red lights under duress.)

It's not like that these days. Kettleman Lane looks like a Chicago drug bust with all the red and blue lights these mornings ever since the speed limit went down to 35 mph. Each fine levied these days would have operated the entire city's functions for a week in 1952 money.

I didn't want to mention getting four speeding tickets in one weekend, but the statute done run out so I fear no black and white police cruiser and I am out driving. Funny what love will do to a fellow when 350 miles lies between him and his betrothed. So I set practically every speed record between Lodi and Glendale in a 1946 Ford "Thrifty-six." It was kind of a joke because the car only looked fast, with its Caribbean Coral paint job and leaded-in exterior (no extraneous chrome to slow the car in the wind).

Actually I ain't scared of nothin' nowadays because my cruise-control and 20 years of newly acquired self-control stands between me and another ticket. Getting tickets was never fun; however it did great things for my pulse rate and provided me with an occasional human interest treat. One of the judges I had to face in Central California was named Flossie Lobo. It's really hard to look at a name plate on a judge's desk that says "Judge Flossie Lobo" and manage to look serious and on point.

I think I did mention the Department of Motor Vehicles suggested in a letter to the legal owner of my car, my long-suffering dad, that putting a raw egg on the accelerator pedal of the car might take some of the speed out of the jack-rabbit starts to which I was addicted in those halcyon days of 25 cent gas, cheap tires and Saturdays off.

Interestingly enough, I never had an accident for the first 35 years of my driving cars, and even that collision was a fluke because of the other guy's lack of vehicular operational savvy. Dumb bunny was avoiding another car that wasn't even close.

Oh well, save for a bump on my daughter's lower lip, there was no harm and no foul, except of course, the fact I had to get a whole new front half of the car. A screaming Firebird 400.

A sad day for my children's dad.

Bob Bader is a writer and a practicing chiropractor. You may write him at bobbyo@softcom.net.

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