Well, I am sure that there is a great deal that I have to learn about blogging… the stats are not looking all that inspiring so far! But that is ok. It is fun to write things down, to share them, and to dream that someday, someone will happen upon this blog and find something that touches them or stirs some recognition or simply puts a smile on your face.. that would be pretty cool!
This entry has little to do with the fact that it is raining this evening. And, it has even less to do with life at 6 miles per hour. In fact, it is about the first and only speeding ticket that I earned a number of years ago when I happened to be visiting my kids in New England. I was on my way from my daughter’s place in VT to see my son who was and still is living with his mother in NH. I was somewhat disappointed with myself about getting a ticket, as I tend to be that guy driving nearly 65 mph on the high way who everyone is trying to pass! But I was snagged, fair and square.
On my way back to PA, I processed the event by formulating a play in my mind. The 8 hour trip gave me plenty of time to work on the project, and I wrote it down when I got home. A year later, it was performed at my school as part of the Winter Drama Workshop. In fact, two different directors did it with two different sets of actors. What an eye opening experience to see how the same script could be interpreted so differently.
I borrowed an idea from a local department store that often has sales during which the customer spins a spinner to see how much of a discount they earn as they check out. The local audience could quickly identify with this aspect of the play. The process of writing the play in my head eased the frustration stemming from the ticket and made the trip go by very quickly. I hope that you enjoy it!
The Speeding Ticket
Setting: a small mountain highway in rural NH
Po: good morning sir. My name is seargant Kerney with the Winooski police dept. do you know why I pulled you over?
J: well, have you ever pulled over someone for driving too slowly?
J: and I suppose that today won’t be your first time?
J: did my registration sticker fall off of my license plate
PO: cutting J off sir you were driving 56 miles per hour in a 40 mile an hour zone..
J: that isn’t too good
PO: no sir, it is not . may I see your license and registration please
J: of course handing over the documents
PO: jack T of 150 Blair ave, kingston pa?
J: that is right
Po: where are you headed Mr. T?
J: are you allowed to ask that question?
PO: of course I am allowed to ask that question. I always ask that question.
J: do I have to answer it?
PO: I can’t see why you would not want to.. everyone answers the question. Of course, if you don’t want to, maybe I should search your car.
J: that won’t be necessary. I am on my way to my ex-wife’s for lunch. She always used to hate it when I was late for meals.. I can hear her now.. “ nothing has changed.. your still late for lunch!”
Of course, that is not why I was speeding, mind you. Here I was trapped on a two lane mountain road behind a logging truck – 30 mph uphill. You can imagine my joy when the road opened up and I spotted a new passing lane. Natualy, I goosed it a bit to get around the truck..
PO: only one problem
J: what is that?
PO: you forgot to slow down
J: yes I guess that is a bit of a problem
PO: this will take a minute, please remain in your car
A moment later..
Ok Mr. T, here is your license and registration. The charge for your ticket is $72.
J: am I free to go now?
po: not quite, please remain here
( police officer goes back to his car and retrieves a roulette wheel)
PO: ok, please spin the wheel..
J: you want me to spin the wheel? ( incredulously)
PO: it is a new initiative .. the chief’s idea.. there has been a lot of negative reaction to the department among the locals so he is hoping to foster good will. You spin the wheel and earn the appropriate discount on your ticket.
J: (continues in an incredulous tone) you just issued me a speeding ticket, and now you want to spread good will?
Po: just spin the wheel sir
J: if I did not know any better, I would think that I was shopping at a Boscov’s sale
Po: what was that?
J: oh, nothing, you would not understand
(a few seconds pass as wheel slows down)
j: what is wrong?
Po: it landed on 90% off
J: (smiling) well, that is a good thing, isn’t it?
Po: ( despondently) I have only had three traffic stops all month, and in each case the criminal has earned 90% off. The chief is going to rip off my head
J: wait a minute, a traffic stop makes me a criminal?
Po: well, you did break the law
J: yes, but I had no idea that I would be branded a criminal for life.. they don’t teach that in grade school.. maybe if they did I would have paid better attention to the speed limit signs..
PO: I can’t go back to the station with this report
J: hmmm, would you like me to spin again, maybe this time I will get a smaller discount?
Po: no, that would be unethical – may I have your ticket back?
(J passes ticket back to po: )
PO: ( continuing in a despondent tone ) there you go, 90% off leaves you with a ticket of 7 dollars and 20 cents.
J: well thank you officer, I am sorry that I ruined your day. Is that all?
Po: no, there is one more thing
( reaching inside his coat, the police officer takes a sheet of paper and hands it to J)
would you please fill this out?
J: what is it
Po: it is a customer satisfaction survey
J: (again incredulous) are you kidding?
PO: another idea from the chief – it should not take too long
J: you want me to do it right now?
PO: that is right, here is a pen
J: well, the first one is easy.. “ officer is courteous” I can give you a high mark there. In fact, if there was a space for me to write in I would add that you have very good diction
PO: good what?
J: diction, I understood everything that you said. If this police thing does not work out, maybe a job in radio would suit you
PO: thank you
J: let’s see “efficiency” that is easy, I was pretty amazed at how quickly you figured out my discount. I can certainly give you high marks on this one
Po: third time this month..
J: right.. now I might have a problem with this last one “demeanor” there are only three options for me to select.. “ ecstatic, happy , cheerful “
Are police officers typically ecstatic when they pull over speeding drivers?
PO: no, the chief likes to frame things positively, and he ran out of words..
J: I see. they really should have an option like “down in the dumps” can I write that in?
PO: I don’t think that would go over too well
J: well, I could mark cheerful, but that probably would not be too ethical.
Po: no, I don’t suppose it would
J: so here we have a situation where I am happy because I get to pull away with only a small fine but your day is ruined because you have to tell your chief that you let another “criminal” go with a huge discount, and, on top of that, I have to give you a negative survey.
PO: I wish that I had never pulled you over..
J: ok, I have an idea.. suppose you rip up the ticket and issue me a warning.. then you don’t have to report the discount.. that might perk you up. And then I can give you a satisfactory survey – cheerful would be a legitimate description.. and that will make your chief happy.
PO: good idea ( he reaches for the ticket and rips it up)
J: let me put the final touches on this survey… ( writes on the paper and then hands it to the police officer)
PO: thank you sir, have a great day
J: you bet, and have a great day yourself!
Po: be careful out there – lots of folks speed on this road
J: you bet!