CRAVEN – What If?
What if you woke up one day in a very unusual world where all the surroundings, sounds, smells, visions and all things you are so very familiar with seem to have vanished? It’s not like you just went to sleep and never woke up; it’s more akin possibly to the feeling of confusion and uncertainty that one would experience after consuming some smoke, two bottles of Jack, and a 12-pack. (Not that I am promoting the use of drugs or alcohol—but it’s always worked well for me!) So now that I have established a mysterious and somewhat vague stage for you to see my play on, I will open the show with the lost but entertaining art of illusion. Magic if you will. Prevarication—smoke and mirrors or worse. This is what makes you wonder if magic is real.
When you look at the sky and you know it’s blue: you have a pretty valid, cognizant, and stable realization of your knowledge regarding your surroundings. If someone hands you a baseball and you know it’s a baseball, but the person handing it to you swears that it is a pickup truck; you know for certain the one of two possible things have happened. One: You are hallucinating (see toxicology disclaimer above) or Two: Someone is trying to blow smoke up your butt. Why you ask am I wasting both of our valuable time and sanity with my reeling diatribe about some person place or thing that I have not yet revealed to you, the dedicated reader of this column whom deserves a sane and comprehensive explanation as to what the Hell I’m talking about. That’s just how I roll bitches!
If it walks like a Duck there’s a very strong possibility that someone has handed you a Goose. It’s very rare that I receive any mail here in the trailer park. This fact due to the very careful screening of incoming transmittals by management and staff for the covert gleaning of the intended recipient’s monthly welfare or disability check. This isn’t redolent of the very obvious & careful search of letters and packages that a person would receive in a Correctional Facility; it’s just a sneaky way to see what’s up with your neighbors and occasionally profit through conversion (read: accidental loss) of that particular person’s money. Because I do not get any of that sort of benefit, I am usually not the target of the alleged ‘inspection’ that I am discussing. But once again I digress. One day when I was certain that the sky was blue and the grass was green I retrieved my mail from the park office. Along with all those usual bills that I don’t pay there was an interesting item which I was not familiar with and had never seen the likes of in my life. Addressed to my legal name and address was a letter (well actually not a letter) informing me that I had to pay a “Fine” for running a red light. Ok I finally gave away the plot. I had gotten what is commonly called a Red Light Camera Ticket. … This as a fairly official looking document and some people may actually be persuaded to send away $158.00 to an address somewhere in the state of Ohio. Wait … I thought we were in Florida. Oh silly me, I must have been befuddled or no—I haven’t been drinking—so obviously there’s something wrong with this picture. After carefully examining the document I learned that there are a few options available to the recipient. Two of the options are just pay it although there is an option to download an affidavit from the web. This affidavit allows the lucky recipient of this scam to rat-out the person driving (your) car so that the perpetrators of this debacle can attempt to collect the money from that person instead of you. (In my case I wasn’t driving the car at the time, but I’m not into ratting folks out.) So it’s off to the Clerk of the Court to see about setting a court date. I hand the ‘ticket’ to the man behind the counter and he does the usual ‘looking up of the records’ and then informs me that there is NO traffic violation against my DL number. Ok “so what’s this thing here that I have in my hand” I had to ask. “Oh you got to call the number on the back of this ticket to set a hearing.” “What? So now it’s a ticket, but YOU can’t set a court date?” WTF?
Further examination of the document didn’t reveal a phone number, but it did have a return coupon to pay the fine if you want to call it that and in small print on the back you have the option of setting a hearing by mailing the item back to the very same address in Ohio. Does this mean that I have to go to traffic court in Ohio? Let’s hope not.
So what IS this thing that has no official title? Yes it exists because it’s a piece of paper but yet it only lives within itself according to the Courts. Additional research yielded interesting facts regarding this particular type of citation. Some of the facts are a little hard to believe since they are not in harmony with the Constitution of the United States or the state of Florida. Some jurisdictions are removing the cameras altogether while in one South Florida county a Judge has ruled the tickets unconstitutional dismissing the ‘charges’ upon their face. If a person is dumb enough to believe that there exists a positive to this sort of ‘enforcement’ (other than the fact that the privately owned companies who operate these cameras are making billions), then those people should leave the recreational intoxicants alone for a while. There is a class action suit here in Florida that will make these scam artists pay back anyone that was duped into just paying the fine but until these cameras are all dumped into the sea where they belong, rest assured that “Big Brother is Watching.” Do set a court date however: I attended Traffic Court once and the judge in that venue was not a big fan of these programs. He would reduce the fine if you want to call it that significantly for a no contest plea and the entire fiasco would be forgotten. Because there are no points issued against your license in these cases, I would suspect that the Insurance Lobby would either call for points to be issued or to have the cameras abolished. So should the city for that matter, since their take of this scam is miniscule in comparison to what the operators are making. “It is what it is” is all that comes to mind now.
So until next month, “Speed safely and smile for the camera”!