Sometimes being an amazing daddy like me means facing your shame.
Driving from Los Angeles to San Diego back in September, I was going too fast and got a speeding ticket. In the United States of America, people drive a lot faster than they do here in Australia – probably because there aren’t billboards every five minutes warning you that you’re about to kill yourself and everyone else within a 20 mile radius like you’re some kind of nuclear bomb on wheels. I’ve certainly paid the price for that cultural confusion, amassing no less than $30,000 AUD for just three speeding tickets.
Well, on the way to San Diego, I guess I got a little carried away. I was with some friends, we were laughing, taunting other drivers, trying to hit animals in the road and just doing what people do when they’re on a road trip.
And then I got busted, slapped with a hefty fine. I won’t say for how much, because that’s private. But it was enough that I thought there might have been some sort of error. So I got on the blower to the driving authority in California.
It occurred to me that there was probably some crucial lesson about speeding and accountability and God in all of this, so I had my little miracle baby sit on my lap and turned the speaker phone on as I called the municipal court.
As usual, I should explain that the views of my little miracle baby are not my own. I think people who work for the government are a wonderful, under appreciated resource and should be treated with dignity and respect at all times, even if they are less than courteous and/or informed.
I dialled the number and was on hold for 35 minutes, which my baby said made him “die a little bit inside.” Such a drama queen.
Someone finally picked up.
Government Employee: What.
Me: Hello. I received a speeding ticket. The ticket number is [redacted – that’s private] and I just wanted to make sure I had the amount correct. Is it really [private!] dollars?
GE: Yes. Or [many more – again, private!] dollars if you want to take a driving class.
Me: It’s more to take a class?
GE: That’s right.
My Little Miracle Baby: Sounds like this horrible person needs to take a class in how to have human feelings.
GE: Who was that?
Me: Nobody. So what’s the scale? I mean, if I was going 19mph over the limit, what is the penalty for going 5mph?
GE: I don’t know. I’m sure you could find out with some research.
MLMB: Um, is there any way you could do some research into how not to be such a *#&@(@#$ $(#*$@#?
GE: Excuse me?
Me: Okay, well, I don’t live in the US – is there any way I can pay with a foreign credit card?
GE: I could take your credit card info, but I won’t know if it works until days later.
MLMB: Oh. So, how am I supposed to pay this?
GE: Do you have any family in the US that can send a check?
MLMB: Jesus Christ! Is this happening? Are we on the phone with America or *#*(&;@# Soviet Russia? &;#*$!!
Me: Hey, take it easy.
GE: Do you have any other questions?
MLMB: I don’t know. Do you have any actual information that’s of use to anyone? Seriously, how much longer do we talk on this machine before we realize that it’s just a brain dead moose on the other end, propped up on a desk, drooling all over its headset? Maybe someone’s moving the head and making noises so it seems like a person is speaking, but it’s really just a brain dead f@#*$*@# moose.
Me: Wow. I am so sorry.
GE: If you don’t have any other questions, I’m going to have to move on.
MLMB: Move on to what? How are you going to top this performance? By murdering a puppy? *@(@*# this…
Suddenly, my baby started slamming different buttons on the phone until he got to the speaker phone one and hung up.
It wasn’t clear by the way he eventually screamed himself to sleep, but hopefully my baby learned an important lesson about what it’s like to take responsibility for your motor vehicle-related actions. Or, hopefully he learned where the speakerphone button is on the phone. Really, all he had to do was ask. I would have told him.