Just minding my own business…
So I have recently proven that it is possible to get a ticket for jaywalking. I was walking to the train station in the morning on the way to work and running a bit late. Rather than wait for the little green man to come out and tell me it was safe to cross, I went ahead and crossed in the face of Mr. Big Red Hand after thoroughly looking in both directions for oncoming cars multiple times. As I was continuing on with my journey, a police car pulled over in front of me. Luckily, I caught the whole thing on video:
And after all of that, he still decided to give me a ticket. For jaywalking. At 7:30am on a sunny morning on a street with no cars coming. Yes, I did break the law, but who am I endangering? Just myself and even that risk is minimal. I am able-bodied and have two working eyes; I think I can spot and avoid a giant car driving in a straight line.
So when I get home, I try to just settle the thing and be done with it. They have a web pay system, convenient, except I’m not in the system yet. I wait two days, still not there. I call; still not in the system. I check weekly until a month goes by and I get a notice in the mail. Guess what, I now owe the city of Mountain View $200. Two. Hundred. Dollars. Or I can challenge the ticket in court for only the nominal court fee of $200 instead. Glad I have options.
As you might imagine, I was a bit upset (which is why it took me 2 months to calm down enough to be able to write about it). Let’s compare to other moving violations. I and every other driver on the road break the law every time we get behind the wheel of a car in ways similarly benign as jaywalking; rolling through that stop sign, driving 5-10 mph over the limit, pushing that yellow light a bit too far, or failing to use a turn signal (gasp!). All illegal, all can put others at substantial risk (at least compared with a pedestrian), and yet fines for these typically float around $100 and are rarely enforced. Thanks for all the justice. And thanks to the police officer for protecting me from myself. Had he not been there to give me a ticket to discourage my dangerous lifestyle, what terrible fate would have befallen me?
The lesson I have learned here is this: don’t live near the police station. You would think doing so would increase your safety, but it just gives the long arm of the law more opportunities to reach into your wallet.
If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.
– attributed to Armand Jean du Plessis Duc de Richelieu (Cardinal Richelieu)