Good-Bye and Good Riddance

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Mercury in Retrograde***, I can’t say I’ll miss you. Suffice it to say I didn’t even know about you a mere few weeks ago, nor did I buy into this whole astrology biz (still not sure if I do, but regardless, I’m using your alleged presence to justify my recent streak of bad luck), but you’ve impacted my life more than you’ll ever know. First, you caused me to get my car towed (on top of that, a parking ticket). Thanks for that, by the way. Then, you were clearly at the root of my hard drive failure, resulting in hours of time lost and hundreds of dollars doled out to Apple’s Genius Bar. (Side note: If ever I were to quite my job as a writer, I’d totally lobby to become an Apple Genius, if only so my business card reads just that, because while we’re being honest, I know little about computers other than how to check my e-mails and occasionally post a blog on the Internets.) You ruined my second favorite summer dress (seen here) after I wore it just once, and you almost broke my three biggest toes on my right foot while in Napa Valley last week, sending a wave of panic through me that I might not finish my marathon after all, but alas, you knew when to draw the line. Or so I thought.On the drive from San Francisco down to Paso Robles on Wednesday — book research, as always — I was cruising at my normal highway speed, 70-80 the whole time (CA standard speed limit is 70), when I noticed a cop perform a quick 180 about half a mile behind me, come barreling over the grassy knoll and turn on his lights. Who, me? Sure, I was going 77 at that point, but um hello, isn’t that about standard on the highway? And surely not enough to prompt that whole scene. But yet, I was quickly blinded by visions of red and blue lights.

I rolled down my window, handed over my license and registration and went through the routine. I started to cry silently — I can’t help it, this is just what I do when angry — but I wasn’t even about to let him see that or to try and get out of this one. I was going seven above the limit, I was going to take it like a (whoa)man. Then, he demanded my insurance form, and amidst the handfuls of paper I’d frantically pulled out of the glove box, I couldn’t find it. Great. I asked him if he could just check on it using my registration; he refused. Then, he handed me my ticket to sign and I saw the glaring error: NINETY-FOUR MILES PER HOUR. Now, I’m no leadfoot. Sure, I speed like your average person, going five above the limit at times, occasionally 10. But SEVENTEEN FREAKIN’ MILES? I’m sorry, but I don’t even know what that feels like.

Me: “Um Officer, I’m afraid you’ve made a mistake. And I don’t feel comfortable signing something that’s such an obvious lie.”

Jackass Cop: “You were going 94.”

Me: “Do you have proof of this? How can you be sure? I’m having a little trouble coming to terms with the fact that it’s your word against mine, when clearly you’re not being truthful.”

Jackass: “I could tell based on visual estimation and a lot of training.”

Me: “Well, I don’t really see that that’s fair, now do you?”

Jackass: “Contest it in court.”

Me: “Well, if you’d just be honest about the whole thing and write down that I was going 77, then I would just pay the fine and not worry about the whole little court thing. Speaking of which, if you think there’s something to contest, then why don’t you write down my truthful speed?”

Jackass walks away, his jiggly behind wobbling as he went.

He also cited me for not having proof of insurance, despite the AAA card I keep in my wallet and packet they sent me that crowds my glove compartment. Also, please tell me how I could have a registered car if I lacked insurance? It just ain’t possible.

While I kept my composure the entire time I was speaking to him — well up until the last couple minutes — the second he headed back to his car, I took the liberty to scream at the top of my lungs. With all the windows still open. I’m sure he’s thinking, who let the crazy out of the ward? And then, since I knew he had to wait for me to leave first, I proceeded to sit in my car on the side of Highway 101 and call Scott, my mom, Eva at Cheval whom I was supposed to be meeting um five minutes ago, anyone that needed to hear about the situation. Because heaven forbid he cite me for talking on my cell phone, too, while driving (though that law technically isn’t implemented until July 1). Plus, it was kinda fun just sitting there making him wait. As I would say to him in Swedish, jaevla bevar.

So if you ever see an officer with a badge reading DL HALL, of stoutly stature and an unfortunate face that looks as if he were once a pigeon that ran into an 18-wheeler’s windshield while hauling 100 on the Interstate — why else do *most* people become police officers? they’re overcompensating for something (and before the hate mail begins to roll in, I recognize that there is a very tiny, minuscule, so-small-you-can-hardly-see-it percentage of officers who join the force for the right reasons; unfortunately, Mr. Hall does not fall in that category) — paroling the streets of Monterey County, or even the bar scene, you have my permission to give him the stink eye and maybe even the bird. (I would say pour your beer on his head or send a flaming bag of poo to his house, but I don’t want to do anything that might prompt a warrant for my arrest, because this guy? King of all assholes, really. OK, OK, no one likes cops — or “peace officers” as the DMV likes to kid itself — but every one that ever pulled me over in Tennessee was actually quite kind and felt too guilty to ever give me a ticket, hence this being my second ever, the first after an unsympathetic old geezer in Alabama caught me off guard. This Mr. High-on-His-Horse Hall clearly was given one too many swirlies in high school, and thus poor innocent souls like myself must pay for his shortcomings many years later. Sure policework is a noble profession when DONE PROPERLY. Like Matt Parks on Heroes. But when you’re just trying to meet a daily quota and you tack on an extra SEVENTEEN MILES PER HOUR to a gal whose insurance just decreased significantly because the one ticket she ever had in her life finally fell off her record, you’re just an asshole. And I apologize for using profanities on this blog — I try to keep it as clean as possible, I am a Southern girl after all — but DL HALL = prickassholejerkfacemeaniehead.)

(Luckily, when I arrived at the charming Hotel Cheval and Pony Club in the too cute town of Paso Robles, the lovely people I was late to meet immediately made me forget my worries, and in fact, all had their own Mercury stories to contribute. While it still doesn’t make up for the fact that I’ll be appearing in court in Monterey once or twice this fall and forking over enough money in gas alone, who even knows how much oil will be up to by then — all ticket costs and traffic school aside — at the very least, the smile returned to my face. Thanks, lovely people of Paso Robles and your too cute town!)

Basically what it comes down to is I can’t afford you, Mercury in Retrograde. You’ve already cost me well over $1500, and I am but a struggling writer. And it’s not just me you’re harming, Merc. Friends have been assaulted with pepper spray and suffered Interminable Break Ups of Hell Fire and Doom. What did we
ever do to you, pray tell?

But today, you’re skipping town, and for that, I am grateful (though the bartender at Pony says I should lay low for two to three days following your departure). At least we don’t have to put up with you again until September 24. At which point, I will be fleeing the universe entirely.

Oh, and if anyone other than Mercury has any legal advice as to the most successful (and preferably, cheapest) way to contest a speeding ticket of mammoth proportions (of lies, ALL LIES!) in California, I’m all ears and eyes. I’ll even bake you a cake in exchange for your kindness. Or send you free Benefit Cosmetics products, whichever you choose (though if I were you, I’d opt for the make-up, as baking isn’t exactly my forte. Unless you’re a dude, in which case, that might be a little weird).


***If you’re wondering what language I’m speaking, you’re not the only one. I knew nothing of this concept until all of these mishaps began occurring, and my very San Fran friends (read: hippies and new-age thinkers) all kept throwing out this “Mercury (in) Retrograde” philosophy. Here’s what has to say on the topic:

The Mercury retrograde is perhaps best known of all retrogrades. This celestial body requires 88 days to make a complete pass around the Sun and remains stationary for anywhere between a few hours and a few days, depending on the time of year. This planet goes into retrograde three times a year for around three weeks each time. Mercury has the highest frequency of retrograde and stays in this position for the shortest length of time of any other planet.

Communication is Mercury’s main domain. Therefore, communication is greatly affected by this planet’s pull. During the period Mercury is in retrograde motion, individuals may find their message is better conveyed through another less familiar medium. Messages may be misunderstood; whispers may be overheard and mail or email may be misdirected. Those who are usually constrained by public speaking may have moments of clarity, while those giving a public address may be dramatically misquoted. This is a good time to explore new outlets of communication. Choose your words carefully.

Uh-oh, and I gave that interview to the Christian Science Monitor yesterday. I’m destined to be misquoted, it seems. Which wouldn’t be a first. Sometime for your amusement, I’ll post a recent Q&A with me published in a Knoxville magazine, which makes me appear to have trouble with subject/verb agreement and that ever-going struggle between “a” and “an” (funny, I thought I mastered both in the first grade).

  • June 19, 2008
    She Likes Purple

    I heard about the Mercury Retrograde this week, actually. You know he was just angry because you’re fun and cute and he looks like a flattened pigeon.

  • June 19, 2008

    Oh no! That is awful! I have had terrible experiences with police officers lording power over me, and I DON’T LIKE THEM. (Except for my friend’s husband John the Cop, whom I LOVE because he is Honorable.) I don’t have advice for how to contest, except just be honest, recount your conversation with the officer, and point out that ESTIMATION IS NOT A SCIENTIFIC METHOD OF DETERMINING SPEED OF AN OBJECT. The end.

  • June 19, 2008

    You’re in luck! Well, sorta…In California, cops technically have to show upto court when someone is contesting a ticket. 9/10 times they don’t show. And even when they do, it is almost ALWAYS reduced down. So, fear not, I am sure this will be a non-issue in the near future. I have heard all types of pathetic excuses for why people can’t pay, etc. and the judge is always eager to reduce just so he can get the person out of his court.

  • June 19, 2008

    Wow, great advice from cagequeen. It might come in handy the next time I get a ticket.

    Sorry to hear about your brush with THA LAW of Monterrey. Those guys can be huge jerks!! Best of luck contesting that ticket.

  • June 19, 2008
    Heather B.

    I actually believe in astrology (I know! SHAME) and mercury in retrograde has kicked my ass every which way but now that I am slightly better – kind of – I feel like next time I will be better prepared for its arrival. Either that or we can carpool as we flee the universe. It’s been a crappy, crappy month plus, I am so ready for this BS to be over.

  • June 20, 2008
    May Vanderbilt

    I have never heard of this Mercury thing, but then in my circles…

    I am SO impressed you gave that copper the what’s what. Contest it! For real!

  • June 21, 2008

    oh that sucks about the cop, i hope you do contest it!

  • June 22, 2008

    I have never heard of that Mercury Retrograde – but I bet it will be my new answer for everything.

    I bet the cop won’t show.

  • June 23, 2008

    In Memphis we had a friend who was a lawyer and he just took the ticket to court and had it dismissed. One time, he was able to have a friend’s ticket dismissed who was going 90+ in a 55. Maybe you can find a lawyer friend. But the thing is they have to practice in the area where you got your ticket.

  • June 24, 2008

    Good grief!! And I thought that my laptop situation was bad… This sheds a lot of light on recent events. I will be the first to usher Mercury Retrograde out the door.

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