27 February 2008

My Brush with the Law

So, I'm a law abiding citizen. I pay my taxes. I rarely give the finger. I don't spit. I'm an Eagle Scout. I helped a lady in a wheel chair get a six pack from the liquor store freezer room that wasn't so accessible. I give motorcycles a bunch of room to breath in traffic, and I break for kittens. I'm not such a bad guy, not Mother Theresa, yet, I broke the law and made a criminal violation.

Was it speeding? Public belligerence? Excessive excelleration? Crack cocaine possession? Bad breath? No my friends it is much much worse. I will always remember the moment the awful truth shook my reeling brain, I, Tom Baumgartner, was a J-Walker.

It seemed innocent enough. I looked both ways at the corner. 4-5 blocks in the oncoming direction there were no cars. I looked up at the flashing red hand meaning, "don't walk," looked back up at the empty street and thought, ok, time for me to walk, no traffic to worry about. My fatal error had been cast. I had not heeded the warning. Not only had I made that plumment off of the curb into a legally busy street, I had also unwittingly written my own small death warrant according to my out of no-where attending motorcycle officer who was only there to protect me from being "smooshed." Yes, his actual words.

The officer scanned my drivers license with some kind of blackberry thing and before I knew it he was printing me out a ticket from his behind-the-seat wireless printer. Unsure of the actual price of the fine due to its obscureness, he instructed me to do some "footwork" to find out what I actually owed the city for my infraction. After some research, I found that crossing the street would cost me $88. A small cost in comparison to most traffic fines. Interestingly, I also found out, if you hit and run resulting in death and are caught, the fine is $400. 4.5 times worse than J-Walking. That means KILLING someone with your car and driving away. Don't do that, it'll cost you plenty.

Pedestrians beware, you are probably breaking the law. Be kind, re-wind, and never, ever cross the street against the traffic light. Apparently, it's against the law. And no spitting please. This isn't Russia.

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