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Pobst Position: National Motorists Association
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Pobst Position: National Motorists Association
I'm a lousy passenger, I admit it. If we get passed on the right, it drives me crazy, keep right. If we slow down and get repassed, it eats at me, hold a steady speed. Maybe it's from writing these columns, but I always want to correct improper driving techniques. Maybe I have a messiah complex. This was one of those nights. The rental minivan had a rather touchy throttle, too; you know how GM gears them to open really fast at first to create the impression of more power? I prefer a slow opening throttle, but that does not sell well on a test drive, ask any old Mercedes owner. This is actually a great speed secret for powerful race cars. You will be amazed how much better your car handles with a slower opening throttle.

So that's how I end up driving south to a hotel near the LA airport. It's late, it's dark, we're hungry, and traffic's jammed, like always in LA. I go for the HOV lane, and begin picking up positions like crazy. Now, I do not know LA well, but do I begin to realize we're getting close to the airport, and the address on the GPS is not showing up on the exit signs. Soon, I see Century Boulevard, and I recognize that as the exit to the airport, and no doubt our hotel, but... I'm in the HOV lane. Well, I am not gonna drive right by my exit into the dark unknown depths of LA and get dragged out of my car and beaten like I saw on those riot videos. I even joke with my mates, "Uh, oh, gotta cross the white line, oh no! Ha,ha." In the exit lane, the blue flashing lights fill my mirror. Busted. Man, you been there, eh, SCCA'ers?

"Turn right at the light," I hear the cop say on his loudspeaker. Okay, okay, yes sir. Gee, I hope he doesn't write me a ticket. Isn't that what runs through our minds at times like these? I nervously hang a right onto a surface street with no shoulder, flashing lights in tow. "Mrphhh, brrrrt snrrp nbluuurrndrof", says Mr Microphone. Excuse me? I panic, and pull safely into the first small parking lot. Pull out the license, hands on wheel, window down, interior light on, I know the drill. "I told you to pull to the curb" the young-ish officer says gruffly. He looks a little like Chip Herr. Uh, oh. "Sorry, sir, I couldn't hear you," I say meekly. "Listen more closely next time," he retorts, snidely. Now hold on just a dog-gone minute! I'm a nice guy and a lost, nervous and apprehensive tourist, and you are mean and rude to me right from the get-go? How 'bout a little common courtesy, Officer Garnero? He has no sympathy for my we're-not-from-around-here story, nor for my request to know how much the fine is. "Call that number." Same caustic tone.

The ticket, you've seen 'em, is a fuzzy yellow carbon copy of hand-written scribbles and fine print. Ooooh, I hate tickets, and I wasn't even speeding! I call the number. I'd like to know how much the fine is, and I'd like to try my lost-tourist defense on a judge. Several calls and levendy-leven phone menu options later, I'm told it's a 53 minute wait to talk to a person. I cannot find out what the fine is until I pay it, as far as I can tell. There is a written defense option, which I like, and I'd like to do. I work on figuring all that out, and manage to misread dimly scrawled due date. Great, now I'm late. Hope I don't lose my license. Okay, I give up, you got me, I'll pay! Don't shoot! I wade through the menus, punch in the card number, and only then do I get to know what it costs me. Six-hundred and fifty -two dollars! American! Does that strike you as a little much? 'Cause, it sure does me. No wonder the surly cop would not tell me. An outrageous three-hundred fifty for crossing the line, and an absurd three hundred more for being a few days late. Why do we put up with such things?

Well, guess what, you do not have to. The USA is still a democracy. Fines like this are about revenue. Taxation without representation. What can you do? Join the National Motorists Association (NMA)
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