By Morgan Caldwell, a sophomore journalism major from Prestonsburg. She is the Who’s That editor
You’ve been waiting forever for the light to be green. You want to turn left, which inevitably takes longer than if you wanted to do anything else, like go straight or turn right. Have you ever noticed how much you take the turn-right-on-red” thing for granted? Aren’t you ticked when they put up signs saying you can’t? I mean, I always think, “What makes this intersection different from all the others?” Is it just me?
Anyway, after spending what seems like years waiting for the light to change, hallelujah, the green arrow is lit. Of course, you’re also sitting behind some 90-year-old man in a Cadillac the size of a small semi. And he’s asleep at the wheel. That or it really does take him that long to register the fact that the gas pedal is now our friend.
So, by the time the geezer in the Cadillac makes up his mind to finally ooze through the intersection, the light flashes to yellow, and you’re still a couple of feet from the big white line at the end of the turning lane. Anyone who drives at all faces this dilemma 10 to 20 times a week. What do you do?
What any red blooded American would: you give her the gas.
I recently found myself in this familiar scenario, turning onto Man-O-War Blvd. in Lexington after a trip to the mall.
Without hesitation, I kicked it through the stoplight, congratulating myself because the thing had only turned red just as it flashed overhead and out of sight. I wasn’t really worried, because my front bumper was even with the back door of the car in the turning lane next to me. I felt no uneasiness, no hint of what was about to occur.
In fact, I didn’t think twice about it until the flashing red and blue lights materialized in my rear-view mirror. Knowing exactly who the cop was after, I was forced to go through the uncomfortable process of driving along for awhile with the police riding my rear end, since there really was no place to immediately pull over. In the end, I entered a side street and awaited my fate.
The cop was nice but inexorable, and my conscience was in hyper drive. Although it was the first time I had ever been pulled over, several brutally honest answers in a row seemed to be enough to warrant a ticket, if nothing else was.
The cop gave me my little piece of paper and left. I went halfway up the side street and made a u-turn.
As it turned out, I could either just pay the stupid ticket and get points on my license (a.k.a. have my insurance skyrocket) or, for about 15 dollars more, I could sit through traffic school and get no points on my license. This seemed logical to me. I opted for traffic school. I’d heard of several other people doing it.
Don’t ever go to traffic school.
It is the most boring four – yes, four – hours that I’ve ever spent in my young life. And you have to fill out an exorbitant amount of paperwork before they’ll even let you go.
If it was for something fun like, I don’t know, Disneyland, then that might be understandable. People would willingly follow a paper trail for a chance at that. But they’re kidding themselves if they honestly think people would compete over spots for traffic school.
My hour of retribution came one Thursday at 6 p.m. I pulled up to the county library and entering, chose a seat. I was still feeling pretty good about the whole thing. Then the first thing out of the teacher’s mouth was: “This is not a punishment.” By then I was getting a little uneasy. The first twinges of doubt assailed me.
Next, the man told us that if they catch you asleep, you fail and have to go through the whole thing again. It sounded ominous now.
My feelings were correct. I spent four hours watching some truly heinous videos about what you shouldn’t do while driving and that kind of thing. I felt glad that I’d sat near the back, because my eyelids were suspiciously heavy throughout the experience.
I learned absolutely nothing. Not one useful thing came out of traffic school, except that you can’t drive drunk on your own private property.
The man also told us on the video that you should never drive sleepy. I guess that’s why he bored us to tears for four hours before sending us out to drive ourselves home at ten o’clock at night. Makes perfect sense to me.
By the time I was released, I was fully convinced that it would have been worth the extra insurance money rather than having to sit through traffic school. At that exact moment, I would have paid in blood.
I got back in my car, and briefly struggled against the urge to screech off. Failing utterly, I exited the library parking lot in a spray of gravel and with my radio turned up.
So, if you ever consider going to traffic school instead of paying for a ticket, remember my experience. I leave you with one thought: