Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday Grab Bag: Oscar the Grouch and a Rant of My Own

1. What with it being Sesame Street's 40's anniversary, Google has been displaying a different Sesame Street character or grouping every day for about the past week: Big Bird, The Count, Cookie Monster, and of course, Oscar the Grouch. This weekend I did a lot of procrastinating by means of YouTube, rewatching some of the old Sesame Street songs and such. I'm not old enough to remember the first episodes (Sesame Street was already just shy of seven by the time I come along), but even so....

This was one of my favorites when I was little, which probably says...something. And I wasn't sure how to take the fact that I could *still* sing along with all the lyrics. Is this *really* a good thing for young minds? ;-) Fun, though.

2. I didn't write much yesterday because I was too ticked off. I live a short distance from an Interstate exit that has been the bane of my existence ever since I've lived here. I've mentioned my driving phobias...well, this thing ranks near the top of my list, scaring me daily. It's one lane, with no traffic light at the end, and there's a HUGE truck stop to the left, which means we get numerous big rigs wanting to go in that direction, which backs the traffic up clear to the interstate and beyond. As a fix, everyone forms two lanes--one right, one left, with *both* sides actually partially on the shoulder--the shoulders are nice and wide. It's been that way ever since I've been here. If you aren't from around here or don't follow that unwritten rule, you get honked at. If you're timid about driving partially on the shoulder, you get yelled at or honked at. If you get into the left lane, which is *slightly* more in the main roadway than the right, and then try to turn right when you finally get up to the end, you're apt to cause an accident. It's just a nightmare, but for the most part, it works. On at least a few occasions I've been on that ramp when police officers were also getting off, also following the unwritten rule of the two lanes.

Soooo last night I get off the interstate and do exactly what I do every single flippin' night, and get pulled over by a state patrol guy who just chews me out before I can really say much, saying that driving on the shoulder is a big bad no-no (actually back home you can pass on the right if you're still on the pavement...) that I should know better, that I could have hurt one of the homeless people who live in the parking area nearby and sometimes wander onto the ramp in the dark, that it doesn't matter that hundreds of cars do that every single day, that's no excuse. Meanwhile, the whole time we're sitting there as he slowly, slowly handwrites the ticket, car after car after car after car is coming down that right "lane" or driving on the shoulder on the left.

I've only ever gotten one other ticket in my life, and that was for not noticing I'd gone from a 70mph zone to a 60mph zone early on a Sunday morning with no other drivers on the road. I'm beyond ticked off that this could go on my record, and I basically can't even *drive* that ramp without doing exactly as I did, so apparently I have to find a back way home or risk getting another $100-plus ticket. I'm also going to go to court with it, I guess, which may or may not accomplish anything but letting me have my say. Considering that I don't *do* public speaking, I'll probably get up there and shake and not be able to say a word, but...maybe the unfairness of it all will loosen my tongue.

Did I mention that all the while this exit has been a problem for *years*, there are now *THREE* traffic circles on the back way, even at intersections where there wasn't much of a problem? So to avoid this exit, I get to drive through at least two of the three. But it's apparently what I have to do to avoid breaking the law, just like every other person taking that exit.


3. Due to the above, I'm still at less than 16k words for NaNoWriMo. I'm kind of hoping to make 18k today. We'll see. I should try to work my rant into my story. Lot of word potential there, and it'd be cathartic.


Anne said...

When I was little I had a pet duckling named "Oscar the Grouch". He's my favorite! But, I try not to be like him. It's hard.

I feel your pain about getting pulled over, it's happened to me far too many times. I don't have a very good reputation as a driver. Always something to work on, isn't there?

Little Flower Petals said...

But see, that's exactly it: there's nothing to work on in this case. It's not like a speeding ticket where I can repent and do otherwise. I cannot drive that exit without breaking the law by driving on the shoulder (like several hundred other drivers every single day), getting yelled at or worse, or causing an accident, or several of the above. It's an impossible situation.

Which is why it's so unfair to be ticketed for taking the lesser of the evils. I'd be far less upset if it was something where I could fix a behavior of mine. That isn't the case here. Unless they add a traffic light or at the very least divide that ramp into right and left lanes (and there's plenty of room to do so), they could sit there every day passing out tickets to every single person who gets off between four and six-thirty every night. Because we're all "breaking the law". Every one of us.

The only possible solution is to drive well out of my way by taking a different exit, which I guess I'll do for now, but come winter when that's by far the easiest way to come in icy conditions, I don't know what to do. Hope they've moved on to actual crime, I guess.

deek said...

Don't chicken out and make sure you go to court. Tell the judge that you are not trying to get out of the ticket and let your voice be heard. Especially in this case, where there's nothing you can really do to avoid doing exactly what you've done.

Take a few pictures as well...if you know how, try a video showing how everyone else follows the same rules. Not in order to get out of paying a ticket, but to make a difference...

I've been pulled over several times, all for speeding, and while it sounds like an excuse, all but one have been due to following the natural flow of traffic and I was the lucky one to get singled out. I've wanted to contest them, but a speed limit is black and white...

You're in a different situation, so get heard.

Little Flower Petals said...

I wish it wasn't so dark that time of day--it's going to make it hard to get pictures. But I discussed with a couple neighbors last night who were as outraged as I was, and at least one of them wants to shoot some pictures/video and go with me when I go to court with this. I mean...it's shooting fish in a barrel or deer-baiting, pulling people over there. It's ridiculous. And if everyone formed a single lane right smack-dab in the middle, you'd have accidents. If that shoulder is ever closed--say by a busted down truck--it causes all kinds of trouble. Permanently setting it off-limits would basically make the ramp unusable.

The one thing against me is that at the time I got off *last night*, there was a lull in traffic, so instead of being in a long lane of right-hand-turners like I normally would have been, I drove straight down an open "lane". But that's not typical. And he actually said, "well, it wasn't backed up all the way to the interstate..." as if that would have made driving on the shoulder OK. If it *does* make it OK, where do you draw the line? There were maybe a dozen cars as it was. What would have been far enough? Three quarters of the way back? Nine-tenths? Should we put up a sign, or do we have to guess, and heaven help us if we misjudge your invisible line beyond which we can bend the rules?

I'm still getting shaky every time I think about it.

Strikethru said...

I can totally see being furious about that situation. Arg!! You have my sympathies. I routinely rage about impractical/dangerous routes that need various fixes, while ghost town backwater intersections get elaborate lights, new lanes, and other inexplicable, unneeded upgrades. Are other states like this? Darn you, WA!!!

Write down a succinct speech about this, and just read it out loud in court.

Or, throw a typewriter at the judge. (Wait, maybe the second part is bad advice).