I got popped for speeding. I paid my fine online swiftly, felt like ripping a band aid off a furry spot, or even an energetic bikini wax, to ameliorate the pain of supporting Brevard County’s latest public works project. There goes all those quarters and nickels and Canadian dimes I saved up for a new reclining chair and the co-payment on the colonoscopy I am supposed to have as a freakishly undignified reminder that my last birthday makes me old… Whatever.
Now the “points” problem. It's going to take me 4 hours to complete this Florida Driver Safety Course online. I thought when I tuned into the Course, well hell, I can just skim this stuff, take the module quizzes and be done with it in no time. But no. Those wily imps, the Safety Course people, have affixed a timer, an infernal speed bump, to each module so that you cannot skim, skip ahead and just merrily guess your way to completion in a fraction of the time like I did in college. No Way. You've been a bad bad girl! Time out!
From the Course: "The operation of a motor vehicle takes a clear and focused mind, uncluttered by thoughts of aggravation and distress..."
Well, Officer Krupke, try this on for size -
"Mom! We’re LATE! Coach's going to make me do pushups. One for every minute we’re late! And laps too. Everyone will yell at me for being late. I'll sit the bench first half. Then I’ll pull a muscle from not being warmed up…”
“My socks are dirty looking, did you wash them? My hair is awful. A-W-E --- - no how do you spell awful? OMG I can't find my cleats, we got to stop at the Sports Authority and buy some...”
“It is your responsibility to keep track of...WTF? You’re playing in your bare feet I don’t care now"
“Can't you drive any faster? God, you drive like an old lady!"
The Safety Course Voice: Must you always be right? (YES) Do other people upset you, particularly when they don't do things your way? (YES INDEEDY THEY DO!) Try cooperation instead of confrontation; it's better than fighting and always being "right"." (MAKE ME!)
At this point the Safety Course Voice begins speaking to me in a just-put-the-weapon-down-and-come-on-out-of-there-with-your-hands-up voice:
“Good drivers have a quiet level of efficiency in their actions. What do you do when emotional distress has taken over?
1. Take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds and then let it out. (Done) Go for a walk. (Can't. Got to roll. We are now officially really late.) Do anything non-violent. (Check! Chewing soda straw to smithereens.) Do not get in your motor vehicle and drive angry. (Whoops! Too late!)
2. Try to displace yourself from what it is that is upsetting you. (But she’s right there---> Can’t you see her there in the passenger seat?) Take a time out and go sit in your room. (Going to my happy place....Connecting in Atlanta.)
3. Take a moment and recognize your anger for what it is, some hurt, real or imagined. (Huh? Can’t hear you because of the blood rushing through my ears.)”
Exhaustion can manifest itself in your life in such things as:
_both a and b
_neither a or b”
This is when I spontaneously consider this: “At what Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) are you considered impaired?” Sports Authority is next to the ABC store. Then I punch in all the data into the mental calculator and decide the beer goggles are not worth it.
Hey look! The Safety Voice has calculated it all out like I did:
“Towing - $150
Lawyer - $3500
Fine - $250 to $500
DUI School - $190 to $285
Insurance - $1500
Lost Wages - $1000
Court Costs - $450
Substance Abuse Evaluation - $75
Treatment - $400
License Reinstatement - $155
Cost Recovery - $350
That "one" 5 oz. glass of Pinot Grigio costs you in the neighborhood of $8000.”
Check. No green light for the coping liquids. Only at home when the keys are missing.
“I LOVE these.”
“Get them; just get themmmmm (my devil voice in lowest octave) GGEETTT THEMMMMMMMMM!”
“Mom you're scaring me.”
Deep breath, charge card, and the birds are released, cue the balloons and angels sing.
11 minutes more to go on this Florida Safety Course module. So carrying on…
Back in the vehicle we call Ursula, we peel out and step on it to make time. Ursula bleats at us incessantly until the seat belts are clicked. Ursula says; “Oh hell no! None of your faces are going to come to a splattering stop on my pretty windshield! Put those belts on, my bitches!”
Still we were 20 minutes away and going to be late by as much. So it's Sunday, everyone safely tucked away in church except we heathen soccer pagans, no one on the road, and I put the pedal down on a straightaway leading to the soccer fields.
She says, I shit you not: "Wow Mom you are driving much faster in this car than the last one!"
“Yeah well it was falling apart. I was trying to baby it into living longer. Remember it tried to kill us in Port Charlotte by not letting me release cruise control at 70 mph? It croaked anyway. Put your damn shoes on."
Safety Course Voice, where the hell were you at this juncture. Sitting somewhere sipping tea after church pursing your lips and waving a naughty, naughty finger in my direction. I got another finger gesture in mind right now.
"One should avoid dangerous driving situations (excessive speed, running red lights or stop signs, etc.)"
I could have USED that information right then.
"If the vehicles are the same weight, the vehicle with the higher speed will have the greater force of impact. If one vehicle is going 20 mph and the other is going 60 mph, the one going 60 mph has nine times the force at impact than the one going 20 mph. This is a squared relationship. Three times the speed will have nine times the force of impact (32). Four times the speed will have sixteen times the force of impact (42). Five times the speed will have twenty five times the force of impact (52), and so on."
They told me there would BE no Math, not wired for it in any way at all, but holy hell! If this Safety Course has done anything for me that last piece of demonic natural was it.
"The belted-in occupants count their lucky stars and continue on with their lives. The unbelted occupants are carted off to the hospital or morgue for an extended stay; some longer than others."
You try it:
If one vehicle is going 20 mph and another is going 60 mph, the one going 60 mph has ______ times the force at impact as the one going 20 mph.
_Oh God Help Me Sweet Mother of Quantum Physics!
“I see the field lights, we're almost there. Maybe Coach will forgive us the pushups or laps or whatever.”
“Well YOU don't have to do them Mom, I do, so hurry.”
“I see lots of cars up ahead, it's right there on the right, we’re ALMOST there..."
"Oh I’ll pull over so he can get to where he's going"
"He's where he's going Mom"
"Am I getting popped?"
Stopping. Turning car off.
"Eh, yeah Mom you are. See ya!"
She scampered like a happy bunny off to the relative safety of her team where I found out later, they wondered aloud whether I'd flash the cop to avoid the ticket.
Safety Course Voice, a fey cavorting guardian angel right by my side, reminds me in a prissy lisping I-told-you-so tone: “Everyday driving is hours and hours of the same thing, followed by a few moments of terror. Imagine running as fast as you can into a wall. You'd expect to get pretty banged up. Do you think you could stop yourself if the wall suddenly popped up when you were two feet away from it?"
“Hello Officer. What can I do for you today?”
“License and registration please...”