Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Road Rules

The city of C-burg gave me a lovely welcome home present yesterday – my very first parking ticket. Although the city is nice enough to provide centrally located office space for my new business with cheap rent, there is no free parking around the building. When signing the lease for our office space in February, the New Yorker and I were concerned about this. However, I figured that it would not be a problem for me because I bike to work most of the time.

Yesterday, unfortunately, it rained for the first time in weeks, so I took Smarty to work. I shoved a Euro into the meter, and stuck the ticket in my window. An hour later, I was sitting in my office working away. I could not really be bothered to get up, and did not think 30 minutes would matter much. Well it did! The meter-maid posted the ticket 10 minutes after my time expired. I personally think she was scoping out my car.

The price for my illegal deed . . . 5 Euro. I just paid it on-line. The German laughed and laughed. However, I would like the entire world to know that as far as tickets go, this family currently stands at 2 to 1. The German got a speeding ticket in B-town while going to work, and a warning / speeding ticket in the U.S.

Picture if you will the dark South Carolina night (dude, seriously, it was like 10:30pm, so it was dark). October 2005. After a long flight from Amsterdam, the German and I arrived in the Atlanta airport. We were so anxious to make the 5 hour drive to mom’s house that we jumped in the rental and sped-off. The German drove away from the airport and said, “Which highway do you think it is?” “Got me!” So off we went. Only after 15 minutes did we realize that we were heading for downtown Atlanta and that we were surrounded by the craziest drivers on God’s green earth (I have been to Paris, Amsterdam, New York, and San Francisco, I do have some comparison material). The German yelled at me frantically, “Which way do I go!?”

“Sweetheart, I have no idea!”

“Where is the map?”

“In the trunk. Where you put it!”

As you can tell, it really only was a matter of time before one of us got a ticket. Several hours later, outside of Columbia, we were both getting a little tired. Suddenly I looked in the review mirror, and there were those blue lights flashing.

The German’s eyes got big. “What do I do?”

“Pull over.”

The German pulled over. The police woman walked up to the car.

“License and registration, please.”

I knew once she saw his German passport, license, and the rental car registration, that we would have to do some explaining.

“Where did you all come from?”

(I did all the talking) “We just flew into Atlanta and rented this car there. We are driving to visit my parents. He is my husband. He is German. I am American and from South Carolina.”

“Why do you live in Germany?”

Although question often irritates me, I thought it best to stay cool. “Because we like it there.” (Big smile from Claire)

“Can I see your license, Ms.?” I am not sure why she wanted mine. I mean I wasn’t driving.

At this point the German decided to pipe up. “What is wrong?”

“Sir, you were doing, 80.”

“No I wasn’t! The cruise control was set at 78!”

I snapped my head to look at the German. Through clench teeth I whispered, “Don’t argue with her!”

The officer went back to her car. She came back to us a few minutes later. She handed us all of our identification. “I will just give you a warning. Just be sure to slow down now.” Then she was off into the night, seeking out more law breakers. I looked down at the ticket and realized that the address was written all wrong. I started to chuckle, because I am quiet certain that the only reason we did not get a fine was because she could not read the German’s license.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can get of my parking ticket by saying that I cannot read German. Some how I think the people around here are on to my German speaking capabilities.


Andrew said...

They do that, you know. They scope out your car and wait. How they manage to do it for everyone simultaneously I'll never know, but I'm sure you called that one right! :o)

To Love, Honor and Dismay

The Big Finn said...

I once got caught by three speeding cameras in two days here in Basel. Two of the tickets were from the same camera, but going in opposite directions. I think I was doing something like 3 km/hour over the speed limit.
Gotta love that Swiss precision.

Mareike said...

C'mon Claire - Atlantonians are ok drivers! I have just returned from 3 weeks in China - this is where you should go if you ever want to have an understanding of what absence of roadrules feels like :)

Carrie said...

You gotta love cops! Ya'll should have just kept speaking in German and she would have given up eventually. And if you got arrested, I have a toll free number (1-877-321-1116), we accept collect calls from jail and we would have been there in a jiffy to bail you out. You are lucky she didn't arrest you guys, thinking you were terrorists. There's a lot of that going around right now and cops don't always think before they shoot. They just got 2 Egyptian students 5 miles from my house! Apparently they didn't show up for class.