Sunday, January 8, 2012

Community Service

What is the difference between Lindsay Lohan and me? She is young, rich and famous and I am old, miserly and unknown. Another difference between us is that she stole an expensive necklace and got arrested for it, and I did not. But I did make a righthand turn at a red light, and was captured on video tape doing so. I don't know if Ms. Lohan has ever done this, but most of Los Angeles has, or else we'd all be sitting at a dead standstill.

So what is the same about Lindsay Lohan and me? We've both been sentenced to Community Service. Another difference: She is fulfilling her Community Service by working as a janitor at a morgue, while I am carrying out my Community Service by volunteering at a youth center in Echo Park. I'd rather do my Community Service over hers, so I totally trump her there.

Almost two years ago, way back in March of 2010, I made a rolling righthand turn at an intersection where the light had turned red 1/10th of a second too late. In other words, I did not come to an absolute, complete stop at the red light before preceding to the right. I know for a fact that I looked both ways before I did this because I always make sure I carefully look both ways before turning right ever since that time I hit a pregnant woman, but that is another story... The unfortunate part of this whole thing is that I was photographed while not coming to a complete stop, and a few weeks later I received a red light camera ticket for $446! Which seemed to both Sparky and I to be an inexcusably exorbitant amount of money. So I called the number and protested, and they gave me an extension plus a court date - a victorious 15 months later. They told me about the appointment - and I really did write it down, but I somehow lost it, and then forgot all about it. So when I didn't pay the fine or show up in person to contest it, I was sent a rather nasty bill from collections. When I called to explain how I lost the original date (they really should give you a reminder notice or phone call for fuck sake) they gave me another extension, which was eight months in the future. This time I vowed to not forget.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times printed a couple of interesting news story, first "L.A. Traffic Cameras May Get the Red Light", and then a month later "L.A. City Council Shuts Down Red-light Cameras". Which gave me hope of not having to pay the ginormous fine. But then I started doing research on-line, and found a rumor that stated that the city was going after all unpaid fines in order to recoup their losses. So that meant I would have to go to court and talk to The Judge. I firmly believed that I would be able to get out of it ... because how could they get money out of a Miser like me?

All of which led to standing in a very long line on my appointed court date to finally see The Judge. I then had to sit through a lot of other either guilty and/or not guilty people who had all committed/not committed various traffic violations. After a very long wait it was my turn, and I decided to plead No Contest just to get the goddamn thing over with. The Judge was very nice, I explained my situation to her, protesting the fact that the red light program was no longer in effect. She was very sympathetic and told me that I could do Community Service instead of paying that ridiculous fine. Hurrah! How bad could that be? I figured I would work a day or so doing something like clerical work and be done with it. But that wasn't the case. Instead, I had to stand in another very long line with all of the other poor saps who were also sentenced to Community Service. And when it was finally my turn, I found out that I would be forced to fulfill fifty four hours of Community Service. Which is the equivalent of being paid $8.26 an hour for over a week's worth of labor. Which is 26 cents above the minimum wage in the great state of California. (Now who could live off of such a miserly wage? Not this Miser.)

I've since had to go back and stand in more lines in order to obtain my assignment, which is at the Echo Park Youth Center. I haven't started yet but I don't think it will be very hard completing my Community Service hours there. In fact, I'm actually looking forward to it! I'm going into this whole thing with a positive attitude for once, and I'm thinking that if I like it I may just volunteer there on a regular basis (and not just because I'm being punished for making a rolling righthand turn against a red light). At least I don't have to go to traffic school. Or pick up trash on the side of the freeway wearing an orange jump suit. Plus I got out of paying $446 bucks. So I'm thinking that this may just be a win-win situation after all because it beats working as a janitor at the county morgue like Lindsay Lohan.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year's Resolution

I have a very simple resolution for 2012, and even though I keep forgetting about it I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to stick to this one for life. My resolution isn't really so much as a resolution as it is just a new way of doing something. But I think that if I can do this one small thing, then I may just become a whole new and better person. Because I sometimes think that if you can successfully change one small thing about yourself, then you can also change the bigger things about yourself that you don't like. It's a start. Anyway, I have learned a brand new way of tying my shoes, and I resolve to tie them in this completely different fashion from now on. It's called the Ian Knot, and it is considered to be the world's fastest shoelace knot. And thanks to this knot your laces will last longer because there is less wear and tear on them. Also, you will save approximately 3.25 minutes over your lifetime. That means that you will have an extra 3 and one quarter minutes of your life to spend on doing other things besides wasting them tying your shoes! But the problem I've been having is that I keep forgetting to tie my shoes in this manner, and I end up tying them the same old way I've been doing since I was five, which is the Standard Shoelace Knot. I've been using the Standard Shoelace Knot for over forty years so it's hard to remember to use the Ian Knot. What I end up doing is tying my shoes the old way and then remembering that I want to tie them the new way, so I untie them and then retie them the new way. So I am adding more stress to my shoelaces plus wasting 3 and one quarter minutes of my life that could be spent on something besides tying shoes. Whatever. So that is my resolution for 2012. And it should be noted that I seem to be the only person I know of who has a New Year's Resolution. I wonder why that is?