City Paper is not for tourists
“This stretch of highway is frequented by state troopers eager to reward travel at illegal speeds with speeding tickets,” my bandmate declared. We were traveling on I-85 south between Petersburg, Virginia, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I was behind the wheel.
“Indeed,” I replied. “Once, I got a speeding ticket on this very stretch of highway. The officer who pulled me over informed me that, in North Carolina, one cannot simply admit to a moving violation and pay a fine via mail or Internet. Instead, one must appear in a North Carolina court or pay a lawyer to appear in one’s stead.”
“How, then, did you dispense with your speeding ticket?” my bandmate inquired.
“I was forced to hire a North Carolina attorney,” I confided. “At a cost of $300.”
“Unbelievable!” my bandmate exclaimed. We swapped stories of the numerous speeding tickets we had received and/or dodged through clever ingratiation. Then, we began to discuss car accidents—-what car accidents we had witnessed, what car accidents we had escaped, and what car accidents we had caused.
“In July of 1994,” I explained, “I went on a cross-country trip. A friend was driving my Chevy Celebrity station wagon I-10 West in Florida near Tallahassee when he rear-ended another vehicle. This vehicle, in turn, rear-ended the vehicle in front of it, causing a chain reaction of car crashes which resulted in my car insurance rates being hiked. In addition, we had to wait for three days in Lake City, Florida, while the car was repaired. To kill time, we saw Speed, a popular film then in theatrical release starring Keanu Reeves and an unknown actress named Sandra Bullock.”
“Where is Lake City?” my friend queried.
“It’s not important,” I replied, “but Ted Bundy murdered his last victim there.” As soon as the name of this infamous serial killer spilled from my lips, I realized that a North Carolina state trooper had pulled up behind me and turned on his siren. In the name the law, I pulled over to the side of the highway. The state trooper exited his squad car and approached.
“Is there a reason that you were speeding, sir?” the trooper inquired.
“Was I speeding?” I parried, affecting an air of nonchalance.
“Yes,” the officer replied. “You were going 80 miles an hour. The speed limit is 65.”
“Oh,” I murmured. The officer retreated to his car, wrote my ticket, and returned. “You can pay this fine via Internet or phone,” he informed me.
“Really?” I queried, “When I receive tickets in North Carolina, I am accustomed to appearing in a court of law or hiring a representative to appear in my stead.”
“No,” the officer replied. “You need not appear in court.
“Ah,” I said. “North Carolina must have changed the rules.” The officer shrugged and retreated to his vehicle. Once he was out of sight, I threw the ticket in the backseat and turned to my bandmate.
“Sixty in an 85,” I bragged. “Really, that’s nothing.”