…and I got pulled over for it.
I know what you’re thinking. Actually, I don’t, but go with me here! How the Hell did I get pulled over? Easy – I made an improper turn onto a very busy, and poorly constructed, street. Did I get a ticket? You bet your sweet ass I did. The real question is, what did I get a ticket for? The answer is the biggest bonehead move you’ve ever seen.
1. I had the wrong insurance in my car. I didn’t check the dates, so I mixed up my out-of-date and current insurance papers up. Oops.
2. I failed to renew my car’s registration…for three months. I forgot I had to do that. Now I have to pay the penalty.
Are these offenses a big deal? Depends on the situation. If I had gotten into a wreck, yes. But I didn’t. I am insured. I’ll (hopefully) get that part written off. The registration, I’ve been assured, is a common thing, so I’m not too concerned.
Why am I posting this, then? For self shaming? No. I’m posting this because, inevitably, some poor VISTA is going to get a ticket and owe money they might not have. So here I am, after my first ticket, trying to give advice. So, here I go!
1. If you think you might get a ticket…
Remember your manners. Being polite costs you nothing. These officers have a hard enough job already, so don’t make it worse. Who knows, if you’re polite, you might get a verbal instead of a ticket that you, I, and the federal government knows you can’t afford.
2. Say thank you.
Even if it’s just to see their shocked faces. I told the officer who pulled me over that I was grateful that he did it, because I sincerely am. He’s doing the job I paid him for, and he’s watching out for my well-being by reminding me that these things need to be taken care of. Of course I appreciate that! He probably hasn’t heard that enough, sadly.
3. Show up.
If you have a court date (like I do) SHOW THE FUCK UP. Don’t forget. Don’t. I’ve seen what happens to people when they don’t take care of a ticket.
4. If you have to pay fines…
Be resourceful. We’re VISTAs, we are resourceful by nature and necessity. Ask for a payment plan, some places will accommodate you. Ask around for odd jobs to make your payments. We both know that touching your saving account, which is now (thanks to our stipend) an emergency account (for now – not so come January!) isn’t an option. So, figure it out. You can do it. Skim off the fat in your lean budget. That coffee I get on Sundays? Gone. If you break the rules, you make the necessary sacrifices. Think of it like being grounded. Sucks, but you need to do it.
Remember, prevention (as with most things) is key. Drive the speed limit, no one will fault you for being a few minutes late because of traffic. They may not be so forgiving if you’re 30 minutes late because you got pulled over for speeding. In fact, while we’re on the subject, why don’t you just leave 10 minutes early to avoid rushing to begin with! My favorite band instructor always told us that in life if you’re 5 minutes early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late, you’re fired! Live that motto. Respect time. Remember to check your dates! They’re important! It’s easier to pay $25 for a registration renewal than it will be to pay for it alongside a ticket. And the math on insurance? I couldn’t exactly get the numbers, but I know that it is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper to renew a policy than to go uninsured, especially if you, I don’t know, get into an accident! Be smart. Embrace your inner safe driver. It’s cheaper in the short and long run.