I’ve always been a strong advocate for law and order. In this regard, I’ve always been supportive of our law enforcement officers — men and women who put their lives on the line daily to keep us safe and secure. Accordingly, I always tried to instill this respect for the law in my children, as well. Despite having used up most of my allotted three score and ten, I have never been arrested, handcuffed, nor placed in jail. In well over 50 years of driving, I have had only two or three minor traffic tickets, the last of which was almost 30 years ago. Sadly, last week, a lot of this changed.
Returning home across the great Metro-Mess to the east after a long and arduous day at the Dallas Veterans Hospital, I was traveling along IH-20 through Fort Worth when I noticed a motorcycle patrolman parked facing oncoming traffic next to the concrete center divider. He was holding a radar gun pointed at motorists. As I passed him, I thought to myself, “What a dangerous and thankless job.” Yet, I had to admit, someone has to do it. It is somewhat like packing a rifle in Iraq, making a close air support bombing run, or flying 200 feet off the waters of a turbulent North Sea tracking a Russian nuclear submarine.
I felt no uneasiness because of his presence, because I was merely proceeding along in bumper-to-bumper traffic — going with the flow. There were cars in front of me and cars behind me all going about the same speed. There were 18-wheelers everywhere. I thought nothing about it until a couple of minutes down the road, a second officer standing next to his patrol car motioned me over. In the moments to follow, I have never witnessed such a cold, calculated process of law enforcement/revenue collection. The speed I was driving was not a surprise, but the fact a short construction zone had lowered the speed limit to 50 mph was a surprise to me. I was probably behind or next to several 18-wheelers that obscured my vision of the posted speed limit. The most puzzling aspect of this entire scenario was, however, why me? What made me stick out in this giant sized “ant trail” winding its way through town?
I have seen several articles in the paper and stories on the news about how municipalities are being faced with significant revenue shortfalls due to the sour economy. In response, they have had to switch to alternative methods to generate funding. Speed trap towns have long been a bone of contention, even prompting the state legislature to pass a law which requires most of the fines collected by small towns to be sent to Austin. This would serve to eliminate the incentive of issuing such tickets. It didn’t work. They merely issue more tickets.
As for my dilemma, I guess I’ll merely pay the piper. As for why I was singled out to get the ticket instead of one of my fellow commuters, it has to be because of my bright red pickup. My last ticket in 1982 happened while driving a bright red Datsun. Must have the same effect as waving a red cape at a mad bull.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy Commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.