Laurie Notaro Gets a Speeding Ticket (in her Prius) and Writes an Open Letter to the Municipal County Clerk

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Laurie Notaro is an author, crafter, and expert at finding a good cocktail. She grew up in Phoenix, but is currently based in Eugene, Oregon. Each week, she'll be joining us to share a crafting adventure, draw a flowchart, or remember a few of her favorite things about Phoenix. Today, she tells the story of her recent speeding ticket and writes a list of reasons why she's upset with the county clerk.

Dear Municipal County Clerk;

Let me start by saying I am sure you don't have an easy job. I suppose that's apparent by the fact that you have to sit behind shatterproof glass, which says to me that you have your share of irate customers on a daily basis, and you probably see crazier things and touched dirtier objects than the girl who works the return counter at Wal-Mart.

However, just because you deal with people paying their fines and court fees as a result of lawlessness does not mean you can jump to conclusions about any general lawbreaking citizen.

Lawbreaking is a spectrum, you know, with all sorts of colors in between. NOT EVERY COLOR IS AN ORANGE JUMPSUIT. So when you looked at my citation with a clearly disparaging look and said, "Whoa!" I feel I have no other recourse but to take issue with that. I object, sir, for a variety of reasons:

1. Reserve your disdain, sir, for those who actually take the law into their own hands and who were not really speeding but, more accurately, going downhill and submitting to the forces of physics. I didn't invent physics, I didn't vote for physics, I don't even understand physics. I was simply going downhill on a road THIS CITY MADE, and I can hardly be held responsible for the grade it deemed appropriate, thus creating a perfect physics-fed speed trap that I believe was solely created as a money-making venture for the city like a police-staffed lemonade stand.

2. Doing 43 miles her hour in a 35 miles per hour zone is not breaking the sound a barrier, m' lord. It's not like I was all gassed up and making my way to Mars in a Prius that in certain moments, gets 99 MPG. NINETY-NINE MILES PER GALLON sometimes, even if it's just for a fraction of a second. If that doesn't demonstrate how seriously I take my responsibility to humanity, including people overseas who I do not understand when they call me to tell me my credit card payment is late, then frankly, I don't know what does. I had a V-6 Camry before I decided to provide a future for children I don't even have, so it's clear that I traded speed and power for a car that everyone who volunteers for Habitat For Humanity drives, and even some Doctors Who Don't Have Borders.

3. I was not drunk. Nor was I cited for that, but I could see the look of speculation that crossed your face when you saw my speed of eight miles above the posted limit. "What sort of madwoman is this?", it said. Stand down, sir. Stand down. I will have you know that for most of the summer, we have had our teenage nephew staying with us and whenever I got a little too happy at breakfast, lunch or dinner, all I had to do was toss him the keys and my chances of walking the line dropped dramatically. Sure, sure, it was my plan to wait a week before I drank "magic grape juice" in front of the Mormon side of the family, but happy hour is happy hour and if there's a $3 glass of chilled rose calling my name on a summer afternoon, you can hardly expect me to ignore that sort of value. Alcohol rarely goes on sale. But I can usually find it when it does.

4. Yes, it's true that I did not have my proof of insurance with me at the time of the bust, but that was only because State Farm sends me a letter every other day describing what horrors and lawsuits could befall my household, and I simply cannot live in a world of fear like that. That is too much stimuli, and I can't keep worrying about wiping spilled orange juice off my floor every time I leave my house in case a crack head breaks in, slips in the kitchen and hurts himself. Or if a hobo sidles into my backyard, goes to take a poop in my vegetable bed, a rusty trellis scrapes his ass and he needs a tetanus shot. Straight into the shredder the anxious State Farm envelopes go, so I can't keep track of when the new cards come! I had more expired State Farm cards in my wallet than I did receipts from Cinnabon, and that became clear when I scraped a little bit of paint off car while I was trying to parallel park last week. Normally, I am an excellent parallel parker, but there was a man standing next to my car who was watching at me intently (yes, I would use the word staring. He was staring) and it threw my concentration entirely off until he yelled at me, "Hey! You just hit my car!," which really derailed any sort of focus I had left.

5. LOOK AT ME. Really. LOOK AT ME. I was the only one in the entire court, including some of your co-workers, who did not have a neck or facial tattoo. And I was not wearing a tank top and flip flops. I was wearing a full slip and a body shaper, for your information, proof that I was the only one in that entire building who was adhering to the full rules of society!

I even had lip liner on, how many times have you seen that in a mug shot, unless it's one of a tranny or someone who just stabbed her pimp? Hardly ever. And you know what? Don't keep turning over my credit card like it was a cantaloupe to see if it's bad. It's perfectly fine. It is. It's not like you're going to find a soft spot if you palm it enough. It is fine. The lady from India called just yesterday and we got my payment all taken care of. Run that thing, buddy. You just run it.

So those are the things that I felt needed some clarifying. I hope you see a broader picture now and aren't so quick to judge someone just by the fact that they were eight miles an hour faster than the Volkswagen bus next to me covered in a cloud of toxic fumes and missing a muffler. Yeah. That guy didn't get a ticket. That guy isn't having his credit card fondled, because that guy would never show up in court. He was too busy breaking all other boundaries of society, like not wearing a shirt while driving on a public road and turning the sky black with cancer to even know there was a speed limit, and that he was traveling 20 miles an hour under it.


Laurie Notaro

PS: Working behind glass doesn't make you more brave, you know. It doesn't. It just makes me want to ask you for one adult ticket to the matinee.

Stay tuned for new adventures with Laurie Notaro, and catch up on a few classics in any of her books including The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club: True Tales from a Magnificent and Clumsy Life,It Looked Different on the Model, I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies), There's a Slight Chance I Might Be Going to Hell, and An Idiot Girl's Christmas at Changing Hands, on Amazon, or through her website.

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