Sunday, February 17, 2013

How to Get Out of a Speeding Ticket

There is a joke I use on stage where I talk about a black comic friend who insists that I do all the driving on a road trip because police won't give a white person a speeding ticket.  The punchline of the joke is when I tell my friend that I'll drive, but if someone cuts us off he has to shoot them.  The joke almost always gets a laugh, but almost as often it causes someone to shout out "it's true"!

While I personally don't believe police have ever given me special treatment because of the color of my skin I will be the first to admit the coppers love me.  In the 15 years I have been behind the wheel of a car I have been pulled over by police about a dozen times and have only been given one ticket.  That's the kind of record a big breasted woman with a closet full of v-necks would be proud of.  Unfortunately a thinning hairline doesn't have the same appeal as a busty bosom so I have to do something very fiendish to talk my way out of tickets....  I don't try to.

A lot of people will try to lie to a police officer.  Other will flirt or offer fake compliments.  None of these techniques work for me because I, like many professional comedians, am a terrible actor.  If I lie other people can tell.  If I embellish a story or offer a insincere flattery it shows.  So, I use this to my advantage.  When a cops ask me if I know how fast I was going I answer honestly.  If I was speeding I say so.  If I thought I wasn't I say that.  I don't expect any special treatment and they can tell.  Most cops are good at detecting nervous ticks and tells and I believe when they feel I'm not trying to bull shit them they appreciate it. 

Cops have to deal with a lot of crap.  I imagine working as a police officer is a lot like being the manager at the lost luggage claims desk of an airline company.  Everyone you meet at your job is having a bad day, and most of them blame you for it.  After a day of people lying, swearing, or even spitting at you think of how nice it must be when someone admits they were at fault and accepts any decision you wish to make.  This, more than anything else, is what helps me keep my insurance rates so low.  Of course that's not the only thing...

While I admit I am not the best driver in the world (having been in one accident and a few near misses) I am a responsible driver.  I rarely speed, and almost never drive more than 10 miles over the speed limit.  I signal when I'm supposed to, stay off my phone (mostly) when I'm not supposed to be on it, and if I run over a pedestrian I always leave a note for their next of kin.  I'm not sure how much of this cops keep track of, but clearly it's enough to help my cause.   Three years ago I was pulled over because I failed to slow down while entering a school zone.  After the cop took my license and did a background check she walked back to my car and asked if I had EVER had a ticket in my life.  I told her about my one ticket 10 years prior and she complimented me on my good record and said she wasn't going to be the one to ruin it.  If only every cop could be so kind.

It helps that my record is void of any serious crimes.  I've never been drunk, or in the possession of drugs.  I've never done anything that's caused injury or damage.  And thankfully every time I've been pulled over my trunk has been void of a dead body.  These are the kind of flags I think most cops look for in a driving record.  My failure to come to a complete stop hardly qualifies. 

All this being said, I'm not naive enough to believe that my being white isn't an advantage and hasn't helped get me out of some trouble.  As I said before I don't believe any of the officers who pulled me over gave me special treatment because of my race, but I'm sure there are cops out there who do let stereotypes sway their opinion of some people.  I'd be lying if I said I had never done the same at some point to someone (and thanks to my terrible acting, you could tell).  However, believing a cop is racist does nothing to help you get out of a ticket.  Someone who is trained to read body language is going to get a pretty negative feeling from someone who is assuming they are a dick.  In this sense a fear of a ticket can become a self fulfilling prophecy. 

In case you are wondering happened the one time I got a ticket...  It was when I was 18-years-old and was driving on the interstate in Montana in the middle of the night.  At the time I was driving a mini-van but I was still cruising in the 90's in a 75mph zone.  When the cop pulled me over he said "I clocked you going 84."  Without missing a beat I said, "Yup.  Yup you did."  He laughed and eventually gave me a $20 ticket.  At least I got a laugh out of it. 

Whether right or wrong I choose to believe that most cops, like most people, are at their core good people.  Treat them as such and they will hopefully return the favor.  And if that doesn't help get you out of your next ticket it might help to show some cleavage. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Canadian Currency - It's a Little Loonie next time you travel to Canada, leave your pennies at home.  This month our neighbors to the north discontinued their smallest currency after realizing that it is as stupid as it is worthless. 

Pennies, both Canadian and American, are impractical on many levels.  For starters they cost almost 2.5 cents to make.  Then when they go into circulation, they don't circulate.  Most make it through one or two transactions before ending up in jars, couch cushions, or discarded on the sidewalk.  Without them being spent the mint has to make more for banks to distribute to stores, which then end up in jars and cushions and the cycle continues. 

Canada has finally decided to break the cycle, but efforts to do the same in the U.S. have run into a brick wall called special interests.  A penny advocacy group called Americans for Common Cents (a name that is as stupid as their goal) claims two thirds of Americans want to keep the penny for it's historic and cultural value.  You know that figure can be trusted too, because the group is funded by the zinc industry that helps the government make the pennies.  It's reasons like this why contries like Canada think our money is a joke.  And remind you, that's coming from a country that calls it's dollar the Loonie.

It's not just the Canadian dollar that's loony.  All of the money is a little funny.  Their dollar is a coin that gets it's name from the loon bird on the back.  It has become so popular they starty circulating a two-dollar coin called the... wait for it... Toonie.  Canadian bills aren't much better.  No silly names like the coins, but they do come in a variety of Monopoly colors and they include anti-counterfeit features that seem the stuff of science fiction.

Starting two years ago Canada began introducing new plastic polymer bills to replace the old paper ones.  The bills have a smooth silky feel, which I'm sure is a relief to strippers who suffered with a stuffed g-string chaffing.  Dancer benefits aside, the polymer lasts twice as long as paper bills and is a lot harder for counterfeiters to duplicate.  Other security features include clear windows with magnetic reflective holograms, raised ink and braille marks for the blind, and I kid you not.. a scratch and sniff maple leaf.  That's right the science that has been entertaining Kindergarten students is now keeping criminals from money laundering.  

Even with Canada's innovations there is one thing that makes U.S. bills superior.  They, unlike those of our Zamboni driving neighbors, don't have the queen's face on them.  I like to tease my Canadian friends with this fact, but as one of them pointed out to me on my last visit, if you squint your eyes at George Washington he looks a lot like her highness.