I’ve got a date with the devil on Friday — traffic court. And if everything goes as expected, I’ll be behind bars by lunch. My cellmate will undoubtedly be called Big Norma.
Illinois, you see, is mired in debt, drowning in it. We’re the new Detroit, except we’re an entire state. However, the scary part isn’t the zillion dollar budget deficit. The scary part is the fact that no one in state government has the imagination or the brains to find new sources of revenue. If they can’t tax it, license it, impose a fee on it, or levy a fine for it, they’re stumped. Fresh out of ideas.
That’s the state. The city, a moribund place if ever there was one, has fewer options and even fewer ideas — if that’s possible. Traffic tickets are the golden goose. Parking tickets are good, too, but there’s not much future in those. Most meters are downtown and who goes downtown? No one. There’s nothing there but abandoned buildings and a curious fishy smell. Pretty soon Parking Enforcement will zoom up on motorists stopped at red lights (they’re every thirty feet) and ticket drivers for parking violations. Count on it.
Right now, however, I’m more concerned with traffic tickets; I was issued four of them. Four. At one time. Speeding. Expired plates. No insurance. A canceled driver’s license. Two of those are totally bogus: I’ve had continuous insurance coverage all along, but no idea my license was canceled. By the stoopid stinking state, no less. I wasn’t notified of any problem and neither was my insurance company. What the hell, right?
It’s a scam, a cheap, underhanded grab for money. The fine will be a doozy, I’m sure — hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars. In either case, it’s a big, fat wad of cash I do not have. And I’m steamed. That doesn’t bode well, you know? Accusations will be made, fingers pointed, and I’ll smart off. It’s a biological imperative with me, I’m powerless to stop it. Then the bailiff will be directed to take me into custody and, adiós, away we’ll go.
So farewell, my friends. I’ll miss your smiling faces. If you get a chance, stop by on visitor’s day and bring a cake (with a file in it). I’ll be the one sporting an orange jumpsuit and nervous twitch.
Hi ho, all. Until parole.
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