Sunday, January 20, 2008

Traffic School and The Adventures of Game Stop Boy

Wow, I haven't been around in a few days. I feel like I have all this reading and commenting to catch up on, but I know that first you want to hear about traffic school, don't you? I knew you did.

So for those of you who are unaware, back on December 8th, I mentioned in this post that I thought I may have been caught by a red-light camera. I was making a left turn, and in my head the arrow was still yellow when I entered the intersection. In my head, I was wrong.

Yesterday, I got to spend 5 hours in a class called AZ Crash Course, and I got to pay $133 to attend. My first instinct was to just pay my fine ($161), but I found out that if you run a red light, in addition to paying your fine, you also have to attend a class given by the MVD, which will run you another $50. So to save myself aggravation, points on my license, the risk of my insurance going up and $78, I took the Crash Course.

I think I went in there with a pretty good attitude (Xanax). I got the whole morning kid-free, after all! I had planned to take some notes and post some funny anecdotes about the class itself. Only there was nothing really funny about the class. It was actually pretty good. It was informative and made me think about a lot of bad habits that I have when I'm driving. Since I am currently teaching someone to drive, it made me think even more about my bad habits. In my opinion, the instructor did a great job, mixing humor with facts and information.

Since there wasn't really anything blog-worthy about the class itself, instead I'm going to tell you about the people at my table. We were in a large community-type room that they have hidden in the mall. There were several big round tables, seating about 8 people each. I think she said there were 76 people total in the class. When I entered the room at the time I was told to be there (7:45am), the place was already pretty full. I had to search to find an open seat, so I grabbed the first one I saw, which may not have been the best idea. Let me introduce you to my table:

On my immediate left, we have the Old Guy. Because he is old, he has experienced everything and knows everything about any subject anyone happens to bring up.

Moving clockwise, next to Old Guy we have Angry Guy. Angry Guy was I'm guessing in his late 20s and probably the worst offender in the room. Most of the people in the class were speeders, with a handful of criminal speeders (21 mph or more above the speed limit). Then you had a group of red-light runners like me, a few left-turn violators, a few "failure to avoid collision" people, and two HOV (carpool lane) violators. However, Angry Guy was cited for no tags, no license, no insurance, criminal speeding, and something else that I can't remember. At one point when we were given a break, I said, to no one in particular, "Well, this isn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be." Angry Guy just looked at me and said "I'm hating every minute of it." Ok then. I'm guessing if I were him, and I knew that this class was only knocking off one of my FIVE violations, I might be angry too. In fact, now that I think about it, I'm wondering why he was in that class instead of in jail. He totally looked like one of those guys who you see on the news arrested for abusing his girlfriend's child. Just saying.

Next to Angry Guy was one of the two HOV lane offenders. Did you know that the fine here for driving in an HOV lane by yourself is a minimum of $360? I'm never doing that. No wonder this lady tried to claim her unborn fetus was a second person in the car. I thought it was a ridiculous claim at the time, but I didn't know how much the fine was. I can see why HOV Guy chose the class. Seemed like a nice guy, probably in his 50s. I wonder why Preggo Lady didn't just take the class?

Next to HOV Guy was another normal-looking guy, wedding ring, 30-something, wearing a Broncos hat. As I was wearing Steve's Broncos shirt, I said to the guy "Hey, nice hat!" He replied "Nice shirt!" So that's Broncos Hat Guy.

Next to him was yet another normal-looking, 30ish, wedding ring-wearing guy, who I can't think of anything remarkable about, except that he kind of argued with the instructor that hands-free cell phones in your car were much safer than the type you hold in your hand. The instructor did not so much agree with him on that, saying that most of the time, the problem is not having only one hand on the wheel, but having your brain distracted by the conversation. I totally agree with this and have argued this point with many people who have tried to tell me that hands-free phones are safer. I do talk on my phone while driving, which I know is very bad, and I'm going to try not to do that so much anymore.

Next to Bluetooth Guy was an empty chair, which was taken by a 50ish woman at last moment, so at least I wasn't the only girl at the table. She was nice too.

Last but not least, between the Other Lady and me, was ... I don't even know what to call him. How about Holy Crap I Wish I Had Picked A Different Table Guy. Big chunky kid, 21 years old, works at Game Stop. I know this because he told us. As soon as the ice was broken at the table by me turning to Old Guy and saying "So, what are you in for?", this kid starting talking. And throughout the entire 5 hour class, he would. not. shut. up. He was constantly making stupid comments about things the instructor was saying plus sound effects, but since we were near the back, I don't think she could hear him very often. You could totally tell everyone else at the table was trying to ignore him. Every few minutes, Other Lady would smile at him and say "Shhhhh." She was really trying to be nice. After a while though, she left the table and went and stood at the back of the room for a while. I didn't blame her.

The instructor would be saying something like "I know of this family who had this situation and their 8 year-old child was killed when he was hit by a car," and Game Stop Boy would be like "Oh yeah, 50 points for the kid!"

Now, before the class started, somehow our table was talking about jury duty. I forget how it came up, but Other Lady said that she had just been on a grand jury, which was like 3 days a week for 4 months, and was just saying that she thinks she's now seen and heard just about everything, from traffic stuff to murder, pedophiles, armed robbery, etc. What she was saying was interesting, I thought. Game Stop Boy said about three times something like "I'm glad I never have to do jury duty again, after last time. Everybody just ignored him, and then Old Guy started talking about how he was on a capital murder trial one time that lasted six weeks. So again, Game Stop Boy says how he's glad he doesn't ever have to do jury duty. So Other Lady, bless her heart, finally says,

"Why's that?"

Game Stop Boy then informs us that he has autism, or a form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome. Being a psych major, I am familiar with Asperger's. I also was a teacher's aide one time in a first-grade class where there was a little girl with Asperger's, so I have done quite a bit of reading on it. Most of the table just went Huh? and then went back to trying to ignore him.

For those of you who don't know, Asperger's is on the extremely high-functioning end of the autism spectrum. A lot of people who have it are very smart, and it mostly manifests itself as social awkwardness. They have difficulty reading other people's emotions, facial expressions, body language, etc. It's also common for them to have a hyper-interest in one particular his case, video games. I've seen it in a child before, but not in an adult. And in an adult, in Game Stop Boy's case, it manifests itself in a complete inability to recognize that you are annoying the living shit out of every person around you. I swear, I have never wanted to smack a complete stranger so much in my entire life.

Before I get any irate comments, please know that I am not making fun of autism, or anyone with autism, or people with Asperger's, for that matter. I only wanted to throttle this particular person. And I know I wasn't the only one.

In fact, the only time in the whole class that Angry Guy smiled was when Game Stop Boy got up to go to the bathroom, and A.G. said to Other Lady and me, "Boy, I guess you two really picked the wrong seats, didn't you?"

Yes, Angry Guy...we certainly did.

I think my favorite part of the class was when we had to divide up into groups based on our infractions. The speeders were all in the front of the room, and that was most of the class. Game Stop Boy was in the failure-to-avoid-collision group. In other words, he hit someone. The instructor stood in the front of the room and spoke to each group about their violations. She called Game Stop Boy's group, "The Tailgaters." To which Game Stop Boy whined very loudly,

"But I wasn't tailgating!

The instructor smacked him down with this:

"In the state of Arizona, you must maintain a reasonable and prudent following distance. What constitutes reasonable and prudent? You must be far enough behind the car in front of you to make a safe stop. Since you hit the person in front of you, you were not far enough behind them to stop safely. Therefore, you were tailgating."

Take that, Game Stop Boy!

I knew I liked her. The instructor, that is. I talked to her afterward, because she said this class can also be taken for educational purposes, and I had wished about 20 times during the class that Danni had been there with me. I think it would be good for her to take it. Also, if you don't have a ticket and are just taking it for education, it's only $40, not $130+ that most of us in the class paid. Would that be mean of me?

I did take a lot of notes in class though, because they were all things I wanted to go over with Danni. I'd like to teach her good habits, instead of my bad ones.

How funny is that, when you've got your learners permit, and your mom is teaching you how to drive, and she has to go to traffic school? Hahaha. Hahahaha. Think that's amusing, do you, my lovely daughter?

Hopefully, she wouldn't wind up sitting next to Game Stop Boy.


Kiki said...

Too funny! I personally like the HOV violators. I could argue that my many moods entitle me to use the lane.

Great post. I thought I got caught by a Red Light Camera the other day too. We'll see if I wind up in traffic school with a cavalcade of blog fodder.

LOL post.

Kristabella said...

My one foray in traffic school was in northern California. And I was the only who spoke English. So what I was hoping would be a day of zoning out and sleeping with my eyes open, became a day where I was constantly speaking for the group.

Thankfully, Illinois does it all online, so I didn't have to talk to anyone. And could do it at work.

onthegomom said...

Loved your description of your table mates. VERY FUNNY!!!!! I am glad the class was somewhat productive, I would rather have that than a complete waste of time and money.

Mary said...

Game stop boy was NOT tailgating! LOL. He must have just been there for fun.

My 16 yr old is trying to learn to drive too. She has her permit and I get to be her passenger. She will end up in traffic school! Last time I rode with her she ran three stop signs and didn't use her turn signal. I don't wanna ride with her anymore!

Jenifer said...

Only you could make traffic school sound fun. Only $40 for those who need the eductation? Maybe I should sign J up. Did you see what he did to my van?

Shelley said...

Kristabella - I was so hoping I'd be able to do it online, but this particular city doesn't accept online classes. And then I never would have met Game Stop Boy and Angry Guy. :)

Mary - I know! Being the passenger is some scary stuff.

Jen - I'm not sure I'd go as far as to call it fun, but I didn't mind it, either. What about your van? What did he do? I'm calling you later.