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Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Me vs. the Eugene Municipal Court (part 1)

There's nothing worse than a loud knock at the door on a Sunday morning. It's worse when you're extremely hungover and almost completely incapable of speech, let alone getting out of bed. And it's even worse than that when your visitor is a police officer.

Fortunately, I was staying at the house of few friends in Eugene and one of them dealt with the situation. Unfortunately, his solution was to peep through a window, ignore the cop entirely and wander back to bed. Not that I can blame him. I would have done the same thing. Since the cop hadn't arrived with a crew, riot gear and a battering ram, whatever he was there for could obviously wait until after we had we had all recovered from the gargantuan "El Dorado" margaritas we'd consumed the night before.

I finally came to life a few hours later. Eager to greet me was a parking ticket.

A $50 parking ticket.

For my legally parked vehicle.

A vehicle legally parked in a quiet neighborhood that the Eugene Police Department rarely patrols.

For months now I'm gripped to anyone that will listen about how my "ride," an ancient Toyota van covered in bumper stickers, is a magnet for traffic cops, meter maids and other autocrats. In the last year alone I've received numerous parking tickets and moving violations despite my positively amazing skills as a driver.

Do you know what it's like to be pulled over for going 10 MPH above the speed limit after you've been nearly blasted off I-5 by a driver maxing out his speedometer? I do. I blame the methamphetamine epidemic for this recent waive of fines and harassment. After all, look at this thing:

Doesn't this van look like something a dealer with $100,000 worth of crank packed in the tires would drive? If you disagree, it's probably because you can't see the rust spots on the roof, the damaged bumper, the torn insulation around the windows and the family of mice that have been living in the glove box since July. For what it's worth, each officer that's pulled me over has seemed genuinely surprised to find a clean-cut, conservative-looking goofball behind the wheel instead of a jittery methhead.

And unlike all those other tickets, I positively, 100%...ok, 95% didn't deserve this one. This ticket was a travesty, an outrage, a, dare I say it, COMPLETE MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE! I even had evidence backing me up. See for yourself.

No yellow curb. No blocked driveway. The tires were two inches from the curb and there wasn't a single fire hydrant from that spot to the horizon.

OK, there was a "No Parking" sign but it was over a hundred feet away and couldn't possibly apply to where I parked. Right?

What could I do about this though? The court date on the ticket was set for 8 AM on a weekday. Driving back to Eugene would have cost me roughly the price of the fine. I did the only thing I could: I entered a written plea with the ticket and sent along a self-addressed, stamped envelope and the photos you see here. The small print told me I would receive a reply within a few weeks.

So did the Eugene Municipal Court hear my impassioned plea for justice? Did they right this terrible wrong? Did they rejuvenate my faith in the system?

You'll have to wait for the answer tomorrow in part two of this incredibly exciting tale that has no doubt put you on the edge of your seat. Go ahead, check your butt right now. It's on the edge of your seat, isn't it?


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