the tale of the traffic officers

Ok ... let us talk about traffic fines.  And traffic fine givers.  And traffic fine receivers.  Now we all get them (those of you who don't are a bit weird I think). 

En route to Umdloti in the first few days of January, I had the two Matric girls in my car, whilst Eug drove down with the two Gr 8 boys.  Sexist we are.  The whole way, 120 /123 km/h ... and vigilant, as the road to the coast was a myriad of traffic police and radar cameras.  I watched all the way.  Then here half way along the trip, is a loooooong downhill and the girls are telling me some "skinner" about school and I am glancing at them ..... how was I to know that during that glance I would not notice the speedo creep to 131km/h and how was I to know that the downhill was letting us go a tad faster?  Well I did know when Mr Traffic Officer jumped out in front of a road full of people driving fast, and flagged me down.  Damn.  He politely explained my predicament and proceeded to fill out what is a very long form for the fine.  Humph!  In the meantime my annoyingly keep to the speed limit all the way to Umdloti, husband pulls up.  However the traffic officer does not know he is my husband.  Eug winds down the window and says "Yes officer, give her a fine, she was speeding I saw".  "Ok", says the officer, "please carry on driving sir".  But Eug persists "It is people like her that need to get fines".  With a lot less patience the cop says "sir, I have asked you to please drive on, we are handling it".  I think by the time he understood from me that it was my husband, he was ready to arrest him instead. Maybe I should not have admitted our relationship.

When we got home I got two of those annoying AARTO envelopes.  Always the highlight of the visit to the post box.  And there on the same trip, just past Pietermaritzburg, I go through a 120km/h camera trap doing 126 and exactly 9 minutes later through a 2nd one doing 125.  So it was a somewhat expensive trip.  I did however manage to make it back to Pretoria a week later without a single ticket. 

I remember many years ago driving up Paul Kruger Street on my way to a hair appointment.  Time was of the essence to get there and here I find myself behind a metro cop car, which was being driven at about 18km/h..... now please understand ...... I held back as long as I could but eventually when I realised I was going to be 2 days late for my appointment, I indicated like a good citizen and overtook him.  As I pulled in front of him he switched on the blue lights and the siren.  Bit of overkill I thought.  A simple pull alongside and show me to pull over would have also worked.   Now when he got out he brought everything .... ticket book, gun, gum and the walk with attitude.  "Lady" he said "what kind of a person can overtake a police vehicle and pull in front of them?".  Now I truly believed that my answer of "any person" was not unreasonable because I did not think there was a bylaw against overtaking a cop at a reasonable speed.  However the speech that followed would have made a person weep, if they were not already late for their hair appointment.  He let me off with a warning .... but flip it took long to deliver it. 

Then there was the time we were in Nelspruit or somewhere around there (don't feel like going to Google to find out what it is called now) ..... and we needed to go to the Post Office (why the hell did we not go before we left Pretoria) ... so we driving down the road and I spot the Post Office on the opposite side of the road.  So as we are halfway down the block I thought a quick u-turn would be appropriate.  Now yes, there was one of those little 1m high signboards which I am told means no u-turns .... but surely that does not apply to out of town people?  So as I start making the u-turn Eug says "don't turn here there is a cop".  In fact I think he said it 3 times, it was hard to hear the other 2 as he was shrieking quite hysterically.  As I straightened the car (after the u-turn), aforementioned cop hit the siren and approached us on a very big motorbike. "What the hell were you thinking", muttered aforementioned husband.  Now outside the post office were A LOT of people waiting to use the phones.  Now this cop went even bigger than the hairdresser one.  Gun, finebook, truncheon looking thingy, helmet, leather gloves and a walk like he had just got off a horse.  "What arrrre you doing", he asked me.  I thought "a u-turn" was a perfectly honest answer.  Clearly he wanted me to lie as when I said that little answer he went completely deranged ...... he delivered his speech with froth coming out his mouth and wrote the fine with such firmness I think he went through about 6 carbon pages.  Jeez talk about sweating the small stuff.  I wanted to suggest anger management but felt perhaps it was not the time. 

Now in their wisdom whilst widening the N1 highway they put up camera traps to keep people at 80km/h and under.  However the highway is now almost done and we have 5 lines in some places and 4 lanes in others.  I am talking about a major highway between Johannesburg and Polokwane .... have you ever seen 5 lanes of traffic hurtling along at 120km/h (the speed limit on the highway) and then suddenly see a huge yellow camera trap on the side and all brake to get under 80km/h ... do you know what chaos it causes when you do 120, slow down to 80 and then back up to 120?  So since I do not want to be part of a chain accident and have my Henrietta bumped either front or rear, I do what EVERYONE who rides on that road 6 times a day like me, does.  Just keep going.  And every now and then it flashes.  AARTO letters .... they must be headed towards me. 

Yes, Officer, I did see the speed limit sign. I just didn't see you. 



Till next time
c'est la vie xxxx


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