Fandango’s Friday Flashback — January 31

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember?

Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 31st) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.

This was originally posted on January 31, 2012 in my old blog.

San Francisco Scofflaw

scoff·law [skawf-law, skof-] noun: a person who flouts the law, especially one who fails to pay fines owed.

I am a law abiding citizen. I’ve never been arrested and have, only a few times over the course of my nearly fifty years of driving, been caught going over the speed limit, the operative word being “caught.” Okay, I admit that I have a tendency to exceed the posted limit, but hell, I’m just trying to keep pace with everyone else.

I also have to go on record that, having spent close to half my time in San Francisco over the past two years, I rarely drive when in that city. I mostly walk and use public transportation to get around, only infrequently pulling my car out of the garage.

So I was quite surprised the other day to receive a very official looking letter from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). I opened it up to see large, bold lettering that read “Notice of Delinquent Parking Violation.” Yikes!

My first thought was parking violation…what parking violation? Then I looked closely at the delinquency notice, at the date and time of the violation, and realized that this alleged parking violation took place on the same morning I drove my wife to the dentist after she chipped a tooth. I dropped her off and was sitting in my car, in the driver’s seat, in a parking space on the street in front of her dentist’s office patiently waiting for her return.

8217BA78-75CD-4AC6-A82B-F08F0F4CB350After about 10 minutes, a San Francisco meter-maid pulled up next to me in one of those weird little traffic carts, like the one pictured above. She motioned for me to move my car. I was a little puzzled by why she was gesturing for me to move; I was parked at a legitimate parking space.

However, being the law abiding citizen that I am, I immediately complied. I drove the car about a half a block away to an alley between the dentist’s office and a motel parking lot, where I waited another 15 or so minutes until my wife’s appointment was over.

I gave this brush with the law no further thought until this aforementioned notice was delivered to my home back east. My alleged violation, the notice indicated, was that it was a designated street cleaning morning, meaning that parking on that particular side of the street on that particular morning was not permitted.

96871F18-E890-465E-8F9F-3CF1B6012C6AOkay, that explains why the meter-maid motioned for me to move, but since I promptly obeyed, it doesn’t explain why a ticket was supposedly issued, or why I was never presented with said ticket.

The letter said, “Our records show that you have failed to respond to the parking ticket listed herein.” Yeah, I failed to respond because no one ever gave me a friggin’ parking ticket! How was I supposed to respond to something I never received?

The only way to clear up this matter, the notice advised, would be for me to immediately remit a check for $95 — $55 for the parking violation plus a $40 “collection fee” for being “delinquent.” Seriously?

NFW, I said to myself. Without delay I sat down at my computer and composed a scathing letter in which I stated all of the relevant facts and put the SFMTA on notice that I would be vigorously appealing its invalid violation and outrageous fine.

Another Fine Mess

Speaking about outrageous fines, I am also contesting a $480 ticket…seriously, $480…I received in the mail for being caught on a traffic-cam in Millbrae, CA turning right on red without coming to a full stop. My wife and I were driving our daughter to the San Francisco airport and I somehow missed the airport exit. I got off at the next exit, ultimately made my way back to the freeway, and headed back to the airport…in time for our daughter to catch her flight.

Yes, I suppose I was a bit flustered, having missed the airport exit and not wanting my error to cause our daughter to miss her red-eye flight back to Boston. And yes, I did sort of roll through the red light as I made my right turn.

But the evidence will show, your honor, that I did slow down and I did look both ways before sort of cruising…slowly, of course…into the turn. And as Rayman (the Rain Man) Babbitt would say, “I’m an excellent driver.”

And so, as I did with the SFMTA, I put the Superior Court of California on notice that I would be vigorously appealing its violation and the even more outrageous fine.

The next notice I receive, being the scofflaw that I apparently am, will probably be a warrant for my arrest.

January 31, 2020 postscript. The Superior Court of California ultimate did waive the $480 fine for rolling through the red light, but the SFMTA did not waive the $55 parking ticket, although they did, at least, waive the $40 “delinquent collection fee.”