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Dear officer: Thanks for the ticket ... really

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

All the cops in the doughnut shops say way-oh, way-oh ...

— The Bangles

I got a traffic ticket this week, the first in a long time and the first ever from an Albany Police Department officer.

Yeah, bummer.

My offense? Stop sign violation, or as the officer who gave me the ticket explained, “You did not re-establish your stop after the car in front of you pulled out into traffic.”

I’m sure the officer, a very thorough and very professional young lady, thought I was some kind of loony because I was absolutely flabbergasted to have been pulled over. As I explained to her — nicely and respectfully — I’m very cautious about stop signs since I recently saw a driver in front of me pulled over for executing what we’ve always called a rolling stop.

I genuinely was surprised, though, and I told the officer I thought she was mistaken because of my usual caution. I even asked her who I needed to contact if I intended to challenge the ticket. She politely explained the procedure.

Typically, I spent most of the rest of the day being mad about getting the ticket. I ended up telling several people about it during conversations, something else that’s typical. That old misery loves company thing.

Here are some of the responses I got: Yep, the city needs money, so they’ve got the cops out writing ticky-tack tickets to bring in more funds. ... Do you know anyone who can fix it? ... Yeah, they can stop a law-abiding citizen for some little something like that, but do you ever hear about them hunting down and catching real criminals?

And, there was this one: Are you surprised? Who do you think the Albany Police Department is going to ticket ... white men? It’s their payback.

I mean, wow, that’s not what I expected when I shared my misfortune.

All those comments were still on my mind when I had a late-evening conversation with musician/businessman Evan Barber, a guy I’ve really grown to like. He told me he was coming home from Valdosta recently and got stopped early, early in the morning in Doerun. Evan chuckled wistfully and said, “As many times as I ride through there, to have gotten only one ticket is pretty good. I figure I’ve been lucky so far and it was just my turn.”

Later, when I was thinking about all the comments I’d gotten about my misadventure, it hit me that Evan, though the youngest of the people I’d sought commiseration from, had made the most sense. His response was probably the most mature; definitely the least mean-spirited.

If someone had asked me five minutes after the APD officer stopped me if I’d come to a complete stop at the stop sign, I’d probably would have sworn that I had. But then, I reasoned after thinking a little less passionately, why would she have stopped me if I hadn’t done what she said?

Which led to another line of thinking: We pay these police officers squat, ask them to go out there every day and put their lives on the line — to serve and protect us — and then when their job inconveniences us, we gripe. And we make derogatory comments about them. On the other hand, if we’re victims of a crime or are involved in an accident, we don’t hesitate to call on them, to demand even that they be there for us.

So I’ll pay my fine. Like my buddy Evan said, “It was my time.” But I won’t perpetuate any of that racist profiling or fundraising or cops in the doughnut shops crap. Not for people who do their jobs each day with targets on their backs ... and get paid less than people involved in far less treacherous trade ... like writing articles for a newspaper, for instance.

Email Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcher@albanyherald.com.

Comments

agirl_25 2 years, 6 months ago

Years ago while traveling on Georgia highway 62 between Leary and Arlington I got behind a pickup full of redneck kids who kept tossing bits of something out of their truck that kept hitting my car. I passed them and when I got back into the lane I looked into the mirror and saw flashing blue lights. I was told by the GSP who wrote me my ticket that i was speeding. I knew I had accelerated but told him I had to in order to get past the truck and told him why I had passed the them. No matter, I got the ticket. A few days later I had gone to Albany to the doctor for my yearly checkup....the one women have every year and hate. The dreaded GYN visit. As I was coming home I saw the flashing blue lights in the vicinity of Doublegate and thought, egads, not again...and pulled over. THINK QUICK!!!!! I thought so I grabbed the receipt I got from the OB-GYN's office and figured if this didn't melt her heart nothing would.... got out of the car and with big old gator tears rolling down my cheeks said..."let me get my license" (my purse was on the back seat of the car) sniffle sniffle sniffle, "as if I don't have enough bad luck.......today is my birthday" (it really was and I had proof as I was going to show her my driver's license, I was 42 that very day)... "I just came from my OB-GYN's ofifce....had my yearly visit....I have a 21 year old and a 19 year old and I just found out I am pregnant. If it weren't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all."...cry cry cry cry cry cry cry cry cry cry till my shoulders shook.......What do you think? Do you think I got a ticket?

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 6 months ago

agirl.........I think you're really a Bgirl. ??

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waltspecht 2 years, 6 months ago

I would think so. After all that is what you pay them for. To correct the Safety problems created by a distracted driver. Whatever your reason for speeding, you either knew you were doing it, or were distracted from your driving task by something. The safety of all on the road must be protected. Now that I have rehashed the Political retorect, did they even write a warning?

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agirl_25 2 years, 6 months ago

I got a ticket......boo hoo.......the crying didn't do any good. I think what cinched the case was the $145 speeding ticket from the few days prior.....ya think? And actually I was going 14 miles over in a 45 MPH zone and really did not realize it. It was that stretch of Old Dawson Road out by Doublegate Country Club where I used to cut across several roads to hit Georgia 62 and the area was not as built up as it is now, plussssssssssss I was in my new cherry red 1986 Mazda RX-7 that I had bought as a celebration gift to me for getting my last kid out of the house and in to college and I think maybe that might have had something to do with it. She gave me a safety lecture, which I know I deserved (plus I had fibbed about being pregnant, which was wrong) and I of course got another ticket. So, I had to pay another speeding fine ($150.00) and altho I had 2 to pay within days of one another, I told my husband and paid them. Nothing has ever been said, since he himself has had 1 speeding ticket, in 1979, which of course to this day I have never let him forget.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 6 months ago

This kind of so-called "enforcement" is a grand waste of taxpayer money.

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reb_arty1863 2 years, 6 months ago

Carlton got a ticket that is referred to in law enforcement circles as chicken excrement.

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Progressive 2 years, 6 months ago

There should be improved training for the law officers on when it is appropriate to write a ticket requiring a paid fine. If there was no other traffic at the time you pulled forward after another car in front of you had just left the same stop sign, and you had not had a previous ticket on file, then a warning should have been sufficient. However, if a driver becomes disrepectful, arrogant, or obnoxious, then the officer should also use their descretion to write a ticket for the max fine. Show respect to the officer, and the officer shoudl show respect to the citizens.

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LoneCycler 2 years, 6 months ago

These kinds of traffic stops often result in the apprehension of serious criminals. It is not a waste of time to enforce traffic laws. Ever. People that don't obey stop signs don't obey other laws. Many a smooth criminal that thought they would remain free find themselves behind bars because of a poorly paid and apparently unappreciated patrol officer like the one that wrote paper on Mr. Fletcher. Which is discretionary in cases like this. No doubt the officer took a look at Mr. Fletcher and considered the financial straights of the City, the County and their own bank account before deciding he could afford the toll. Or maybe they had read that article of his in this paper about that concert down in Florida with all the rock, the roll, the sex and drugs. Kudos to Mr. Fletcher for getting over his hurt feelings and writing the headline. Many of us readers would also thank the officer for doing their job.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 6 months ago

"All the cops in the doughnut shops say way-oh, way-oh ..." Walk like an Egyptian...

Sorry I couldn't resist. LOL

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Martian 2 years, 6 months ago

Carlton, I'm sorry you got a ticket. Thanks for writing about it. Your experience could make me a safer driver. We all need a reminder once in a while.

My experience with tickets is this: I never got one I didn't deserve. I got three speeding tickets from about 1980 to 1990, then I got smart. I slowed down. No more tickets.

Every police officer who has ever stopped me as been totally professional. Personally I wish there were more of them on the roads. I see examples of dangerous, stupid driving every day - outrageous speeding, ignoring stop signs and blocking pedestrian crosswalks at intersections. Oh, I almost forgot - running red lights. I'm not talking about venturing into an intersection with a yellow light. I mean seeing that the light is red and ignoring it.

If anything, law-enforcement is too lenient in Georgia. The infractions I mention would not be tolerated in some other states, such as New Jersey and Virginia.

Driving is a privilege. When we drive, we're in control of a potentially deadly weapon. If we get a ticket occasionally, take responsibility for your actions and don't snivel. If you feel the officer made a mistake, you can't always request your day in court.

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agirl_25 2 years, 6 months ago

Martian is right about Virginia. I saw the word VIRGINIA and the red flag popped up. We lived in Virginia for a while (stationed at Langley) and by gosh as soon as you cross the state line into Virginia and see the little red bird on the Welcome to Virginia sign and that the VSP is out and on alert for speeders you had better beware. They do NOT take lightly to speeders. Excellent post Martian. I must admit my first ticket was the result of me trying to get away from someone who could have potentially damaged my vehicle (or caused me to lose control), but I probably should have just held back a while and let them get ahead of me for some distance. The second ticket was foolish on my part, not paying attention. I should have taken responsibility for my actions and NOT sniveled, but it was worth a shot...but it seems my ammo was all wet. Again, Martian.....great post.

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waltspecht 2 years, 6 months ago

I have often laid back and taken it real easy. Especially when it is one of the Gut Trucks driving up 520 / 82. The more distance between us, the better the air. Certainly wouldn't want to risk passing one of them. I have seen too many spills over the last eleven years.

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agirl_25 2 years, 6 months ago

I don't know what a Gut Truck is but it sounds like it must be a big one. I am a much more cautious driver now, I can promise you that, and have been for years. I have been driving for nearly 55 years and only have had those 2 tickets and have never been stopped for anything any other times and those tickets were because of pure stupidty on my part. Acutally I don't drive as much as I used to...prefer to be driven where I am going and don't really like to leave the quiet of the country for the city unless absolutely necessary. I guess I have turned in to grumpy old Miss Daisy and my poor husband has become my driver.........

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Shinedownfan 2 years, 6 months ago

The Gut truck is one of them American Proteins semi trucks full of chicken guts... in the summer if you get behind one, peeeeeuuuuuyyyy! Tons of them r on the by-pass & Hwy 82 to and from Cuthbert to the Feed Mill there.

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agirl_25 2 years, 6 months ago

OMG the things I learn..........and OMG what a sheltered life I have led..hahhaha... a Gut Truck......gotta love it.....can't wait to present this one on Sunday when my snooty friend comes by to visit.....hahahaha.....boy is she in for a treat when I bring it up over tea and cake.....haha........"By the way, Margaret, since you live so near to Cuthbert off 27, have you ever been behind one of those gut trucks as they are called? I hear the stench is terrible in the summer if you get behind one." I am sure the look on her face will be, as they say in the commercials on TV.......PRICELESS.....hahaha...when I explain what GUT TRUCK means...hahaha..so much for snooty friends.

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RedEric 2 years, 6 months ago

The last ticket I got I was driving an aluminum engine 1971 Vega with 51,000 miles on the ODO. It didn't have much power left. Anyway I was crossing a river bottom and had to go as fast as I could downhill in order to make it uphill. He stopped me at the bottom. I was only 7 or 8mph over. I told him my biggest concern was making it uphill from a dead stop. He laughed, said good luck and left me. I got back at him though....I peed on the side of the road

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