Lessons I Begrudgingly Learned Running a Red Light
I Did Some Stupid Things So You Don’t Have To
I am not perfect. I know this is shocking, since my lipstick is always perfect. But I do occasionally do some stupid things. In early January of this year, I did something very, very stupid. I ran a red light, the kind with the camera that catches you doing that sort of thing. If I had listened to my instincts like Oprah always said we should, this would’ve been avoided. I was hungover from New Year’s festivities, emotionally exhausted from Christmas-related family drama, and I was very, very tired. I felt so depressed I decided to go to Jack in the Box. Yeah, I usually eat a strict paleo diet but like I said, I’m not perfect. I was at my breaking point and I just wanted some damn curly fries… there may have been a milkshake in the plan too.
I was at my best femme’s house all night, drinking wine and whining. It had been a rough few weeks. In my head I was planning my “fuck-it-all” meal at Jack in the Box. There was a back and forth between Good Ash and Bad Ash, one side using logic to remind me that fried foods, gluten and sugar make me sick, and the other side saying, fuck it, life sucks tonight, might as well eat some crap. I really wish Bad Ash had listened to Good Ash. Good Ash is annoyingly self-righteous but she’s always right. And she never runs red lights.
I hadn’t been to Jack in the Box in over a year, so I looked it up on Waze, already regretting the food I was about to put into my body. Waze told me to go left when I knew I should really go right, but I again ignored Good Ash and put my faith in my phone. I had never been on this road before, it was dark, it was late, I was tired, and I ended up blowing right through a red light. I saw the camera flash dramatically above me and I knew Bad Ash had gotten us into trouble.
In the weeks I spent waiting for my ticket, I fretted, fussed, cried, worried, panicked and prayed to the femme hippie goddesses. Checking my mail filled me with panic, then brief relief when there was no ticket. But the day it finally came, I could feel it. It was about a month after my night of poor decision-making. I’d stayed in San Francisco for two nights and during the drive home to Oakland, I knew what was waiting for me. And there it was in my mailbox: a stupid envelope from stupid court with a stupid picture of stupid me running a stupid red light.
The picture of me is my saving grace of this whole experience. I will concede that my look of sheer horror, shock and embarrassment is pretty much amazing. Maybe I’ll use this photo as my defense, I thought, I’ll just hand it to the judge and say, “Come on, dude.” Unfortunately, traffic court doesn’t work like that, as I would later learn. While I was amused by the picture, I was so stressed about everything else that I didn’t quite comprehend the letter. I thought another letter would be coming my way. I missed the part about how I needed to go to court by the end of March. I tossed the ticket in my filing cabinet (a.k.a. my floor), then went to New York for a couple weeks and forgot about it. Maybe if I just pretended it never happened, Oakland would play along!
Now here’s where I get extra stupid: In March I got another letter and I again misread it. This letter informed me I missed my court date and I was granted a 30 day extension. If I didn’t go to court in the next 30 days, I would owe an extra $310 on top of the $490 ticket. I very intelligently decided to again ignore it because I was totally gonna take care of this soon, really, I promise I was, I just had a lot to do that week and I still had 30 days or something. When I finally glanced at it again while cleaning my room weeks later, I realized I was three days past my extension and now another $310 in the hole. I called the court and after two and a half hours on hold, was informed by an angry-sounding man that there was a hold on my license and I needed to get to court ASAP to keep it from being suspended. He lectured me when I protested that the letter was confusing. I cried really hard because I’m a baby and he didn’t care. Asshole. I know, I know, it was my fault, but that guy was mean. Harumph.
I had blown it, over and over. It was time to face the judge.
Lessons I Learned:
– Do not go to Jack in the Box. Ever. It is disgusting and your body will hate you and you will run a red light getting there and the $2.99 curly fries will end up costing you about $900 in the end.
– Don’t listen to Waze. Waze is a useful app 85% of the time, but it’s not always right. I know my way around Oakland at this point and I knew it didn’t make sense to go that way. I should’ve trusted my instincts.
– Listen to Waze. Waze said “RED LIGHT CAMERA REPORTED AHEAD” and I was mad at Waze and I didn’t see a light so I ignored it. And then I drove right under it. You know the rest of the story.
– Use your reading comprehension skills. I have to pay an extra $310 fee because I didn’t read the original violation letter quickly enough. I was mad at myself and mad at red light cameras and as we’ve established, I was just plain stupid.
Stay tuned for Part Two and I’ll tell you about what happened when I finally dragged my ass to traffic court. Please learn from my mistakes. You don’t have to be perfect, but don’t be fucking stupid.
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