I got a traffic ticket on my way to work this morning. The Mocum cop caught me fair and square. As is usually the case when I’m pulled over, I was speeding on cruise control rather than being in a hurry (I was at least half-an-hour early for work). It was probably the nicest cop I’ve ever had. I have a temporary insurance card that had expired by two days and he didn’t seem to sweat it. I was hoping to get off, but he’s got a job to do and what’s really surprising is that the ticket was for a measly $53. Going 13-over in Colosse (most of Delosa, I’d actually say) would get you closer to $200.

But that’s neither here nor there. The biggest even of this ticket is that I don’t care. Part of me really wants to worry about it, but the biggest reason that I’ve always worried is no longer an issue. Let me explain.

The last time I got a ticket was a few years ago. I was caught in a speed trap on a rural highway. When you see a “reduced speed limit ahead” sign and see the speed limit go down ten miles an hour you feel pretty safe until you reach the top of the hill and are heading down when the speed limit decreases another 10 mph for no more than a 50 feet. I was on my way to Smyrna to visit my friend and it really ruined my weekend. Not because of the $200 fine or because of the inevitable insurance hike, but because my parents were going to find out about it.

Unfortunately, about two weeks before I had moved in with the folks for a few months while I worked and saved up for our trip out here. I also viewed it as an opportunity for Mom and I to mend our sometimes spotty relationship. With the ticket, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Sure enough, despite having taken care of myself financially for a few years and being many moons past eighteen, I was grounded. Mom and I did not speak for a couple of days and within a week I decided I didn’t need to save up that bad and made alternate living arrangements. That’s how bad it got.

Before getting married and moving out here, I’d lived my whole life in the greater Colosse area. It was very convenient in a number of ways. My folks’ house in Mayne was my permanent address so that I didn’t need to keep changing my drivers licenses, billing addresses, and all that every time that I moved. It all went to her. My bank account also had Mom’s name on it because it got me a better interest rate. So while I was paying for everything myself, my parents (Mom specifically) had access to more information than was probably appropriate. I’m not a particularly private person so it never bothered me… except when it did.

When I got my drivers license, nothing was more serious than the prospect of getting a ticket. I lived in regular fear of it. My folks would take my car away for a whole month and I’d have to ride the big yella to school. Uncool. But it worked: I didn’t get my first ticket until I was in college. And outside the city of Phillippe (long story), I never got more than a ticket a year and up until this morning’s ticket, I was eligable for the good-driver discount. They also taught me early and often the value of money. I was taught to live below my means and save up. This was very effective, too.

But in neither case do I worry about it quite as much as my parents. When working I try to put away 25% of my salary and more often than not that leaves me with a little spending room. Computers are my think and that’s where most of my money went. Courting Evangeline was also my thing, so a lot of money went there, too. But Mom would see my Discover bill and I’d hear about it. And Mom would certainly see whether I sent $200 to the Podunk County Sheriff’s Office. But for my part, one of the reasons I save money is so that I don’t have to freak out when some extra expense comes my way.

Mom and Dad were both raised poor and up until recently buying things that weren’t important were more than bad money management, it was a moral bad. They liked to spend money on trips and I liked to spend it on computer stuff (and didn’t mind spending it on eating out or high-speed Internet). Dad and I eventually came to terms with that (one of the most heart-melting things he ever said to me was that I am pretty good with money), but Mom and I never did.

Since getting married and moving away, I’ve had to take more responsibility for things. We have everything we can on autopayments. It kills Mom that we spend $10 a month on what she considers an unnecessary service, but I actually prefer it to the situation when I lived back there. I always figured that while doing all these things myself would not be hard, it would be somewhat stressful. But with the all-important exception of the credit card, I was actually paying most of my bills there (water, electricity, phone go straight to the apartment that’s getting it). And really, until Clancy pointed out how unnecessary some of these head-buttings between Mom and I were, I never thought a whole lot of it.

And until today, when I have no one to answer for my ticket but me, I never quite realized that it was taking a bigger toll on my life than taking ownership of the rest of my bills was.

Category: Coffeehouse, Road

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