The Government Told Me
I Was A Bad Girl
First of all, here in the Great Lake state of Michigan, we have that infamous, socialistic, and bureaucratized bureau of governmental decree called the Secretary of State. These are the morons who control and tax our freedom-mobiles (or gas-guzzling, environmentally irresponsible pieces of destruction, as Ford Chairman William Clay Ford likes to call ‘em. Now that's a guy who knows how to sell his products!) Now there really ain't no Secretary, for the Secretary is really the head politician who emblazes his (in this case "her") name in fancy neon above some rickety old door, where inside, the lines are long, the carpets are ragged, and the old ladies who work there hang their glasses on cheap chains, and look at you like they wanna kill you.
Second of all, that lady who calls herself "The Secretary" is the big, bad boss of buffoonery who says who is going to get a license, and who isn't. Well, good old me, I've been driving for twenty-two years without any incident other than a couple of tickets here and there, until the calendar year 1999. That's when I got an "official" letter from that Secretary lady. It said something like, "Miss De Coster, we would like to inform you that you have received the following tickets (it correctly listed four) and that you are in danger of losing your driving privileges."
Well wait a second. I have never hit anybody. I just had a bad year on the road, police-wise. They were everywhere this year. I just drove a little too fast three times (5 mph over), and made an "illegal" turn another time. So, they caught me. Oops. And they gave me eight points.
So that's fine, I'll watch my driving from now on, I say. That is, until my insurance company called and said they were going to send me a $4000+ annual bill to insure my 7-year-old big, bad, mean, and environmentally destructive 8-cylinder pick-up truck, because I was such a "high-risk" driver.
High risk! Yes, high risk, the government said, because I got too many tickets in too short a time. That's being a bad girl, they say. So that Secretary lady tattletale reported me to the insurance company. Since I don't make nearly enough to budget another $400/month, off I go to a lawyer to find a way to get those nasties off of my driving record, so I can once again be considered a "safe driver."
Well, me and my lawyer went to court to remove those tickets one by one, and wouldn't ya know, they were willing to remove a couple of tickets, but first, I had to agree to a distasteful little deal. I had to go to Driver Safety School. Here, I was assured, they would teach me proper respect for those pothole-filled, government roads and for my fellow drivers. Then I had to pass a little probationary period, where I had to be free and clear of any and all no-no's on the road.
So I showed up for the first of my (2) four-hour long Motor Vehicle Driver Indoctrination sessions. Mr. Instructor Guy waltzed into the little cubicle of a schoolroom, and told us the agenda for our 8 hours of sheer boredom: we were going to talk about common courtesy, road hazards, rules of the road, accidents, drunk driving, road rage, and personal responsibility. (All I ever wanted to know about life but was afraid to ask!)
I sat, and looking around, noticed that at almost 40 years of age, I was double the age of just about everyone in that room. I more than kinda had a feeling I didn't belong there, but had to bite the bullet and play along.
First, these kids in attendance were all just that — kids. Dumb kids, too. They sounded like not one of them had any education beyond the 5th grade. (But all of them probably had mothers who had those ridiculous feelgood bumper stickers that said "My kid is an honor student at such-and-such High School…)
It's a good thing I brought along a book to read — Finest News Reporting from TheOnion.com, a silly book with silly stories like, "Congress Passes Americans With No Abilities Act", and "Clinton Deploys Vowels To Bosnia." It was a whole lot more interesting than hearing all the indoctrination that all the dumb kids were listening to. Only I spied Mr. Instructor Guy peering over at me, and if I could have read his mind, it would have been saying, "Would you mind putting your alternative reading material down?" Of course I minded. The only reading material they gave us was some stupid booklet on safe driving; great wastebasket-liner material. But I closed the TheOnion book in the face of a hard stare, and chose to observe the "group therapy session" that was happening around me.
So I had to pay attention, now. That's when I noticed how really strange these other 7 or 8 people were. The IQ of the entire room put together was lower than mine, and being I was only 6 days post-shoulder surgery (major reconstructive surgery), it was an extremely low-IQ day for me to begin with.
My lawyer, who looks and talks just like Jack Nicholson — and wished he had all the ladies that Jack has — promised me it wouldn't be this bad when he cut me this fatuous deal. He told me to be nice to the judge, hold my tongue, and say "yes sir" when asked a question by the judge. I obliged. Then when they sent me packin' to group therapy for idiot drivers, he said, "No big deal. It's just one little class." Right. We'll see, Mr. Nicholson wanna-be.
So I observed. I started to make up names, in my head, for all of them nutcases in the room. There was an incredibly argumentative little gal next to me: Hard-assed Chick. Now Hard-assed Chick had something to say about everything that Mr. Instructor Guy said. (She had been getting on my nerves because I had been trying to read my Onion book!) She never shut up, and she played devil's advocate for every topic that ever surfaced throughout the group therapy session. I wanted to punch her at times, but I couldn't because of my bum shoulder.
Then there was Jaguar & Da ‘Fone Kid. He was 19, had a Jag (he said he got rid of his Porsche because it was too prone to being pulled over by the cops!), and he talked on his cell phone all throughout group therapy until he got yelled at by Mr. Instructor Guy for being so rude in the presence of "paying customers" (yes, we had to scarf up $70 for these two great nights of intellectual interplay.)
Then we had Bad-Mouth Suzi. She, according to her, never did anything wrong. It's just that cops were out to get her. But Suzi had such a Bad Mouth, that any police officer pulling this looney-tunes over, would certainly ticket her. She bad-mouthed Mr. Instructor Guy, and then argued with Hard-assed Chick over the legitimacy of seat belt laws and air bags, that is until Jaguar & Da ‘Fone's cell phone rang, and disrupted everybody. Of course, said Mr. Instructor Guy, seat belt laws and mandatory air bags were the only moral way, and that we were all too stupid to make those personal safety decisions on our own, so we needed Papa Government to make those decisions for us. But what he didn't tell us was that Papa Government was paying his big fat fee to teach the class that none of us needed anyway.
Well, them stupid little booklets they passed out turned out to be study materials for a brain-dead "driver's safety" test we all had to take — except me. Since I was wrapped from shoulder to belly-button in 8-inch thick, plastic body armor immobilizing my aforementioned surgically-impaired shoulder, I said, "Hey, I can't write", and Mr. Instructor Guy so kindly exempted me from such brain-deadedness as answering questions like, "When do you use your turn signal?"
I was starting to like Mr. Instructor Guy just a little, even though he was a paid state bureaucrat, taking otherwise viable taxpayer dollars to teach kindergarten-level common sense to a bunch of 20-something bad drivers who couldn't care less about MADD, or seat belts , or how to drive safely in the rain, or anything else. At least he told some good jokes, and he had some sympathy for an old gal high on Darvocet painkillers and wearing a plastic Russell Crowe "Gladiator " outfit.
In the middle of one of our sessions, we were solicited by Indoctrination Interruptus-The D.C. Kid. He came in selling cans of Coke for one dollar so he could afford that most indoctrinating of school trips — the trip to the Potomac Wasteland — to bow down before the shrine of Lincoln, and partake in the tales of glory about a tyrannical government that makes us kill our little people with mandated airbags, and won't let us buy toilets that can flush what they're meant to flush.
As Indoctrination Interruptus-The D.C. Kid told the group of his festive plans for the big trip in his PC way, he described how he had aspirations for a career in the "urban and regional planning field", so this would be his big chance to see how government works. Ahhh, the glories of public education!!! As he remarked about the wonderful learning experience that would be acquired therein, little did he know those cans of Coke he was selling were made by the most Un-PC of companies — that evil, discriminatory beverage giant down in Atlanta that Jesse Jackson would like to take to the cleaners for allegedly not liking black people too much.
All said and done, I received my "graduation certificate" that says I am now a safe and informed driver. And I only had to endure eight incredibly boring and useless hours of government-produced pontification in order to be elected to this Reformed Driver Hall-of-Fame.
As we went up to the front of the room to acquire these valuable pieces of paper that meant at least one less ticket on the driving record, Hard-ass Chick made another remark about these classes being a "a bigger waste of time and money than the government mandated airbags in her car." Hey, I think I am starting to like that gal just a little! At the end of eight hours of mindless, bureaucratic spewing of utter nonsense and Basic Group Therapy 101, I started to think that maybe she's a Libertarian, and doesn't even know it.
May 31, 2000
Karen De Coster is a politically incorrect CPA, and an MA student in economics at Walsh College in Michigan.
Copyright © 2000 Karen De Coster