Monday, March 10, 2008

Space Monkey = Me

Just over a week ago, I wrote about people zoning out. Among other things I wrote:
Be careful out there. Pay attention. You can be certain that somebody isn't. They may be jogging, they may be driving, they may be riding a bike.

All I can do is try to remember to be here now.
I really should take my own advice.

Maybe the time change had a bit to do with it but this morning as I was riding to work my mind was elsewhere. I was the space monkey I warn other folks to watch out for.

I prefer riding on the road instead of the trail, so once I cross the bridge onto Mercer Island, I turn onto North Mercer Way. And as I ride along instead of being here now, I was thinking too far ahead about a project waiting for me at work.

Just how spaced out can one person be? So spaced out that I didn't see the GIANT YELLOW SCHOOL BUS with the FLASHING STOP ARM parked and loading up kids. The bus was parked pointed eastbound, ready to make the right turn up Shorewood Drive. I was headed westbound on North Mercer Way.

I'm a guy who stops for stop signs. I sure would have stopped for this one if I'd seen it but I didn't see it because I was totally zoned out.

I was so zoned out I not only didn't see the bus and the stop arm, I hadn't been checking my rear view mirror either. So I didn't see the police car that was right behind me either.

I don't think the bus driver could quite believe how zoned out I was, but he hit his horn as he saw that I wasn't slowing down. That snapped me out of my stupor just in time for me to be aware that I blew past the stop sign.

And of course the police officer hit his lights and pulled me over.

The bus driver and the police officer were totally right. I was totally wrong.

The officer was very professional and nice about things. I deservedly felt like an idiot. The officer was a bit surprised when I explained that I don't have a driver's license but he was perfectly happy to run my passport through the system. He also explained my options with the ticket. I can either pay the fine, schedule a mitigation hearing or contest the ticket. I'd only contest the ticket if I felt the officer was wrong for issuing me the ticket. He wasn't wrong, I was.

The fine is a hefty one, designed to impress on one the importance of driving safely around school children. It's a $394 ticket.

I'm going for a mitigation hearing. The hearing will at least give me more than fifteen days to come up with 394 dollars. And both the police officer and my lawyer friends tell me the judge may reduce the fine if I'm truly sorry and keep a clean record going forward.

I really do try to be here now but sometimes I forget. I feel I got off easy. If I was zoned out enough to space out on both a school bus and a police car, I could just as easily have been in an accident that would keep me from learning this or any other lessons.

With luck we get to live and learn.

I'm still learning.

Be careful out there.

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