Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bad Dog Driving School

There is a spot on Highway 20 just west of Freeport where the speed limit suddenly changes from 65 to 55 to coincide with the change in the roads status from “urban” to rural. I know this flashpoint of speed exists and I know exactly where it is and I have proof in the form of a lovely little speeding ticket issued to me in May.

On my way to the Sectional Track meet that would determine who was going to run down state, I had the occasion to be pulled over. When the stern officer asked me, in the company of both an impressionable high school girl and my folks (both attorneys mind you), I told the truth. Yes, I was speeding, so sorry, please give me the ticket and hurry please so I can watch my son run. While he was back in his squad car completing the ticket, I endured a barrage of stories I could have, nay, should have given him concocted by my father and step mother – all of which involved lies. LIES. You would think at their age they would have a good grip on the effects of karma, but whatever. I stoically faced my ticket, listened to the instructions and made my way to Sectionals just in time to see Jeff run.

Technology has changed the whole process since my last speeding ticket ( 1993, 28 mph in a 20) and I was able to pay my fine and take the Bad Dog Driving class online, in my own time and in my own comfortable chair – in pajamas even!

And so, with little fanfare, a cup of coffee and my trusty laptop, I logged on, created my very own double secret password so no one could tamper with my progress should I care to take a break, and clicked on “Begin Session,” which I now recognize was the signal to shove dried bamboo shoots under my fingernails.

The “class” consists of five sessions with a quiz at the end of each session where you MUST earn an 80% or better to move on to the next session and a final test over all five sessions where again you MUST score 80% or better to get the damn ticket removed from your driving record. Further, it is a timed affair so must be finished not only by the deadline date, but within the time allotted for each section. I was beginning to think 4 hours on a Saturday morning where I could have at least allowed myself the luxury of doodling would have been the better choice. Because guess why. . .you don’t just read the pages, you have to listen to the really annoying, condescending voice over actor who dreams of performing Shakespeare in the Park read the text to you too. Sure I could have turned the voice to mute but then I ran the risk of busying myself with something else while King Lear reads the text and then I would miss the little icon of a traffic light on the screen that turns green when you can move to the next page. That wouldn’t be such a big deal if it wasn’t TIMED meaning that I only had so many minutes to complete the section or DO IT OVER. So I HAD to pay attention to the text and the voice and the traffic light icon to get to the end of session test where I had to score 80% or better.

Guess what, they don’t just ask the same basic kinds of questions about driving laws that they do at the DMV, instead they actually ask questions based on the “lecture.” Who knew? It’s a good thing I have some common sense and a little luck and that’s all I’m saying on the subject for now. This may just be a five section series. . .and expect a damn test after each section with a final in which I expect you to score 80% or better!

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