I got a speeding ticket today. In the mail. I was baffled at first as to why I would be getting an envelope from the Calgary Police Service. Had I performed some act of heroism for which I would be rewarded? Perhaps a thank-you note recognizing my many years of law-abiding behavior and helpful attitude? One can always hope. But inside was a picture of my car with an accusation attached: I had been driving at an obscene speed of 45 km/h, for which they wanted a ransom of $89.
It was in one of Calgary’s many 30 km/h zones. You know, those playground zones where children have not been seen playing since Ralph Klein was mayor and parking cost less than $10 a day. I checked the address of the crime scene, and after consulting a map, remembered it was one of those places where there was indeed a playground in the vicinity, about half a block from the street, protected by a 10-foot wire mesh fence just in case some pedestrian or child got the notion of venturing anywhere near traffic. But if some crazy pedestrian managed to vault the fence and make a Seabiscuit dash for the curb, City Hall wanted to make sure that all the cars were going slow enough to avoid a potential suicide leap on the part of said crazy pedestrian. At 45 km/h, I had no hope at all of being able to stop in time.
Don’t get me wrong: I always slow down if there are children playing or walking anywhere near the street, especially if they are walking a dog. It’s just that they don’t do it in designated playground zones. Kids tend to hang out close to home. They play street hockey in front of their houses, or walk the dog around the block. They’re not allowed to take their dogs into playground zones anyway.
Anyway, all that aside, having recently studied such topics as Zen and personal accountability, I tried to stop my mental firing squad long enough to think of ways that I can learn from this experience. I asked myself how a speeding ticket could benefit my life. Perhaps I could even find something to be grateful for in all this.
I thought of a couple things, but I don’t really want to tell you because it might take away some of my reasons for staying angry. You might even agree with me that there was some good to the experience, and then you will be less motivated to join my insurrection against City Hall.
Aw heck, you can’t fight City Hall. So here goes.
1. Anger is a good motivator to take action. Traffic tickets (and other traffic woes) are motivating me to find another place to live, away from Calgary’s insanity. City Hall has been trying very hard to make Calgary an unattractive place to live, by dumping toxins in the water supply, keeping transit service well under demand, and designing neighbourhoods to create maximum congestion. These are all very good motivators to leave the city and find some place warmer, safer and more beautiful to live. It was my choice to live here, my choice to buy a house here, and now it is my choice as to where I want to go next. I have the power.
2. It reminded me to slow down, even if I think I’m going slow enough as it is. After all, I don’t really have anything to rush off to. As I was thinking about this one, I was swimming lengths in the pool. I am just getting back up to 20 lengths now. I was sharing a double-lane with a 60-ish woman who was going so slowly that I almost thought she was treading water. I didn’t think very highly of her swimming skills. But as I breathlessly finished length #16, she turned to me with a smile, and announced she was done her 40 lengths for the day.
“That’s a lot more than I can do,” I replied.
“Well, when you’re my age, you’ll be able to do it,” she said encouragingly.
I guess, when I’m too old to move fast, I’ll be so slow that I can do all the laps I want.
3. For all my complaints about City Hall, we still live in one of the safest places on Earth. My infraction got me an $89 ticket. I didn’t get shot, beat up or thrown in jail. I don’t live in a war zone, and I’m not starving to death. And despite the toxins in our water, it’s still some of the safest drinking water in the world.
Well, that’s about it for now. You can probably tell I’m still pissed off, but I’m trying to change. I’m trying to see the world in a more positive light. I’m trying to let go of limiting beliefs and be full of gratitude and love. It’s just that sometimes stuff happens and I don’t like it, because I’m only human. For now, anyway.