Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The cops just keep getting my picture

WASHINGTON

I recently spent $510 at the market for two lobsters, three flounders and a few crab legs.

No, I am not insane, exactly. I am at war with a speed camera, and I am losing. This camera has popped me three times for tickets of $125 apiece, each in the same spot, which is en route to the marina where I buy my seafood.

Because you have a nimble mind, you have questions. I am happy to address them.

Why don't you slow down?

"25 mph." That is the technical speed limit on the 200 block of M Street SE in Washington, a wide, six-lane thoroughfare that resembles a highway. I am sure there are some places for which a 25 mph speed limit is appropriate — say, in a nursery-school playground — but not here. Trying to travel this road at that speed feels unnatural and frustrating, like trying to type with mittens.

Okay, why don't you choose another route?

For the same reason I still wear an unattractive, 1960s-era hippie mustache. I do not Knuckle Under to the Man.

Have you paid the fines?

Yes.

Then aren't you knuckling under to the Man?

Things have not gone as well as I'd have liked.

After the second ticket, I decided to try to find the camera. It was on that expeditionary mission that I got my third ticket.

Each ticket has arrived in the mail with a grainy photo of my car, and then, helpfully, a second one zooming in on my license tag, which is clear as a bell — so clear, in fact, that if some righteously aggrieved individual had briefly entertained just the teensiest hypothetical notion of turning a "1" into a "4" with a Magic Marker, he would realize the alteration would be obvious and would probably result in incarceration and possible loss of humor column.

Instead, he is left to marvel at how that same space-age Cold War enhanced photo-resolution technology that allowed our spy satellites to read newspaper headlines on the streets of Moscow, and thus enabled us to keep tabs on the comings and goings of members of the Politburo and track the manufacture and dispersal of nuclear warheads on the Kamchatka Peninsula, can now be used to extort money from drivers having the audacity to travel city roads at the speed of — this is literally true — a hippopotamus, running. But he is not bitter. Righteously aggrieved, but not bitter.

The police claim these speed cameras reduce accidents, and that might be true; but in my experience, the only way to stay below the speed limit on this road is to keep your eyes riveted on your speedometer, which I did, and which is when I almost rear-ended a bus.

Another way is to tenaciously tailgate, because the camera pops you only if you are alone in the pie-wedge-shaped radar zone. I won't say if I tried that, too, but can confirm that tailgaters get flipped the bird a lot.

The Web is filled with the grumblings of indignant, embittered, cackling Wile E. Coyotes who keep plotting to defeat these speed cameras with License Plate Cloaking Devices, pixel-dispersing tools, mysterious shading screens and commercial sprays that are said to create a camera-foiling reflective surface. These are things I would never do inasmuch as They Would Be Wrong and because they were found ineffective by Mythbusters in an episode I have watched twice now, looking for loopholes.

© 2011 Washington Post Writers Group

The cops just keep getting my picture 03/19/11 [Last modified: Saturday, March 19, 2011 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. FHP seeks semitrailer truck driver that left fiery wreck on I-75

    Accidents

    TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an Interstate 75 crash that left another car burning on Tuesday afternoon.

    Troopers were looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an accident scene on Interstate 75 in Tampa on Tuesday afternoon that caused a car to catch fire. [Courtesy of Florida Highway Patrol]
  2. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the warm response from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute were proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.
  3. Three-hour police standoff ends, thanks to a cigarette

    News

    TAMPA — A man threatening to harm himself was arrested by Tampa police on Tuesday after a three-hour standoff.

  4. Jones: Rays' Kevin Cash doesn't mind following in Joe Maddon's steps

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — On this particular night, he's the other guy. He's like a talk-show guest scooted to the end of the couch. He is Kevin Cash. And the Rays manager is standing in the home dugout at Tropicana Field.

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Manager Kevin Cash (L) of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts to action during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on September 17, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images) 700012494
  5. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 139, collapses buildings in Mexico

    World

    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 139 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]