I’m not allowed to drive in Memphis anymore. The reason behind this edict is two costly traffic tickets I received in the mail, neither of which I believe were warranted.
The most frustrating part of the ordeal is that I received the tickets a week or more after the alleged violation. Nothing spoils your day quite like opening some mail to learn you’ve been nabbed for “running a red-light.”
The “ticket” from the City of Memphis includes a picture of my vehicle in the middle of the intersection with the red-light shining brightly above. It also provides a web address you can visit to watch video of your “violation” online.
I am a million miles away from being considered a technical genius, but even in my limited abilities, I could easily change the color of a stoplight in a photo or video via Photoshop or iMovie. I’m not saying this is what’s happening in Memphis. I’m just saying.
I’ll readily admit I have an issue with stopping. My late father-in-law S. Gale Denley once said “Joel has a lot of confidence in his brakes.” That’s a very accurate description of my driving style. When my wheels start rolling, I don’t like to stop until I reach my destination. I’ve always considered stop signs as a suggestion.
I slow down, so much so that I could stick out a foot and stop my vehicle Fred Flintstone style, but I can’t say I come to a complete stop unless something is coming. If the view is wide-open, I’m more guilty than anyone of the rolling-stop. I admit it.
That was the case with the first violation in Memphis. The ticket claimed I didn’t come to a complete stop at a red-light before making a right turn. I can’t say it isn’t accurate. I looked in all directions while rolling up to the light and saw nothing coming in any direction, so what’s the harm in a right turn – right turn on red, remember.
The more recent accusation came with a picture of me in the middle of the intersection with a red-light above the vehicle. But it wasn’t red when I crossed the stopping point. It was still yellow. I could have stopped at a yellow light, but no, like most red-blooded Americans I tapped the gas to get through the light. I was always under the impression that green meant go, red meant stop, and yellow meant hurry up it’s turning red.
My biggest beef with these costly tickets is the fact that a hard-working public servant, manning his patrol car, didn’t catch me rushing through a caution light. It was some Communist-like computer system spying on my driving technique. That just seems un-American to me. I always considered Memphis a patriotic city and yet they are using this evil video system to try and catch all of us crafty drivers.
So there is my dilemma. I love Memphis. I’ve written often of all its great attributes from The Rendezvous, to Chef Kelly English and Restaurant Iris, Beale Street, Bumpus Harley Davidson, Elvis Presley and Graceland, Erling Jensen, the River Inn at Harbor Town, Memphis in May, Silky O’Sullivans, Midtown, the Peabody, the Apple Store, Corky’s, Gus’s Fried Chicken, Folk’s Folly, Belmont Grill, the Civil Rights Museum, Sun Studios and so much more.
I have to go back to Memphis. I’m just going to have to let my wife Lisa drive. But that’s okay. She’s adamant she’s a better driver than me anyway.
Email Joel McNeece at firstname.lastname@example.org & follow him on Twitter @joelmcneece