Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Accused

I received an interesting piece of mail today. There among the ads and bills and notices about the availability of Verizon FiOS in my neighborhood was an official letter from a Magisterial District Judge. He wanted to let me know that I was a defendant in a case under his jurisdiction.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

What? I don't recall ever doing anything wrong.

Luckily, he also included a copy of the citation that accused me of breaking the law. I looked through it carefully and noticed that a few things were incorrect.

I was being charged with parking my tan Toyota in a restricted parking area on Greenridge Drive. The fine was $15 plus fees, making the total due around $55.

If you know me or have ever read this blog before, you are probably pretty aware that I own a powder blue Chevy Corsica. I do not (and never plan to) own a Toyota of any color. Especially not tan.

Also, on the night in question I was sitting at home with my wife ordering Christmas presents and watching tv. I have an alibi.

Also, I don't know where Greenridge Drive is located.

It was my license plate number that was written on the ticket. I guess they cross referenced it with my address in order to mail it to me. So my mind started to race - did someone steal my custom PA plate so that they could park in a no parking zone?

I went out to the driveway. My license plate was still attached to the Corsica. Either there was another explanation or this parking lawbreaker was good. Very good.

Then I thought there might be another vehicle out there with a license plate so similar to mine that it could be mistaken for my plate. Even by the sharp, conscientious and capable police force in this county. After all, my plate is three letters, and all non-vanity plates in PA start with three letters (followed by four numbers).

But at that point I stopped caring about solving the crime and started thinking about clearing myself of these charges. I would just call them up and let them know it wasn't me. I mean, look at the evidence. Then I had a better idea.

I asked my wife to call.

She would be able to explain all of the facts of the case without making fun of anyone involved or saying something sarcastic. I, on the other hand, would risk a mandatory court appearance out of spite from whoever answered the phone.

It worked. The officer said that there was obviously a mistake and that she would take care of it. But now I'm afraid that I need to change my license plate so that this doesn't happen again.

How about: SINKRBM. It would be hard to get that one confused. Or maybe: TOYOTA. Could you imagine that conversation? Yes, sir, the officer must have written it down in the wrong spot. We have a Corsica...

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