Memories of the infamous “bulls##t ticket”

Saw an interesting story the other day. It’s about a man who wrote a vulgar message on the memo line of a check he submitted as payment for a $5 parking ticket. According to the account, a bunch of clerks were offended by the message and a disorderly conduct charge was filed against the man. Here’s what the man’s attorney had to say:

“The F-word isn’t what it used to be,” attorney Keith Williams said. It doesn’t have a sexual connotation anymore and so can’t be considered obscene, he said.

Pretty funny, right? Well, to me, it’s amusing for another reason: I can relate. Yes, about 10 years ago I did something equally brilliant stupid. I was driving back to my dorm after a late hockey game. I believe it was around 3 or 4 a.m. I was cruising along and noticed a dark vehicle tailgating me. The car’s headlights were off. Nervious, and too tired to mess around, I hit the gas on my 1987 Ford Mustang and left the guy in my dust … well, for a few seconds at least. About as soon as I hit 75 mph, that car’s headlights flashed on. And they were accompanied by other flashing lights — of the red and blue variety. Turns out it was a black undercover highway patrol sports car.

After the whole charade of “do you know how fast you were driving,” “license and registration” and “sign here,” I was fuming. Man was I livid. I had about $200 to my name at that time, didn’t work much, was in school full time, and I had been set up by some shady police work.

So when I wrote the check for $75 to pay for the ticket, I paused, looking at the memo line. A lightbulb went off in my head. “I should write down my true feelings about the ticket on the line,” I thought to myself. So I did. I wrote the words “bulls##t ticket.” I tore the check out of the booklet, admired the words, and inserted the ticket and check into an envelope to be sent out the next day.

About a week later, I recieved an interesting letter back from the court in the jurisdiction in which I was ticketed. There was a note on official letterhead, saying that the clerk was offended and the judge had required me to be present on my court date. Oh yeah, and the original check, with the words “bulls##t ticket” still emblazoned on the memo line, also slid out of that envelope from the court. I probably still have it somewhere.

“What am I to do?,” I asked myself. “I’m not some kind of tough guy. I’m not somebody who can withstand the public humiliation I am sure to endure in court.”

So I did what any other self-described pansy would do: I got a lawyer. It ended up costing me another $100 (leaving me with about $25 in my shrinking account), but I didn’t have to show up in court. And I learned my lesson, too.

I feel your pain, David Binner, 45, of Doylestown, Pa. I tried to fight the law, and I wussed out, too.


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