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Making a Difference

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“Cautious, careful people always casting about to preserve their reputation or social standards never can bring about reform” ~ Susan B. Anthony

I love this quote. I had this quote hanging on my desk at work to remind me not to worry about the preservation of my reputation and do what is right. You see, I’m always getting into trouble. I consider myself a rabble-rouser and I like to ask questions that people may feel uncomfortable addressing. I’m a firm believer in speaking one’s mind tactfully and honestly, while making positive social changes.

As military dependants, we sometimes stay quiet because we don’t want to get our husbands in trouble. Or maybe it’s that we don’t want our husband’s to get a bad reputation for having “that wife”. For me, being outspoken is knowing that I made a positive change for someone else. What’s even better is that I did it while supporting my husband living in Twentynine Palms pushing out babies (because it’s what you do when you’re in 29).

This might seem contrite, but for those of you who have lived in 29, there is a section of road off Adobe on Indian Trails with a speed trap just outside a small shopping center. You yourself may have been caught up in this same area and paid a hefty price. The speed goes from 55 MPH down to 35 MPH on one side of the road for no reason whatsoever. The road traveling the other way is 55 MPH. Almost the entire town has a speed limit of 45-55 MPH, so this 35 MPH simply doesn’t fit. Countless people have been stopped in the little shopping center parking lot where the Domino’s and DMV await. The ticket total is $340for speeders. I avoided this intersection most of the time because of this annoyance, but due to construction on other roads, I got caught in the trap and was consequently pulled over. I decided that this just wasn’t right and started googling to see how I could get out from under this ticket.

A few weeks prior to my court date, I had sent in a written statement asking for my ticket to be thrown out due to an illegal speed trap. In the letter I had researched specifics of what constituted illegal speed traps followed with specific law references. I received back an initial response of no and that I was still responsible to pay the $340. I was still mad and wanted to fight the ticket again. I contacted the court for an official court date and followed up with them regarding a waiver, due to the fact that I was nursing and children weren’t allowed in the courthouse. My court date finally came and when I entered the court room, it was a bit overwhelming due to the amount of people and police officers in there. As soon as the judge saw my baby carrier in my hand, he called out my name and announced that my case was dismissed and I was free to go! I was shocked and amazed that it actually worked! I couldn’t believe that the courts had actually upheld my letter, ruling that the speed limit sign was in fact an illegal speed trap and the sign was taken down.

Now I’m living in San Clemente and am fighting another battle. I’m going up against the city of San Clemente for ticketing cars of people who have been out drinking and take the responsible way home. Yes I received a ticket, but this time it isn’t so much about the $43 price tag, it’s more about being socially responsible (really who gives out tickets for 30 minute parking between 2 and 5am??). I wrote a letter to MADD and cc’d a copy to San Clemente City Hall and the San Clemente City Manager.

I received a response back from the San Clemente Chief of Police asking for me to come in and waive my ticket. But I want more. I want to know that I’m making a difference this time not in just dollars to others like the speed limit sign, but by amending these statutes. Maybe I can possibly save another person’s life because they couldn’t afford or didn’t want to pay the $43 and decided to drink and drive. After discussing my perspective, the police department has asked many of the local bars to waive towing vehicles and have started implementing a system to reward patrons for leaving their car in the lot.  Remember that each and every one of us can make a positive difference in the world.  “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve obviously never been in bed with a mosquito”  ~ Michelle Walker

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