CAMPOut:Fay's Rehoboth Journal
|by Fay Jacobs|
|Law and Order's Special Victims
With Scott Peterson safely behind bars and Michael Jackson's acquital, the country is abuzz with legal groupies. Story after story fixates on those who stray from the righteous, flaunt the rules, and laugh in the face of authority.
Of course, the airwaves (or cables) are filled with this crime stuff (Runaway Bride! Aruba Tourist missing!) so nobody has to cover any real news and find out how many people are being killed in Iraq or how low the dollar has sunk in foreign lands.
The line between news and entertainment (infotainment?) is blurring so badly that real juries are letting people go free because they aren't getting the kind of proof they see every night on CSI. I hope the acquitted Robert Blake is appropriately appreciative of what prosecutors are calling this CSI effect.
And now that Deep Throat has been revealed, the only mystery left is whether or not I have aged as badly as Woodward and Bernstein. Gee, did you look at those guys? Do we look as old as they do?
Since crime is such big news these days, with criminals all over the evening news, I was shocked that nobody got wind of one of the biggest criminal cases ever to hit Sussex County. We are obsessed with criminals and they are us.
It's true. My mate and I did something so heinous, so egregious, so totally against the law that our auto insurance rates skyrocketed, people smirked as they viewed our driving records and we were sentenced to spend an entire afternoon wrangling with the geniuses who work, and I use that term loosely, at the Motor Vehicle Department.
What was this wicked attack against convention, our crime of the new century? You'll be aghast.
The whole sordid affair began when my spouse called me at my office to say we were looking for cheaper car insurance. Okay, whatever.
After getting her new quote she called back, shrieking that she was about to be charged a whopping $75 extra each month because of some serious black mark the insurance company discovered on her driving record.
Okay, she's been caught speeding a time or two but this sounded worse than going 37 in a 25 mph zone in Ellendale.
"The clerk said it was something very, very bad, like resisting arrest, or stealing a car," Bonnie told me.
"What do you mean LIKE resisting arrest? Either you did or didn't." I pictured my mate being handcuffed, thrown to the hood of the Volkswagen and frisked by some surly female trooper.
"Don't you think this is something you might remember?" I suggested.
And if she had stolen a car, why wasn't there a Cadillac CTS in my garage? Stealing a car? I think not.
"The report didn't say exactly what you did?" I inquired.
"No," Bonnie whined, "the insurance company just said that the code for the infraction indicated something really, really bad and I'd have to pay a lot if I still wanted insurance."
Certain this was some bureaucratic boondoggle I drove home, picked up my criminal element and set off for Georgetown.
Ah, Bonnie and Clyde arrived at the DMV. At least when you take a number at the bakery, your wait is rewarded by a bagel. At the DMV, you wait and all you get is attitude. A snippy clerk searched Bonnie's driving record.
"Yes, it's right here," she said. "You were stopped in Bridgeville, got a $45 ticket, which you paid several days later."
Ah, lovely Bridgeville-if-youlived-here-you'd-be-home-now-Delaware.
"It was for unauthorized use," continued the clerk.
"Unauthorized use of what?" I asked. Hell, it was Bridgeville, maybe it was unauthorized use of scrapple.
The woman slowly, painfully slowly, reached for the code book and looked up the offense. With the urgency of a snail she opened to a page and slowly, slowly, walked over to the copier and started printing the information.
"Wait a minute," Bonnie said, with a glimmer of recall.
She proceeded to remind me of our being stopped by an officer under Bridgeville's towering Rapa Scrapple sign and being written up for having a license plate holder that covered up a little bit of the '04 sticker on her car's tag.
"That's it? Unauthorized use of a plastic license plate holder?"
The clerk slowly, very slowly picked the copy up from the copier and painstakingly handed it to us.
There it was: Unauthorized use of an automotive accessory that obscures the license plate date sticker.... Or something to that effect.
I got louder. "Unauthorized use of a little plastic thingy with rainbow colored DOGGY PAWS on it?"
By this time, dozens of sleepy people who had been waiting since Christmas for their ever-lovely drivers license portraits began staring at us, because I was still standing there shouting to the clerk "Our insurance rates are skyrocketing because we bought a decorative license plate holder with red, green and yellow PAW PRINTS on it?"
"That's it," said the clerk, hoping this crazy woman would take her photocopy of the law and go away. "That's it."
But I assure you, that wasn't IT.
Butch and Sundance had to wrangle with several different insurance companies before we found one that would give Bonnie a reasonable rate despite this scandalous driving record. And now we have to go and try to get this absurd conviction off the books, because every time somebody checks her driving record it's going to come up with those terrible words "unauthorized use" and she's going to seem like a smarmy little felon.
So let this be a warning to youand you know who you are who have the audacity to surround your Delaware plates with little personalized license plate holdersthose little rainbow frames, those audacious "Go Eagles" accessories, those patently illegal plate holders advertising your brand of car, your auto dealer, or heaven forbid, your love of animals.
Go ahead and buy those goodies if you mustsome of my favorite stores have them displayed all over the wallsbut please, please put them on the front bumper and not over your damn license plate. We don't want to see you on America's Most Wanted.
Frankly, I'm surprised Woodward and Bernstein missed this one. Hey, maybe there's a book deal here, or a TV show... Paw and Order, Criminal Intent.
Fay Jacobs is the author of As I Lay Fryinga Rehoboth Beach Memoir and can be reached at www.fayjacobs.com.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 7 June 17, 2005