Monday, February 12, 2018

Behind the Scene at the Blog: "So You Think You’re Not Guilty"

Sometimes, life makes you feel like a character in an old comedy short – in this case, Joe McDoakes. That's him behind the eight ball in the title card above from the same-named movie series.

Here's my self-serving story.

A few weeks ago, I was on my way to the Lorain Public Library (as I often am for this blog).

I was making a left-hand turn onto Broadway from West Erie after exiting the Bascule Bridge. Although the light was green when I entered the intersection, I was stuck there long enough (especially after two eastbound drivers decided to run the light – one driver, a full two seconds after the light changed) that the light changed to red before I could turn.

Over by Lorain City Hall, I saw a policeman turn on his red and blue lights, and I thought, “Good, he’s going to nail that driver who ran the light."

Instead, the cop ticketed me – for running a red light!

I stewed about it for a week. I told my story ad nauseam to everyone I work with, who all agreed that I had a right to enter the intersection, and finish my turn after traffic had cleared, even if the light turned red. I also did some online research (as you can see, no effort was spared), and decided to go to court, rather than just pay the considerable fine.

In court, I pleaded no contest and told my story to the judge. He was sympathetic and reduced my fine to fifty bucks. But with court costs, my fine was still enough to make a grown blogger cry. I also received two points on my license as a souvenir.

I still think I did nothing wrong and wished that I had pleaded innocent.

So, you're probably wondering – what does all this have to do with nostalgia?
Well, the whole story reminded me of a hilarious "Joe McDoakes" comedy called So You Think You’re Not Guilty (1950).

In it, Joe McDoakes gets a red light ticket as the result of a malfunctioning traffic signal. He’s really innocent, but the policeman doesn’t believe him and gives him a ticket anyway.

That’s actor George O’Hanlon (the voice of George Jetson)
behind the wheel as Joe McDoakes.  
Joe fights it in court, creates several outbursts at his arraignment, and ends up receiving contempt of court fines of over a thousand dollars.
He gets his jury trial, but the deck is stacked against him. (One of the prosecution’s eyewitnesses is a blind man with a seeing eye dog.) The traffic light is set up in court as an exhibit as well, and works fine now. As a result, Joe is found guilty, and sent to city jail. There, his cellmate forces him (at the barrel of a gun) to participate in a jail break – and he is sentenced to prison for ten years!
In prison, in an effort to look tough to the other convicts, he brags that he did run the red light and would do it again with no remorse.
Strangely enough, the warden decides that since Joe finally confessed, he is now eligible for parole – and released.
Back at home with his wife, Joe is happy that life is back to normal. Unfortunately, he ends up driving through the very same intersection with the malfunctioning traffic signal that switches to red immediately after turning green!
Once again, Joe gets pulled over for going through a red light. This time, though, he immediately confesses his guilt to the policeman and frantically tries to pay the ticket right there.

Thus, Joe McDoakes learned that life isn’t always fair, and it’s best to just accept it.

I decided that was a good lesson to remember, lest I end up escalating my traffic case to some similar comic conclusion.

But in the future, I’m not entering any intersection for a left hand turn until I know I can make the light with time to spare.

So be forewarned if you have the misfortune of ending up behind me on one of Lorain’s potholed streets, and I'm getting ready to turn left at a traffic light. You might want to have a magazine handy.


-Alan D Hopewell said...

Man, that blows; looks like the LPD hasn't changed much.

Miss Maggie said...

When I was younger -- and reluctant to enter an intersection because I didn't think I would clear it in time-- if some impatient bully behind me honked, I would risk it. Now? I Don't Care! I won't enter the intersection unless I know I can clear it before it turns red.

Dan Brady said...

I'm with you, Maggie!!! Thanks for posting!

KoHoSo said...

What you need is a common-sense change in the law. Here in California and throughout the western states, if you are across the stop line to make a left turn, when the light turns yellow and the intersection is clear, you can then legally make your turn...and, if so many run the yellow that it turns red, you are still OK to turn as those now with the green are legally bound to wait for the intersection to clear. Seriously, if that were not the case here, people would never turn left as so many folks fudge it on the yellow that nobody trying to turn left would ever be able to clear the intersection before the light turned red.