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Guilty, your honor February 9, 2007

Posted by dorigo in personal.

I landed in Chicago this afternoon in good spirits, after a uneventful, relaxing flight (that is, as relaxing an intercontinental flight in economy class can be).

The cold did not impair my morale, nor did the Pt Cruiser I got at ACE (I don’t really like those cars, but ACE is the cheapest rental in O’Hare).  However, as I got to Fermilab, and browsed the contents of my mailbox, I indeed suffered a setback.

On my last visit, in December 2006, I had been stopped by the Police while speeding a little, and had gotten a $80 ticket. I had paid for the fine with a credit card form on the Internet, and forgotten about it since, having left the US the same day to Italy.

The card had been refused, for unknown reasons, and the county clerk office had sent me an invoice, which I could not read, being out of the country. One month afterwards, a Judge declared me guilty of not paying the ticket, and raised the fine to $210, notifying the Secretary of State of my crime. Result: my driving licence will be invalidated.

I learned of all this only this afternoon. I will pay in person the fine, but my biggest concern is to have to deal with this issue, while I would rather spend my time in the US dealing with the preblessing of the Z->bb analysis, due tomorrow – and I am leaving back to Italy on Sunday. Of course I will be unable to get a court hearing, so I cannot but plead guilty. We’ll see how it goes with the driving licence – I do not really need it, since my italian licence is good for three months in a row every time I enter the US.



1. Alexander W. Janssen - February 9, 2007

Did you bother to check why your credit-card got refused in the first place? That it rather unpleasant and I would be really mad about the credit-card company.

On christmas I went to a petrol-station to buy some stuff (everything else is closed in Germany on christmas) and found my credit-card refused to be refused. Very awkward, the people behind me in the queue started muttering nonsense like “yeah, look at that guy, golden credit-card but no real money”.
The other day I called up the company and asked what the hell was wrong. They said “Well, you just got this new card a month ago and you nether activated it”. Then I said “But I payed with this card just a week ago, buying christmas gifts?” – “uhh… no explanation about that.”
I wrote that company a letter asking why I get the credit-card in one letter and the activation-code in yet another letter if the card was activated by default, only to learn that it’ll be locked a month later because it was never activated? What if some thieve steels the card from my mailbox, buying lots of stuff with it – it would be up to me to prove that it wasn’t me.
I haven’t got a reply so far.

I’d try to get a compansation from the credit-card company if you’re sure that this wasn’t your fault.

Hope you had a nice birthday!
Cheers, Alex.

2. dorigo - February 9, 2007

Hi Alex,

yes, these experiences can be very frustrating – I have my own collection of endless arguing with the companies for mistakes they occasionally do, which cause trouble and never get fixed really they way they should.

In my case, though, it was probably not the CC company but rather the office of the county clerk that decided to refuse to accept a card with a billing address outside US. That is quite common, in fact. For instance, United Airlines will not issue a ticket if you call them and give a european card. Not even if it is an American Express card.

Unfortunately, there is little one can do.


3. Bee - February 9, 2007

I know the issue with the credit card address – I eventually got an US card to deal with it (comes with an address and zip-code where I don’t live anymore but who cares). Do you have a confirmation of your attempt to pay the fee, maybe that helps?

4. Fred - February 9, 2007

Lo! T Racer,

Guilty! … but with two stars.

Your wife probably considered you because you like to drive fast.

Ricky Bobby in “Talladega Nights” was also stripped of his license.

Is preblessing a type of ritual?

5. dorigo - February 9, 2007

Yes Bee, I always thought about getting one, but since I have a debit card already, I usually am fine – but last time I had too little funds on it to pay for the ticket. And I do not really want to spend my time trying to show how unlucky I have been… I just hope that paying the increased fine will settle the issue. Usually that does it, things run smooth in this country when money is supplied.

Hi Fred,
I do not just “like” to drive fast, it is rather a built-in reflex, very hard to mitigate.The fact that in 20 years of reckless driving I have never had an accident or even got close to it, makes it quite hard for myself to use reason when I’m at he wheel.

My wife is scared by my driving, but she does not really know how I drive. It is not an observable thing, because when I have company I drive much, much more quietly. The presence of the observer biases the observation process, as in quantum mechanical processes.

Preblessing is indeed a kind of ritual… More on it in another post from today.


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