I actually got to see the inside of the beautiful town hall of Cape Town the other day. Unfortunately it was not to explore it, but to go and squash a traffic fine that I got the other day.
Ok, so let’s start at the beginning. I have just moved back to South Africa and have only been driving again for the past year. I usually walk around Cape Town and rarely drive except when it’s raining or when I need to transport things too heavy to carry. It’s a leisurely 30 minute walk to and from work for me and I like walking through the city or the company’s garden after a long day at work. Well, that particular day I had to go to the post office to send 3 packages for various friends so decided to drive.
Not driving these roads often I obviously don’t know where there is one-ways or which streets to avoid. I was driving along, searching for the post office and spotted while waiting at the traffic lights. I immediately put on my indicator and turned into the street. At this point I am looking around to find a parking spot so luckily I have slowed down to nearly a crawl. As suddenly someone slammed on the hood of my car and I slammed on the brakes. It is only then that I noticed the traffic officer and realized that I nearly ran over him.
Feeling like an idiot I apologized and he told he to please pull over, indicating the side of the road. This sounds like an easy activity, well, that is if you are good at parallel parking. It took me a minute or two to get my tiny car inside the parking spot and that is when the traffic officer cleared his throat.
“Miss, do you know why you are getting a fine?”
Me: “Because I nearly drove you over?” Here I still didn’t know that I had violated some traffic rule and thought it was because I wasn’t looking where I was driving.
Traffic officer, looking a bit confused “No, because you disregarded the straight arrow back there”
Me: “What straight arrow, I didn’t see any arrow signposts?!”
Traffic officer: “The arrow painted on the road.”
Me: “I didn’t disregard the arrow, I didn’t even see it. Why is it on the road and not on a signpost? Who looks for signs on the road when driving anyway?!?!
Traffic officer:” Ummm, I am still giving you the fine. ” And that is where I realized I should now just be quiet as admitting that I don’t notice these things, and never actually look at arrows or signposts while driving might not be such a good idea. The traffic officer might just end up taking my driver’s licence away rather than just giving me a fine.
So I sat there quietly while my traffic fine was written out and quietly left without even getting to the post office that day.
This being my first traffic fine in a decade I was quite flustered and couldn’t wait to get it reduced or squashed and paid so that I can just forget about it.
That same week I took the afternoon off to go to the beautiful Town Hall to plead my case and find out if they could lessen my fine.
I had to fill out a form, stating why I think I deserve “mercy” and then explain what happened to an officer. He was quite lenient and the fact that it was my birthday also counted in my favour so the more than halved my fine. All that’s left is getting it changed on the system and paying for it. After standing in line at admin for about 40 minutes I was told that my fine is not on the system yet, and that I should come back in a month or two as it should have been processed by then. Here I am, ready to pay and accept responsibly for my lack of observance and the traffic department is backlogged. Oh well, will just come back for another visit next month.