Saturday, September 8, 2007

We have to leave France...

... it's too expensive for all the stupid stuff we do.

Last week my husband got a ticket for running a red light. Before you think he's a bad person, let me just explain that, in France, many lights are:
1. in strange places where there may not even be an intersection
2. very low to the ground on a lamp post next to the street, so a parked car could easily block it.
Well, this light was both of those and he saw it turn red right as he drove past. We were right at the tail end of a group of cars and cars from the other direction didn't come charging past until 5 seconds later, so we thought, "no harm done."
No such luck!
We were pulled over by 3 policemen and 1 policewoman for over 20 minutes so they could charge us the equivalent of $120, tell my husband he was "a very dangerous" driver for driving like that with his wife and daughter in the car, and the final kicker was when they asked, "do you not have to stop for red lights in the United States?"
Needless to say, we were furious. B is a very safe driver and it would've been clear to anyone that he just made a mistake. We were all dressed well, in a nice car, and Love Bug was perfectly secured in the car seat, which they checked liked hawks, by the way. B has never had a ticket before and has also never been pulled over. I assured him that in the United States, it doesn't go like that at all. I got one speeding ticket about 7 years ago and the policeman was very professional. He even laughed at something I said and told me to be careful. He didn't treat me as a common criminal and insult my judgement. The French police have complained in the past about not getting respect, and I used to say I would agree with them.
Now, I'd have to say, "to get respect, you have to give respect."
Our French friends are mad for us and feel terrible that this happened, when we only have 2 weeks left here.
Then, to add insult to injury, I got a speeding ticket in the mail last week, from a stationary radar on the side of the road. It cost the equivalent of $60 and I'm sure you're dying to know at what dangerous speeds I was travelling...
I was going the equivalent of 43 on a small highway where the speed is marked as 40. The worst part, is that a policeman I know in the United States, said that radar guns have accuracy of +/- 5 miles per hour. This is why they would rarely pull someone over for only a few miles per hour over or under the speed limit, simply because there is a margin of error. Not here... don't you dare travel one mile over or you're in trouble! I'll probably get another letter saying how horrible I am and asking, "don't you have to follow speed limits in the United States?"

So, you won't believe my surprise at what I witnessed yesterday. I was sitting at a bus stop, since we have thankfully sold our car now. Right in front of the bus stop is a stoplight. Four cars ran the red light in a span of about 15 minutes. They clearly have a problem with this!

I just sat back and laughed, while the people around me stared at me like I was crazy.
But they're probably right. I am crazy, because I really do love it here. Despite, all the infuriating things that happen, I will miss our wonderful friends, our apartment, our life, and even France itself.


Jacquie said...

Wow that sounds crazy. I got a red light camera ticket once, coming home from a concert one winter. I tried stopping and didn't have much luck. So of course it was $150 for that on top of the $150 concert tickets, expensive night. But the only time I have ever gotten a ticket.

Cheri said...

You can do stupid, expensive stuff all over the world - no just France!

And, relax, you'll do fine with your move. There's only so much you can worry about when you move - you only have so much control. Just accept it, find peace, and enjoy your new home!

Susan said...

Hah! My mom used to live in France and in the 60 and have heard the stories. Sounds like the German police, they are out to get you!!!! People hate the police here too and they really are out to get you. I am waiting to get "Blitzed" or my photo taken by those dumb stationary photo devices too. Sorry it happened but what can you do?

carrie said...


So sorry this happened. I've had 3 tickets in my day, but it's a bummer every time of course. My husband has received quite a few more, but I would still consider him a safe driver!

Oh, the memories you're making--

Leah in Iowa said...

Thanks for your nice comments on my blog lately. Sorry I haven't stopped by very often, but I'm happy to report that my blog reading is back in full swing! =) I'll check back and catch up more with you later!

BTW, the tickets sound totally ridiculous! No wonder the French aren't the most popular with us.