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Stories about breaking the law!

Speeding To Judge You

, , , , | Legal | October 16, 2021

I underestimated how long it would take me to get ready for an important meeting. I was moving a bit slower than usual and was running late. I admit to speeding a little on the highway to try to make up time, though I made sure not to tailgate and to pass cars at a reasonable speed so it wouldn’t be too dangerous. Unfortunately, that wasn’t good enough, because I got pulled over by a cop.

The cop did all the standard cop things, asking how fast I was going, and for my license, etc., first.

Cop: “And where are you headed?”

Me: *Laughing nervously* “Oh, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

Cop: “I’ve heard plenty of unbelievable things before. Where are you going?”

Me: “Is it that important to know where I’m headed?”

Cop: “Please tell me.”

Me: “Okay, fine. I’m going to meet the child I donated my kidney to for the first time.”

The cop’s face almost immediately hardened in a look that pretty much screamed, “I can’t believe you would make up such an obvious lie to get out of a speeding ticket.” From there on out, when he talked to me it was with a more brisk, almost angry voice that screamed his disbelief.

Cop: “You’re saying you donated your kidney to a child you didn’t meet?”

Me: “Yeah, it was non-directed. The hospital picked him and I wasn’t allowed to meet him until after the surgery. They have the surgeon and a camera crew and a bunch of other people there to film the meeting, so I really don’t want to be late.”

Cop: “Well, looks like you are going to be late.”

The cop then took his time to give me a ticket, one that was a substantially larger fine than any ticket I’d ever gotten before or after, and which managed to single-handedly put enough points on my license to put me in danger of getting it revoked if I got any other tickets for a while.

I’ve since talked to some friends who were police. They told me that it’s standard practice to lower how much over the speed limit someone was going when pulled over on the highway because everyone drives ten to fifteen miles over the speed limit there, and most cops agree it’s not fair to hit someone with such a huge fine just for going the same speed everyone else was going. Ten mph over the speed limit on a highway just isn’t as big a deal as doing it on a small local road, after all. But in this case, the cop presumably decided to punish me for “lying” to him by not lowering the ticket any. I honestly wonder if he may have also rounded up on my actual speed, considering how huge the fine was.

To add extra irony, when I finally got to the hospital, they basically made me sit and wait for another hour and a half before I actually got to meet the kid, so I was rushing for nothing. The kid was cute, though, and it was nice to finally meet him.

This Is Why I Don’t Ride A Bike

, , , , , | Legal | October 14, 2021

On my first day of a holiday to Austria, I rent a bicycle. I hit the back of a car at five km/h and fall off my bike. The driver is an Austrian woman. I am a British man. To be fair to her, I was using my phone to navigate, and I was on the road instead of the cycle lane.

She starts shouting in German.

Me: “Sprache sie Englisch?”

Driver: “Why are you cycling on the road?”

Me: “I’m not injured, thanks. I have never been to this country. What happens when there is a collision?”

She produces a form, all in German.

Driver: “We both have to complete this form for the insurance.”

She points to a five-centimeter scratch on her car.

Me: “Crime of the century. You can have my name and address, but I will not complete a legal document in a language I don’t understand.”

Driver: “I will explain it to you. Look, this—”

Me: “No offence, but I can’t trust you to translate it independently. You’re biased.”

Driver: “But Austria is a German-speaking country! Why don’t you speak German?”

Seriously? I start thinking of the psychological and historical reasons why I, as a Brit, wouldn’t be interested in German.

Me: “This situation didn’t really feature in my holiday planning. Who produced that form? Have they an English version?”

Driver: “But Austria is a German-speaking country!”

After a while, we’re going round in circles. She is getting frustrated. I’m searching for any way at all to end the stalemate.

Me: “No disrespect, but I will not complete that without an independent, human translation. I could get sued for a lot of money if I don’t understand what I am signing. I’m on holiday here and I can wait a very long time.”

Driver: “What German do you know?”

Me: “Since you asked, I can say three things. I can say, ‘Du bist ein löffel.’”

Driver: “I… I am a spoon? Where did you learn this?”

Me: “School. My teacher had a strange sense of humour.”

Driver: “I… Anything else?”

Me: “Yes. ‘Mein luftkissenboot ist voll mit alle,’ and, ‘Möchtest du ein darmspülung.’”

Driver: “I… I, what— Do you know what this means?”

Me: “‘My hovercraft is full of eels,’ and, ‘Would you like an enema?’”

Driver: “Nein, danke?”

Me: “That’s from The Big Bang Theory. Is this of any use in understanding the form?”

Driver: “I’m calling the police!”

Me: “You do that. Maybe they will translate.”

Ten minutes later, a car with “Polizei” on the side arrives, and two tall, beautiful blondes in their early twenties get out. 

Cop #1: “What happened?”

Me: “I hit her on my bike, and I won’t complete the form because I don’t understand German.”

Cop #1: “That form is to report the accident to her car insurance. That’s normal in Austria. Are you a resident here?”

Me: “No, I live in Wales. What does the form say?”

Cop #1: “I will translate it.”

She goes through the form line by line while I complete my details. Meanwhile, [Cop #2] and the woman get heated.

Me: “If this is about me can you summarise?”

Cop #2: “She says you were on your phone, but I don’t care because that is not a crime. Not unless you were in a call.”

Me: “I would not get this sort of service at home.”

Cop #2: “I think you understand the danger.”

Me: “I have another question about traffic laws, please?”

Cop #2: “Yes?”

Me: “Is the cycle lane compulsory or optional?”

Cop #2: “The special bike route is mandatory.”

Me: “That’s called a ‘cycle lane’ in English. Are you saying you have the power to punish me just because I cycled on the road when a cycle lane is available?”

Cop #2: “Yes. I could make you pay a fine for that.”

Me: “At home, I would have had a lecture about cycling with a phone, and the cycle lane wouldn’t have existed in the first place.”

For the rest of my trip, I found that Austrians, both the authorities and the people, always answered a straight question. Advice was only offered where it was needed. I felt very safe and very happy to the point that I would live there.

Don’t Be A Pawn In Her Game

, , , , , | Legal | October 12, 2021

My husband likes to go to pawn shops to buy tools and guns. I usually come along just to browse, and I usually don’t find anything of interest. I have recently gotten into sewing and I happen to spot a higher-end sewing machine in really good shape with all the accessories and manuals on one of our visits. I decide that it is worth the chance for $200, and the pawnshop offers a thirty-day warranty, so I buy it.

When I get home, I ask about it on one of my sewing groups on Facebook. It turns out that the machine retails for $500 new. Most people congratulate me on the purchase and tell me that I got a really good deal. However, one lady decides to accuse me of buying stolen merchandise simply because I bought it at a pawnshop.

Lady: “Why did you buy that machine?! If you got it from a pawnshop, it is probably stolen! Only horrible people shop at pawnshops! How would you feel if someone stole your stuff and sold it at a pawnshop?”

Me: “What are you talking about?”

Lady: “Pawnshops are notorious for selling stolen goods! The police will come and arrest you if you tell people how much you paid and that you bought it at a pawn shop!”

Me: “Pawnshops are one of the most regulated types of resale shops in the United States! It is actually a felony for a pawnbroker to buy an item that they even SUSPECT is stolen! When you sell an item, you have to present a government-issued photo ID with your address and personal details AND provide a thumbprint as identification! I even had to show my driver’s license when I bought it because they had to create a buyer profile for me!”

Lady: “But people sell stolen items at pawn shops all the time! I wouldn’t trust a pawnbroker!”

Me: “Do you buy stuff on Facebook Marketplace, yard sales, or flea markets?”

Lady: “Yes, all the time. What is your point?”

Me: “Did you know that there is literally ZERO legal recordkeeping of those transactions? You could have easily bought stolen items and didn’t realize it! Pawnshops keep detailed records of who they buy from AND who they sell to!”

Lady: “BUT. PEOPLE. SELL. STOLEN. GOODS. AT. PAWN. SHOPS! You will be arrested!”

Me: “Yeah, right! If it is stolen, as you allege, the responsibility is on the pawnshop, NOT me! I bought the machine under the impression that it wasn’t stolen! Plus, my husband has been dealing with that pawnshop for close to twenty-five years, so they probably did their due diligence on the original owner.”

Lady: “I am going to report you to the police! Your name is [My Name] and you live in [City], [State]?”

Me: “Yes!”

Lady: “Now you are going to jail for buying stolen property!”

The lady DID call the sheriff’s department where I live, but they literally laughed at her after she accused me of knowingly buying stolen property from a legitimate pawnshop! My husband was born and raised here, and being a small town, all the sheriff’s deputies know my husband. The deputy who talked to her is even the deputy who checks pawnshops for stolen items, and he said that they had no report of that machine being stolen, anyway.

I don’t know how she couldn’t understand that just buying an item from a pawnshop DOES NOT mean that the item has been stolen!

A Scammer Gets Spammed

, , , , , | Legal | October 10, 2021

Back when everything first went into lockdown here in the States, my parents’ and my shared Netflix account got hacked. We caught it pretty quickly because not only were all of our profiles deleted but the entire account had been switched to Spanish.

For some reason, however, while both of my parents were kicked off the account and couldn’t get back in, I was not. I managed to not only navigate to the settings page to turn it back to English, but I also managed to copy the new email address that had been put onto the account. 

While my parents got in touch with customer service to get the account back, I hatched a plan. I used their email to sign them up for every political, government, and military-based newsletter I was able to track down over the course of about an hour. 

Was this incredibly petty? Absolutely. Is it possible that it was just a throwaway email? Absolutely. But it was so cathartic and it made my incredibly stressed-out mother laugh when I told her, so I’ll consider it a win.

Walkers Be Warned: Fences Mean Something!

, , , | Legal | October 8, 2021

I have a piece of land next to my family’s farm that is mostly waste ground. The problem is that it is infested with rats, not helped by constant walkers and picnickers trespassing, leaving food waste, and damaging the crops — despite the gates and many signs.

I am out with my shotgun, trying to clear the nests, when I see a pair of walkers in the middle of the field.

Me: “Can I help you?”

Woman: “Oh, no, thanks. We know where we are.”

Me: “Let me rephrase that. You are on private property. You need to leave now.”

Man: “Whoa, I don’t like that you have that thing.” *Points to my shotgun* “Can you put it down?!”

Me: “Down? In the sodden ground? No, sorry, I can’t do that. But it’s unloaded and not cocked, so it’s safe. Again, I will invite you, kindly, to leave this property before I call the police.”

Woman: “But we’re just walking. What harm are we doing?”

I begin ushering them back to the road.

Me: “Seeing as the whole field is fenced in and locked, you must have damaged something to get in. Again, last warning before I call the police.”

Woman: “We have rights! I’m calling the police.”

Me: “Fine, but do it on public property.”

They refused to move. The woman was getting hysterical and the man was being paranoid about the shotgun. I decided to wait for the police.

What happened next was months of legal issues. They lied about being threatened, meaning my shotguns were taken away; luckily, I had camera footage. They denied breaking the fence to get in and I couldn’t prove otherwise.

Eventually, everything was dropped, but I still had to pay for the repairs, and the walkers kept coming and finding their way in. It only stopped after I found their forum and got the moderators to remove all mention of my land under threat of legal action.