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Stories about breaking the law!

Say My Name, Say My Name

, , , , | Legal | October 22, 2021

I get a phone call.

Automated Message: “This is Amazon shopping, and an order starting with AMZ for $1,100 for an iPhone has been charged to your account. We suspect fraud. Press one to speak to an agent.”

I press one.

Agent: “How can I help you?”

Me: “You called me.”

Agent: “Oh, yes. We show your account was charged $1,100 for an iPhone.”

Me: “Oh, yeah? What’s my name?”

Agent: “What?”

Me: “If my account has been compromised, what’s my name?”

Agent: *Click*

Wow. A Rude Customer Finally Did it.

, , , , , , | Legal | October 20, 2021

My dad was a sheriff’s deputy, and part of his job was to provide security in a courtroom. This included small claim lawsuits.

He would tell me about some of the most ridiculous lawsuits he would stand by and hear while trying to maintain a straight face, such as one idiot who sued his former boss. One day, after getting chewed out by said boss, he dreamed that he’d gotten into a fistfight with him and punched himself in the mouth in his sleep, knocking out a tooth. He thought his boss should pay his dental bill. I’ll let you guess how THAT one went.

However, the most notable lawsuit was this huge, burly oaf who seemed physically incapable of speaking without shouting. He sued (the parents of) a poor, terrified sixteen-year-old girl because she’d mistakenly shortchanged him $20 in a supermarket during a long, tiring shift. The store manager, who’d been brought in as a witness, testified that the man — who unsurprisingly made a scene in front of everyone in the store berating her — was repaid immediately after the girl’s till was balanced and it was determined to have $20 extra. He then stood next to the girl, waving the bill in the air, yelling, “DON’T GO TO [GIRL]’s REGISTER! SHE’S A THIEF AND WILL RIP YOU OFF!” They ended up having to call security to put him out.

Judge: “Okay, you got your money back. Why are we here? And how does this equate to $3,000 in damages?”

Customer: “I’m here for theft and consumer fraud and breach of trust! I deserve $3,000 in punitive damages!”

The verdict? The judge ordered him to pay the court a $2,500 fine for filing a frivolous lawsuit. Meanwhile, the parents had countersued for $1,000 for mental distress caused on their daughter. The judge awarded them the maximum statutory limit of $3,000, adding that the parents should give it all to the girl.


This story is part of our Best Of October 2021 roundup!

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Read the Best Of October 2021 roundup!

This Lesson Really Speeds

, , , , , , | Legal | October 18, 2021

I have submitted a few stories about my father-in-law, including this one. Some years ago, we were sitting on our back porch having a cookout and talking. My husband mentioned that I had gotten my first ever speeding ticket at the ripe ol’ age of twenty-seven. My father-in-law looked surprised.

Father-In-Law: “Really, [My Name]? You’re usually such a good driver.”

Me: “Well, they just changed the speed limit on the road from fifty-five to thirty-five last week. I forgot and they clocked me doing fifty-seven. It’s my fault for not paying attention. I am not sure how this is going to work in court since I have never had a speeding ticket before.”

Husband: “I told her she should plead not guilty.” 

Me: “But that would be a lie. I am guilty. While it wasn’t on purpose, I was still breaking the law.”

Father-In-Law: “No, I agree. Tell the truth. Don’t lie; explain it. The judge might be in a good mood and give you a reduced fine.”

Husband: “Hey, Dad, tell her about your speeding ticket in Georgia.”

[Father-In-Law] told us about how he was going down a highway some years ago in Georgia when an officer pulled him over and gave him a ticket. [Father-In-Law] said he didn’t think he was going over the speed limit but it was kind of fascinating because the officer had a radar gun. This was in the 1980s when these were kind of new in rural areas. [Father-In-Law] had never seen one, and the officer was kind of proud of it and more than happy to show it off to my father-in-law.

When they went to court, [Father-In-Law] started noticing something interesting. The first five people called up were all clocked at sixty-seven mph by that cop on the same road on the same day.  

When they called [Father-In-Law] up:

Father-In-Law: “Your honor, I mean no disrespect, but before I enter a plea, I am asserting my right to see the evidence. I want to see this officer’s proof of training on this piece of equipment, as well as the paperwork of the last time it was calibrated.”

The judge was less than pleased.

Judge: “What makes you think you can demand any of that?!”

Father-In-Law: “Since none of you have noticed, the five defendants before me were all clocked doing sixty-seven. And so was I. I am curious about the cases after me. What were they clocked at?”

The judge immediately calmed down and asked the officer to look at his ticket book. The officer flipped through his book and, with amazement, proclaimed that all the tickets that day were for sixty-seven mph.

Judge: “I never noticed.” 

The judge sat back for a moment.

Judge: “I’ve hated those newfangled things since the day I saw them. I never thought they could be trusted. I’m glad I am retiring soon. Case dismissed.”

He then told his secretary that all tickets that day were dismissed and asked her to see if someone could catch the five previous defendants before they left the building. The officer did shake [Father-In-Law]’s hand, so there were no hard feelings.

As for me, I did plead guilty. The judge said I was the first person who ever plead guilty in front of him. He told me that as long as I kept my nose clean and had no more tickets for at least a year, I was good to go. I haven’t had a speeding ticket since and don’t plan to.

Related:
This Lesson Really Blows
This Lesson Really Bites
This Lesson Really Stings, Part 3
This Lesson Really Stings, Part 2
This Lesson Really Stings

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.