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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.

There Is Sadly No Cure For The Programming Bug

, , , , , | Working | October 12, 2021

I’m a software engineer, aka programmer, aka code monkey. I share a cubicle with one other programmer who has a tendency to talk to himself on occasion. He says it helps him focus and he already spoke to me about it. I assured him it didn’t bother me.

One day, while working, I hear him muttering.

Coworker: “Curse you, computer. Why you no work?”

A few minutes later:

Coworker: “Ahhhh. That’s why. Got you now…”

A few minutes later:

Coworker: “But then… why does it work at all?”

I couldn’t help but feel that he had accidentally summed up what it means to be a programmer in those few minutes of debugging. Either it won’t work when it’s supposed to, or you don’t know how it is working when it shouldn’t be.

Some Coaches Are More Hands-On Than Others

, , , , , | Friendly | October 11, 2021

One fall Friday, I took my two-year-old Dalmatian — named Coach, for obvious reasons — to watch my seventeen-year-old son’s football team play another local team. The game was played in the afternoon, so Coach and I easily found first-row bleacher seats near midfield. My son was a defensive back, and with constant player substitutions, I sometimes had trouble figuring out where he was on the field, but not Coach.

In the game’s third quarter, [Son] fielded a punt and started to run upfield before being gang-tackled by opposing team members. Suddenly, Coach pulled the leash from my hand and ran onto the field, literally jumping on top of the pile of players and growling and ferociously protecting [Son]. For a few short moments, it was pure bedlam, with players disentangling from the pile and retreating more quickly than most had probably ever run before on a football field.

I ran, too, straight onto the field, yelling Coach’s name as loudly as I could — confusing all the real team coaches, I am sure. I grabbed the leash and walked the dog back to our bleacher row seat. No one was hurt, thankfully, but a few minutes later, the referee blew his whistle to stop the game and came over to our sideline seats.

Referee: “Mister, you are going to have to move the dog. The other team is afraid to run to your side of the field.”

We watched the rest of the game from the other side of the field, and while it didn’t happen, I truly believe if my son had tried to return another punt, he could have walked the whole way untouched.

There’s Snow Way That’s A Good Idea

, , , , , , , | Learning | September 24, 2021

Every year, my graduate program brings in a crop of new potential students for an “interview weekend.” Knowing that these students are visiting other schools as well, we try to make sure that they not only learn about the program but also have a good time.

One year, we book a banquet hall for a nice dinner on the last night of the interview weekend. It’s a fancy catered meal with current students, potential students, and professors. This particular banquet hall happens to be attached to a major league baseball stadium, though it’s not currently baseball season. From the windows of the hall, we can see the empty field covered in snow while we eat dinner.

[Professor] is the youngest professor in the department, and though he’s a nice guy, he’s constantly trying to show the students that he’s the “cool” professor. After dinner ends, he stands up and taps on his glass for everyone’s attention.

Professor: “I hear there’s been some interest in going down onto the field to run the bases at [Stadium].”

Students: “Yaaaay!”

Professor: “Well, I asked if we could, and they said we can’t.”

Students: “Awww.”

Professor: “But WHO WANTS TO DO IT ANYWAY?!”

He stood up. Immediately, about fifty students stood up, as well, and followed him out into the hall. Admittedly, I was one of them. Hey, if a professor is leading the charge, he’d be the one to get in trouble, right?

He led us on a march through hallways, down stairs, and through doors. At some point, I think we crossed a sky bridge from the banquet hall into the stadium itself, which I had assumed would be locked in some way, but it wasn’t.

During our march, a few of us got cold feet — a passing custodian warned us that we’d get arrested — so we positioned ourselves where we could see the field and just watched to see what would happen.

Apparently, [Professor] and the mob of students were able to make their way right to the double doors that led directly onto the field. A friend of mine says that, in retrospect, he thinks [Professor]’s plan was to get to those doors, show they couldn’t be opened, and lead the disappointed but excited grad students back to the banquet hall.

Instead, the double doors opened. [Professor] turned around, shocked, only to be mown down by a mob of gleeful students that he had unleashed on the empty stadium. From my vantage on the sky bridge, I saw students running the bases, throwing snowballs, and making snow angels in the outfield. Some kind of loud alarm instantly started blaring, and security removed everyone from the field. Our entire department was then kicked out of the banquet hall and told we were banned for life.

I never found out what happened to [Professor]. But I did hear that our wonderful administrators, as soon as they heard what happened, sent flowers and apologies to the staff at the banquet hall. When the following year’s interview weekend rolled around, we were somehow allowed back!

Some People Will Do (Almost) Anything For Time Off!

, , , , | Working | September 23, 2021

A while back, I donated a kidney and so was out of work for about a month while recovering. When I finally went back to work, my coworkers understandably had some questions, and during our discussion, I confessed that I had internally put off the donation for a month so the surgery would happen in the new year, thus allowing me to sign up for short-term disability and therefore allowing me to get paid while I was recovering. One coworker seemed mildly offended by this fact.

Coworker: “But you knew you were having the surgery. Isn’t that like fraud or something to sign up for disability and then disable yourself?”

Me: “Not at all. In fact, I even called the agency to ensure they would cover recovery from a donation before signing up so they knew exactly what I was doing. It can’t be fraud if you tell them exactly what you’re planning!”

Coworker: “So, if I want to take a month off, I can just sign up for disability and then shoot myself in the foot?”

Me: “I suppose so, but here is a radical idea. Instead of shooting yourself, maybe you could try something a bit safer to get disability, like, oh, I don’t know, donating your kidney to someone, instead?”

Apparently, my coworker didn’t want that month of vacation enough to take me up on my suggestion on how he could earn it.