Someone famously wrote, “The law is an ass”, but I can’t remember who as I’ve never read Charles Dickens. But whoever it was had a point, the law does suck. Especially when it means I have to pay money. And none would have felt the painful sting of those famous words more than I, had I just been thinking of them that day the horror started.
I’d just finished a cheerful, hardworking, honest, true-blue, Aussie taxpaying day when I arrived home to a horrendous sight. There, amongst my mail was a letter from the State Debt Recovery Office. I had a distinct feeling that I was going to lose something.
For christ’s sake what had I done this time? Yet another jaywalking fine? What, is it also illegal to flip off cops I see hiding near traffic light crossings now? Or is this a freaking parking fine? It’s the inner city, come on! Parking illegally is the only way to actually park in the same suburb that you live! What more could you possibly want from me?!
It’s money. They wanted my money.
Three hundred and eleven dollars of it too, for driving in a 24 hour bus lane at 1:12 am across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I was livid. But after emerging from my rage haze I suddenly remembered that I was forced into the bus lane due to roadworks taking place across the bridge.
Well I’d be damned if I was going to let the man take me down like that. 300 bucks?! What kind of sadistic monster would try this on me? It was time to take a stand, a stand against the man, to set a precedent for others to follow. It was about the principle God damn it!
Actually, it really was only about the money. Obviously. The fine also came with a demerit point for my troubles, but if all I got was a few demerit points and no parting of money, I’d be fine (ha!). I might even have driven in a bus lane just to be a badass. I hear the ladies like badasses, although I’m not really sure because they scare me too much.
Well ladies, check this: I’m so badass that once I didn’t even pay a parking fine at all until my licence was suspended, the fine amount tripled and my bank account frozen so the government could garnish the amount directly. Not dissimilar to having an organ involuntarily harvested from your body as you lay unconscious in an ice bath, I imagine. That’s how I felt anyway.
But I wasn’t going to let that happen this time. So armed with nothing but a severe case of passive aggressiveness and my computer, I requested a review like I’d never requested before:
Thank you very much for wasting my time by issuing this fine. But check it again, there were roadworks that night, which forced me into the bus lane. If you’re going to direct me to drive in a bus lane but then fine me for it, surely you could at least give me the courtesy of a big sign saying “Fuck off or get fucked”. That way I could at least decide to turn around instead of going home via the more direct route and have to try and sleep with a sore ass.
Now I know there were 2 lanes next to each other and only one was a bus lane, but at no point was there a sign saying “24 hour bus lane” either. I know this because I also double checked google earth. How am I supposed to know that buses need their own lane even when buses aren’t operating? All I had to go by were some inadequate directions pointing me vaguely to the edge of the road and my own intuition, which I’d thought I nailed by the way, as I made it across the bridge without running down a single road worker. And now you’re trying to fine me for my success?
Why are you even fining me at all when both lanes were empty anyway? Surely if there is no traffic, the whole point of a bus lane becomes redundant. Or does this make too much sense? I mean, what possible benefit would I derive from driving in a bus lane on an empty road at 1 am? Please enlighten me, so I can consider this the next time I’m getting fucked. This fine is absolutely ridiculous and I will not be paying it. I believe the evidence speaks for itself.
Air tight case I thought. And quickly left to buy $311 worth of drugs using the “free” money I just scored.
Unfortunately SDRO had other ideas:
It’s as though they’d simply read the first line of my appeal, decided I was a dick, pissed all over my review, then moved onto their next victim.
Fortunately I work with a bunch of lawyers, so I got some legal advice. It was suggested that perhaps my review request was a little too aggressive, although I didn’t see it. But I did manage to convince a barrister to represent me at court free of charge. So I lodged my application. I was now admittedly giddy with excitement. Not only was I relatively assured of success, but I could bring my sarcastic A game to a court. With a barrister! Over a $300 fine! Talk about wasting taxpayers money!
But then out of nowhere this happened:
Just like that it was over and I was back where I began. I was now more disappointed than when I actually got the fine. But at least I was $300 richer. Oh wait, the drugs. FUCK!
So what’s the point of all this, you ask? No point. I just felt compelled to show you how sarcasm and passive aggressiveness really does work. Eventually. Admittedly it probably would have been over much quicker if I’d just politely established the factual issues with the original decision, rather than, say throwing the verbal equivalent of a pus filled rag at a waiter’s face because the cafe owner charges more on a public holiday. Less satisfying, the first way though.