A truly scary story for Halloween

by Mark Pleiss

As the sky turns gloomier and the weather colder, studentsprepare for the scary white abyss of winter, and the day of terrorknown as hallow’s eve.

Simpson College is no stranger to stories of the underworld. Infact, ghost stories of suicides and tragic deaths give Simpson anidentity throughout Iowa and the Internet that most Simpsoncommercials never show.

But such haunts and goblins are no match for what I have instore for you.

For I have been through the seven stages of Dante’s “Inferno.” Ihave endured the most foul four hours man can bear. I have beenthrough Traffic Ticket School.

It was a day like most. Driving a few ticks (10 to be exact)above the legal posting, I found myself on the wrong end of red andblue lights.

The options were drawn out for me: accept my punishment, pay thefee, have it go on my already ghastly insurance bill, or … go toTraffic Ticket School where I’d lose four hours of my life.

After discerning the monetary value of my time, I decided itbest to just take the class and hope only to make it out alive.

I pulled up to the Traffic building around 7 p.m. There, seatedamong the worst society had to offer in the field of minor trafficviolators, I wondered how I had gotten into this mess in the firstplace.

When Officer Dan finally entered a group of 40 or so of us hadassembled. A chubby, grim traffic-enforcement officer, Dan beganthe class with a smile and a bit of wit enjoyed only byhimself.

“You guys are here because you broke the law. But don’t worry,it happens to everyone once. Except for me of course, I’ve neverhad a ticket. The next four hours are going to be a lot offun.”

At that, a 40-person gasp echoed the room. We began by goingaround the room, sharing our stories about how we landed in TrafficTicket School. A few honest souls stated the truth, saying theysimply fought the law, but the law won.

But my hat really went to the majority. Predominately white, age45- to 55-year-old men in for reckless driving. Each of theirstories began the same way.

“I was following this guy, and I guess I was just following himtoo close – I didn’t even think I was – when a cop car …”

I immediately saw through their stories, easily envisioning eachof these poorly-tempered souls raging at a slow driver.

Then it was my turn. All was quiet except for the slight murmurof people clicking their pens and snoring. I stood up and told theclass I was the only person in their that actually hadn’t brokenthe law, it was sheerly a matter of teen-driver racial profiling.Officer Dan chuckled, then told me to sit the hell down.

After we finished our crafty works of fiction to the class,Officer Dan popped in one of 5 movies entitled, “Bloody Asphalt.”This gruesome series gave us a look at the consequences of breakingminor laws on the road can do. Most disturbing was the shot of thedecapitated man who had been going only 10 over.

I don’t mean to make light of these films. I know the dangers ofthe road and the consequences of poor decisions while driving.Thousands are killed every year on the interstate systems. It’sjust hard to relate to a film older than both my parents, andpossibly older than dirt.

Two hours in, I was ready for a nap, but the instructor madesure to remind us sleeping students were kicked out, nullifyingtheir $80 check for the class. All I could do was sit andendure.

Finally, the clock ticked 10:50 p.m. and Dan turned off thefilms. But we still had one more hurdle. We had to take a test.According to Dan, no one had ever failed the test, but I was stillworried I might end up being lucky number one.

Then I read the first question: “T/F, safe driving involvesfollowing the mandated rules of the road.” At that I knew I’d bealright. I finished the test, handed it Officer Dan, thanked himfor his brilliant teaching, and got the hell out of there.

So of all the Halloween stories you come across this darkOctober, remember this: true terror comes from our own ignorance onthe road, not from ghosts, goblins or urban legends about peoplekilling themselves in Kresge.

If you’re having trouble finding a costume, think about being aninstigator of road rage, although that’s not what I’ll be.

I’m going to dress as someone far more frightening: OfficerDan.