Monday, July 30, 2012

The Vacation That Keeps on Costing

A favorite part of our afternoon routine is Mail Call. Our mail is delivered late in the day; more than once it was delivered after 6:00 p.m., but usually arrives between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. It is thoughtful of our mail carrier to work until deliveries are completed. I just wonder if there should be additional carrier(s) assigned in our town. But I realize the postal service, like so many big bureaucracies and corporations, is in financial straits.

However I am getting off subject…so one day recently hub and I congregate in the kitchen to review the mail. Usually we receive all junk mail – catalogs, advertisements from area stores, tantalizing credit card offers from local and national banks, airlines, stores, etc. Occasionally a magazine arrives we actually subscribe to and want to read. Then there are bills. I have transitioned to the electronic age, so most bills arrive via e-mail. Once in a long while we receive an invitation, thank you note or some other piece of real correspondence.

The other day I opened a business size envelope that I immediately jumped to the conclusion was junk mail.

I was wrong.

I took out the letter and glanced at it. It was a ticket – a speeding ticket. What caught my eye immediately was the place the transgression occurred: The New England Highway. I looked at the date – April 26th.

Wait a minute. We were in Australia. We were not in New England…

Then it hit me. The New England Highway is in Australia. We drove the road from Brisbane to Sydney during our Australian vacation.

A camera caught our rental car in the act of speeding. The New England Highway meanders through rural countryside and small towns. There are signs announcing lower speed limits as drivers cruise into populated areas. Hub, who was driving, missed the sign as we entered this particular community.

We were not barreling through the neighborhood at 90 mph. The speed limit was equivalent to 30 mph; we were driving about 40 mph.

Apparently the local municipality traced our vehicle to the rental car agency. The company willingly supplied our information. Then it was just a matter of time before the ticket was issued and sent halfway around the world.

We could challenge the ticket – in person. We quickly decided it was not practical for a number of reasons:

·      The driver must appear in person to contest the ticket. It would cost thousands of dollars to fly to Australia and go to court.
What would our defense be? We were speeding…
Hub has just a couple of vacation days left this year. It would be impossible to fly across the Pacific, appear in court (on a week day) and fly home again without using his remaining vacation time plus a couple of additional days.
We could ignore and not pay the fine, but I want to return to Australia someday. Hub has a vision of a large picture of himself with a line through it strategically placed at all Australian customs windows. He would be handcuffed and marched off, required to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars in fines plus penalties and interest for being overdue by several years. And who knows about jail time?

·      The rental car company has our credit card information. If we do not pay, the charge may suddenly appear on our card anyway.
  Our name may be given to Interpol. Who knows where or when our next encounter with foreign, military, police or other powers might occur.
A black mark may be placed on hub’s permanent record.
So we paid the ticket - $215. Not exactly small change.

And so our Australian Adventure, in a way, continues…


  1. Oh, dear, that is just sad. How much do you think you contributed to the GNP with your tourist $$ already? Still, best not to be an "ugly American."

  2. The vacation that keeps on giving . . . but look at it this way -- as a percentage of your vacation budget, it can only be a tiny fraction, so not worth getting upset about.

    Btw, I love your idea of the post-election quiet period. Write a letter to your representative.