Dear California Office of Traffic Safety,
Thanks so much for caring about me. Really, I appreciate it. Not since I was a child, when my grandmother violently scolded me for not buckling up, have I felt the warm glow of traffic safety concern from another human being.
It has been a long and hard road to recovery for me. I remember way back in 2002, when it first began: the irresponsible spell. I was boozing and using and enjoying the company of unclean women when I realized that my empty addictions were slowly but surely not being adequately satisfied. I needed more.
After a long weekend of hard living in Mexico filled with black tar heroin and bouts of bestiality, followed by sobbing in the shower, I got in my car and started to drive.
Halfway down the road I realized I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt. On any other day I would certainly have swerved onto the shoulder, turned off my car and carefully applied the proper traffic safety precautions. But, there was something in that warm Mexican air that told me to roll with it.
I drove almost the entire length of the Baja Peninsula, smoking unfiltered Mexican cigarettes, letting my hair flow in the wind and experiencing a newly discovered sense of ecstasy. As I slowly rubbed my unbuckled belly, full from fish tacos and beer, I knew that I had found my ambrosia. I was addicted to Traffic Safety Disregard.
For many years following, I battled TSD. I couldn’t get enough of it. I would wake up in the middle of the night, needing a fix and run out to my car and just drive around block until I was satisfied enough to go to sleep.
My social life was being controlled by the addiction as well. If I was in a uncomfortable social situation, an awkward party or such, just sneaking out the back and sitting in my running car would take the edge off.
Eventually I couldn’t even make love to a woman unless it was in the unbuckled front seat of my car, driving aimlessly down the freeway, our naked bodies stuck to the hot leather.
My friends, my family and my coworkers all had enough. They performed an intervention for me during a lunch at a modestly-priced Italian restaurant. But the confrontation to get me to stop only made me defensive and fueled my fire. I reacted by trying to find bigger and better TSD highs. I tried SUVs and sports cars. The greatest disappointment was with a commercial airline, where I had hoped to really feel it, only to realize that almost no one had his or her seat belt on.
There was a sense of danger that I was looking for which eventually led me to rock-bottom. My parents had taken away my car. So I stole my little sister’s car while she was at school.
She had one of those old Toyotas that automatically puts a seatbelt on you. This put me in a near seizure of frustration. I needed to not be protected. I pulled out a switchblade that I had been carrying for similar situations and cut that belt right off.
From there I headed back to where it all began: Mexico. Before I had hit San Diego, I caught a glimpse of myself in the rear view mirror. It was a sad sight. I was unshaven, my eyes were bloodshot and the seat behind me was mangled from my violent outbreak.
I wanted to stop. I wanted desperately end all of it. But, I didn’t know how. Then, an angel descended upon me. It came in the form of red and blue flashing lights in my rear- view mirror.
The officer who pulled me over was one of the largest men I had ever seen. If I could have made out his face behind that big handlebar mustache and those aviators, I would hunt him down and give him a kiss.
The officer explained to me that he pulled me over because I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, a growing concern in California and motivation for the Click It or Ticket campaign, or, as I like to call it, the Life-Saving Campaign
That officer gave me some tough love in the form of a $90 ticket. I looked down at the piece of paper I had been given and understood the seriousness of my situation.
Never again would I ride in a car without the proper safety precautions, a life choice for which I give complete credit to the Click It or Ticket campaign. And I feel great.
So thanks, California Office of Traffic Safety. Thanks for not letting me feel the sweet sensation of no Traffic Safety. We all owe you one.
Julian Camillieri is a third-year English major.