Column: Traffic Caught

Column: Traffic Caught


Kenneth B. Lourie

If I were writing this column in Massachusetts – where I was born and mostly educated (K-12), and had a thick Boston accent, that’s how court would likely be pronounced; changing a noun into a verb. But I’m not in Massachusetts. I’m in Maryland, and the traffic court to which I semi-refer is in Virginia, so I’m not “accenting” any “misannunciating,” I’m merely invoking a bit of literary licensing and a double entendre of sorts, in advance of my twice-delayed court appearance, scheduled yet again for this Friday, January 30; and hoping for the feather while ever mindful of the hammer.

Transgression-to-date, the administrative office staff serving the Alexandria Traffic Court has been extremely reasonable in responding to my scheduling challenges. Due to my ongoing treatment for lung cancer, which mostly consists of every-three-week chemotherapy infusions, (same day, same center), every-three-month face-to-face appointments with my oncologist (same doctor, same center) and an every-three-month diagnostic CT Scan (same center; for luck, of course), I am not always in control of my schedule/availability. Moreover, given the nature and timing of these appointments (generally scheduled weeks/sometimes months in advance), especially infusions, which should occur on the same day (my day is Fridays) every three weeks to keep the cycle/protocol where it is supposed to be – meaning not subject to change if at all possible – I am beholden. And as it relates to my “case,” the officer who ticketed me back in November is only in court on Fridays; ergo, the potential for trouble and the need for understanding.

Now, my infusion schedule may change, even though I said it doesn’t. And it changes – without my control (but with my knowledge) – when certain levels measured in my pre-chemotherapy lab work (completed the Wednesday before the Friday infusion) are either too high or too low. When this occurs, my infusion is delayed a week to allow my body to recuperate, while a retest is planned for the following week/Wednesday when the same too-high or too-low potential exists and another week’s delay is possible (this fifth week infusion has occurred once – mostly the delay has been to a fourth week – nevertheless, the potential exists). This is my routine and it is prudent that delays in my treatment occur to allow certain major organs in my body to not be any more collaterally-damaged than they already have been. Such is my life and I’m glad to live it.

However, this unpredictability can cause problems, since it takes precedence over any other appointments, as it has twice already with the Alexandria Traffic Court. Typically, I won’t know my availability until the day before the actual infusion is scheduled (and coincidentally, the day before my scheduled traffic court appearance as well), so I really have no notice to provide; I am a victim of my own circumstances. But this Friday, Court will finally see me in person. No more excused absences – as reasonable and necessary as they have been. It will be time to pay the piper (hopefully not). Planning forward then, should I bore the Court with an abbreviated version of this column, appealing to their generosity of spirit, or shall I just admit my mistake, take my punishment like a man and get on with life? After all, I may not exactly be on borrowed time, but I’m not naive enough to think my clock isn’t ticking.