Friday, May 21, 2010




: to punish by a fine whose amount is fixed by the court; broadly : punish

AMERCE translates more specifically to "being at the mercy of," which would make sense in terms of a court-determined fine. This idea of mercy also implies there is some window of time during which one can potentially influence "the court", or the powers that be, to one's benefit.

I am...sort of good at this—no where near the expertise of my mother, who has somehow talked her way out of every speeding ticket with which she has ever been threatened. My mother advised me always to "play dumb," an act at which she is eerily adept. She is by no means a dumb person, but she can evoke a "deer in headlights" look as quickly as I can roll my eyes. And this works repeatedly in her favor. Of course, there are several people out there who may perceive she's a total ditz, but in the end her wallet, amongst other things, is a bit heavier for it.

I have never talked my way out of a ticket. I have always just obliged by whatever the officer, sir said, and patiently awaited my AMERCING, hoping for some leniency, but rarely receiving any. I actually didn't get pulled over while driving until I moved to Rhode Island when, in a period of six months, was pulled over for: not completely stopping at a stop sign (bull shit), going 32 in a 25 (bull shit), and not having my front license plate attached to my car (fucking bull shit), all of which resulted in $75 tickets. I now believe circumstance was AMERCING me for moving to Rhode Island—a sign of things to come.

Although I am not very skilled at talking my way out of AMERCEMENT, I am pretty good at talking my way into things, like pay raises, grad school, and various romantic relationships. Interestingly, this usually involves some acting as well—playing worthy, playing smart, playing "of course we're just friends I'm not interested in a relationship." All of these things I can do, but somehow I have a lot of trouble playing dumb.* Maybe it's because I feel like I should take responsibility for my actions, learn from my mistakes, pay the $75 fee for my negligence. As though this makes me a better person somehow. I suppose I just can't bring myself to contest a fee that is, for all intents and purposes, fair (?) despite its ridiculousness.

*Although I must admit I occasionally pretend I don't know things that I do know for the sake of continuing a conversation.

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