Knock Knock. Who's There? Not Funny Traffic School

I’m not a super cynic, but I often can spot a scam when I see one. I don’t believe that I’ll get a free computer if I send 20 emails to my friends, I don’t think the world will end in 2012 (but thank you, Jack van Impe and Roxella, thank you very much for your efforts), and I don’t believe in the Dislike button on Facebook.

Which is why I surprised myself when I fell for the old ‘comedy club traffic school’ scam.

I recently got a speeding ticket and had to go to traffic school to get the points taken off of my permanent record. I figured it was relatively inexpensive and my time is really not worth squat, so it seemed like the right thing to do. About a week after I sent in my ticket with the box marked “I intend to attend traffic school,” I suddenly started to get a plethora of mail from lawyers and traffic schools.

The first day there were five postcards for traffic schools and one letter from a lawyer. I am not wealthy, connected, or bad-ass enough to warrant communication with an attorney, so I nervously held my breath as I opened the first letter.  I relaxed a little bit when I read, “Dear Sir/Ma’am,” and then continued to read about how this particular lawyer had “chosen not to develop a slick marketing leaflet, but rather to send you this simple explanatory letter detailing my services.”  (The services included a GUARANTEE that I would not be found guilty.)

The next day I received another half dozen traffic school postcards, four more letters from lawyers, and some slick marketing leaflets, as predicted by the first lawyer. One law firm’s letter included a $5 off coupon. Many included key Spanish words like “No Se Demore!” Some had clever phone numbers like 1-800-CITATION. After a week, they were sleazing up my mailbox, even the ones with the photos of the dark suits standing in front of that shelf full of scholarly books. (I suspect the books were hollow and the lawyers were not wearing pants, below the camera view.) I couldn’t toss them into recycling fast enough - no demore!

The traffic schools were even worse. I was having a hard time believing that the state of Florida, the county of Palm Beach, and Pam, my car insurance agent, would recognize them as legit. They all had little cartoon mascots and big bubble fonts, obviously desperate to get my attention.  One said, “Why read? Choose our 100% online audio course!” I’m not sure I wanted to be on the same list as people who weren’t willing to read words in order to clear their driving records.

I picked The Improv - you know, the comedy club chain? Yeah, well, the stand-up comedy business must suck, because they’re now offering traffic school. Their ad promised to make me laugh while I melted away all three of my points.

It was an online course (dammit - I was hoping for a two-drink minimum and a nightclub atmosphere while I took the class. I made up for it by putting on lipstick, dimming the lights, letting a cigarette burn nearby, and drinking two glasses of wine.) I paid the fee and started in on Unit 1 and very soon realized that The Improv Traffic School is not funny. Not even a little bit.

They took a stab at it by inserting comic strips at the end of each section. Most of them star this Fabio-like superhero who flies around delivering physical brutality and clever plays-on-words to drivers who follow too closely or coast through stop signs.

Maybe when they said it was going to be funny, they didn’t mean ha-ha funny, but weird funny. As in, “Isn’t it funny that I haven’t as much as smiled while attending this Improv Traffic School . . .”

Here’s an example of the Improv’s idea of traffic humor: When warning against drinking and driving, this is added as an aside: “. . . Not to mention that you can end up going home with a person who looked like a ‘super model’ and then miraculously transformed into a troll.”

The Improv Traffic School slays me.

Here’s another cricket inducer: “Florida drivers ranked 28th, with an average score of 78.6. Way to go Florida. But then again if you knew the remaining 21.4% of traffic laws, you wouldn't be here. Or was it just bad attitude? Just kidding. Let's take a closer look at this test . . .”

I did laugh out loud once. In a section on how to prepare for a car crash, we were advised to clean all the junk out of our cars. “If a pen can go through the front windshield, it will go through your head.”

I don’t know why, but that just struck me as pretty funny.  Maybe it was the two drink minimum.

Thank you. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I’ll be here all week.

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