Don't believe in Science Fiction.

When I was in fifth grade, I used to go to the local library about once a week. It was an incredibly tiny building near the elementary school, and had only one room full of books. Each time I went there, I would head straight to the back of the building, where a lone shelf held the library's science fiction section. I had no real interest in reading anything else at all at that point, except for Dungeons and Dragons books that the library didn't carry.

My grandma was visiting one weekend and offered to take me to the library. Always anxious to feed my head with tales of interplanetary adventures, I happily agreed. As usual, when we got there, I perused the science fiction shelf. On this particular day, I couldn't seem to find anything particularly interesting, save a series of books that looked like it would be an undertaking to read in their entirety. The books were thick, heavy tomes, and there were a lot of them, enough to fill up an entire row of shelving. I had always noticed them, but had never felt up to the task of reading the whole thing. Since I couldn't find anything else to read, I decided I may as well give it a shot. I figured if it was good, it would be something to keep me entertained for a long time. I checked out the first book in the series.

On the ride back home, my grandma looked at the book sitting in my lap, and began to tell me about how the book wasn't true.

"It's just somebody's opinion," she said, "and you shouldn't believe it."

"I know," I said, wondering why she would think that I would take science fiction as fact. She talked for a while longer about how some people believe things that aren't true, and that I should never believe something just because I read it in a book.

I didn't realize until years later that the reason she was probably telling me not to believe what I read in that book was because she recognized the name of the author. At the time, I didn't know that L. Ron Hubbard was anything other than a science fiction writer. My grandmother, a very deeply religious woman, had probably read warnings about Hubbard's money-making cult, Scientology, and wanted to make sure I didn't end up believing in it. The irony is that many years later, she would send me a Christian inspirational novel in an effort to win me over to Jesus. Too bad I was taught not to believe everything I read.

I didn't read more than 30 pages of the book I checked out. It turned out that despite being able to write a series that filled up a whole shelf, L. Ron Hubbard just wasn't a very good science fiction writer.


An error.

Last night, while driving home from work, I came around a bend and saw a cop waiting for speeders in the dark. I was doing almost 50 when I was supposed to be doing 35, and when I passed him I felt my heart thumping while I watched him in my rear view mirror. He didn't leave his spot, but I saw another cop sitting at an intersection a few moments away from where the first cop was sitting. The light turned yellow, but I had time, so I drove through the intersection. I thought I may have seen the light turn red as I was almost through it, and I worried the second cop would follow me. I watched my rear view mirror, and sure enough, he turned in my direction and started heading towards me.

The cop was far enough behind me that when I followed a curve in the road, he briefly disappeared from my mirror. I considered making a quick turn into a residential area, but I got worried about how I would explain myself when the cop started asking the standard five thousand questions about where I was from and where I was going. I kept driving, and when he got close, I knew it was only a matter of time before he pulled me over for something.

When he did turn his disco lights on, there wasn't a shoulder for me to pull over onto, so I just stopped in the lane I was in. I used to immediately fish out my wallet, insurance, and registration, but I heard they hate that, so I opened my window and kept my hands on the wheel where he could see them.

"You're being pulled over for driving with expired plates," he said, "Let me see your license."

"Oh, I knew about that," I said, reaching over and fumbling through my glove box. They had sent me the thing in the mail, but I hadn't taken care of it yet, thinking I still had a little bit of time. I tend to do most things I'm supposed to at the last minute.

"I don't need to see your registration," he said, "I already know it's expired. It's been expired for 21 days. I just need your license."

"Oh," I said, pulling my wallet out, "I thought it expired, like, today."

"It expires on your birthday," he said, taking my license. "Find your proof of insurance while I run this."

As he walked away, I thought, On my birthday? That hasn't happened yet.

I looked through my glove box, pulling out all sorts of receipts, old insurance cards, and old registration cards. I noticed a burnt CD sitting on my passenger seat was labeled BONGZILLA - STASH, so I started dropping papers on top of it, in case he could use that as an excuse to search my car. I didn't have anything I shouldn't have had, but they've been known to intentionally make a complete mess when they toss the car. The most recent insurance card I had expired a few months ago, and I started rehearsing in my head how I was going to tell them that GEICO completely fucking sucks and doesn't send you proof of insurance unless you request it, even though I paid my insurance last night, which was true.

"Mr. Sailor," he said when he came back, "I've made an error. Your plates aren't expired."

"Oh," I said, taking my license back, "That's what I thought."

"I apologize. Have a good night."

"Thanks," I chuckled, "You too."

In other cop news, I got a call this morning from the detective assigned to my case when I got robbed a few months ago. They caught one of the guys a while back, and I guess he's been locked up ever since. He was originally charged with strong arm robbery, which is a 15-year felony, but made a deal where he pleaded no contest to larceny from a person, a 10-year felony. It turns out the little fucker was a juvenile, so he's being held at a juvenile facility until he turns 17, at which point they transfer him somewhere or something, I don't really know. I'm sort of surprised about the outcome, because generally I don't feel that cops really do that much to actually solve or stop crime, and I almost definitely would not have even reported the incident if somebody hadn't witnessed it and called the cops on my behalf. Now I just find myself wishing I had any faith in the corrections aspect of the criminal justice system. I'm worried that the kid will come out an ever bigger thug than the one he went in as, but I've been wrong about other things, so hopefully I'm wrong about this, too.