Over time, the rush I got from hearing, “Sir, please step out of the vehicle” began to dwindle. By the age of twenty I had read a few books on persuasion and decided next time I would reason with the officer. A well blended mix of cockiness and inexperience allowed me to believe I could do it. After all, it has been done before.
According to my sister, within her first year of driving she has been pulled over nearly twenty times without being ticketed. It became something of a long running joke within our family.
“Why are you late for dinner“ my mother would ask.
“Oh, I got pulled over again. But he didn’t give me a ticket, just a warning. I was doing 70 through a school zone with one headlight. All he said was ‘SLOW DOWN‘ and let me go.”
Maybe she had uncovered some kind of Police Whisperer technique. She could get pulled over drunk, hand the officer a bloody knife and confide in him “lets keep this between the two of us” before leaving him smiling in a cloud of dust.
My dad purchased a year membership of legal insurance before my first year of college. The basic concept is that you pay a monthly fee to a company, and if a legal situation arises they provide representation. From then on, it seemed as if my sister and I were in an all out competition to see who could drive our parents to the brink of sanity. When I ran a stop sign, she ran a red light. When I was T-boned by an out of control pick-up truck at a gas station, my sister collided head-on in an intersection with a Jewish woman in a Lexus.
I would call checkmate for a moving violation I received shortly after college. The charge was ‘Disobeying the orders of a police officer while driving on the wrong side of the road.’ If you read into the charge, it was like the chicken and the egg.
“Were you already on the wrong side of the road when you disobeyed his orders, or did you drive on the wrong side of the road against his orders?”
There was a fire truck in the middle lane blocking the entrance to my apartment complex. I pulled in behind the fire truck and waited for it to move. When it didn’t, I waited for oncoming traffic to clear before I proceeded down the left side of the road. I drove past the fire truck, no problem. Ahead, a pool of sapphire crumbs sparkled in the road, and further still was a car trapped under an 18-wheeler. The deflated vehicle peered out from under the trailer, as sad and dominated as a poodle inside the clutches of a love drunk rottweiler.
Over the radio, I heard a voice holler out, “HEY!” I didn’t notice anything until I looked into my rear view, where a reflection filled the rear view. A police officer was pursuing me on foot. By the looks of his wild gesturing, we was instructing a plane for landing or signaling me to pull over. I drove into my complex and parked in my usual spot near the front, rolled the window down, and waited to see what all the commotion was about. The officer approached in a lunging full-out run. The articles secured to his belt crashed upon his thighs as he galloped toward me. Something told me to put both hands on the steering wheel.
“DIDN’T YOU HEAR ME YELLING?!” he shouted, stopping short of crashing into my door.
He was panting heavily. Before I could answer his question he screamed “LICENSE AND REGISTRATION….NOW!”
A piece of spittle blasted from the officer’s mouth onto my pants.
“What’s the problem, officer?”
“WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!”
“I'm not sure what you mean? I live here.”
His voice took on a robot-like quality. “THAT IS A MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT. YOU CAN NOT DRIVE INTO ONCOMING TRAFFIC! LICENSE AND REGISTRATION. NOW!”
Upon producing both items, he snatched them from my hand and ran back to the scene of the accident. I had groceries in my car, seat belted into the back seat like a couple of toddlers. After ten minutes alone I seriously considered taking the ‘kids’ inside for a bath before peeling off their skin and boiling them alive. I began to wonder if I should I just put a note on my car telling the officer where I went. “Dear Officer, I got hungry." No, I can be patient.
He kept me waiting for about twenty more minutes. When the officer returned he questioned my sobriety, and I informed him that my own stupidity was to blame. He returned my license and registration with a ticket. Before parting ways, he offered some last minute advice for me to chew on.
"Next time, don't be so stupid."
Isn’t that what the ticket was for?
I read the ticket aloud after dinner that night, overemphasizing each syllable. The words were scribbled lividly upon the back of the citation, “MR. PELL-E-TIER EN-DAN-GERED THE LIVES OF MY-SELF AND OT-HER DRI-VERS WHEN HE CARE-LESS-LY…”