In the Fast Lane
I admit it. Not that I was bragging ~ I wasn’t really bragging. But a few times lately, I may have mentioned the fact that I haven’t gotten a speeding ticket since 1978 or ’79. Just mentioned it because, lately, a couple of people have acted like they thought I drive fast.
Anyhow, I guess that was a mistake, mentioning it. Because ~
Wednesday morning, I’m driving up I-65, on my way to work. Listening to John Mellencamp on my CD player, just cruising along, enjoying life in the fast lane.
So when I see the flashing lights behind me, hear the quick blast of the siren, I think, “Oh ~ I better get out of the way.” And I start to change lanes. Only ~
~ He starts to change lanes right behind me. And I think ~
“Oh, shit,” and he kind of gestures to me, and I pull over , with him right behind me, and I stop the car.
Now, I gotta tell you, when I get stopped by the police ~ and it doesn’t happen very often ~ but when I do, I am immediately convinced that they’re going to find out there’s a bench warrant on me, one that I didn’t know anything about, and they’re going to arrest me on the spot.
Take me to jail.
Strip search me.
So I’m terrified.
Sitting there with my hands on the steering wheel, keeping them in clear sight so he knows I’m not going for a gun or anything, right? Terrified.
And he walks up to the car.
Making sure he can still see my hands, I reach down and hit the button to roll the window down. He leans down, towards me a little.
“I clocked you doing seventy-four,” he says. Grim. “The speed limit here’s fifty-five.”
My heart is racing.
“Now up the road aways,” he says, “the speed limit’s sixty-five. If you’d of been up there, you’dda been fine. But it’s fifty-five here. AND ~”
He looks down into the car ~ “AND ~ you’re not wearing your seat belt!”
I glance down, omigod, he’s right, I’m not, I always, always wear my seat belt ~~ and I realize ~ omg ~ and I blurt out ~
“I was ~ I took it off when I stopped!”
“Why’d you do that?” he snaps back.
“I don’t know!” I say, helpless to explain, horrified at myself.
“I’ll buy that,” he says, with a nod. “Give me your driver’s license.”
Shaking, but still being careful that he can see my hands ~ no gun here, Sir ~ I hand him my license. And wait ~
~ certain that my arrest for something I didn’t actually do is just moments away.
At last, I see him in my sideview mirror. Walking back towards me, a piece of paper wrapped around my license in his hand.
“A ticket!” I think. “Just a speeding ticket! Okay… I can handle that.”
At my side again, he says, “I’m gonna give you a choice.”
A choice? I think. Omigod, it’s a test. Ok. I can do this.
“A choice,” he says. “Which would you rather have? A speeding ticket for $150, and lose four points off your license, and have to go to traffic school? Or a $25 ticket for not wearing your seat belt.” Quickly, he adds, “I know ~ you were wearing your seat belt. But you’re not now.”
I’m in a panic. It’s a trick, right? If I say the seatbelt, then I’m guilty of trying to get him to do something wrong, right?
So, shaking, I say, “Well, I deserve the speeding ticket…”
And he interrupts. Shaking his head, he says, “I’m trying to give you a break here…”
and I get it!
“THE SEATBELT!” I say, triumphantly. “The $25 ticket for the seatbelt!” And real quick, I add, “Sir.”
He hands it over ~
and I go on my way rejoicing.
Bought a lottery ticket.
Promised myself I’d slow it down ~ no more than 10 miles an hour over the limit. For sure.
AND ~ I won’t be talking about how long it’s been since I got a speeding ticket any more. Never again.