Officer So-and-So explained that he was monitoring speed on this stretch of road as part of a grant from Operation I-Forget-What and that excessive speed is a hallmark of aggressive driving (?!) and that he clocked me going 57 in a 40 m.p.h. zone and would I please give him my license and registration.
How was I supposed to know how fast I was going? My speedometer has been broken for, like, going on two years now! I drive by relative speed… but I guess I was relatively passing all the other cars on the road. Curt and I were talking about our days and the next thing you know, BAM.
He reduced the ticket speed to 49 so that I would only have to pay the minimum fine (gee, thanks), explained what the 27 different colors of carbonless copies meant, asked if I had any questions, and without so much as a perfunctory pleasantry, sent me on my way. Next victim. Harumpf.
In a driving career that spans a hundred 26 years, I’ve only been cited for a few moving violations. I am, in fact, a very careful, defensive driver. I don’t take stupid risks. The key to my success is anticipating the dumb stuff that my fellow motorists are about to do, before they do it.
My most recent speeding ticket – my first one – was 11 years ago. I was returning from Baby Boss’s two-week doctor checkup. He was wailing in the back seat because it was way past nursing time. I was hustling home because my coworkers were coming to my house to share lunch and ooooh and aaaah over my new baby. There’s this stretch of highway where cars often run in the exit-only lane until the last minute, then they suddenly merge left. I always felt (and still do) that the safest thing there is to pass this area in the left lane, so as to avoid the idiots who evidently can’t read all the LANE ENDS MERGE LEFT signage. I mean it’s really well-marked.
On that day, the car in the exit-only lane was a police cruiser. I proceeded by him in the left, not at an excessive speed, but a bit faster than he was going (because after all, wasn’t he preparing to exit?), but sure ’nuff, he hopped over at the last minute, behind me, then turned on his lights and pulled me and my screaming infant over.
But instead of introducing himself like tonight’s officer did, he greeted me with a blustery, WHAT IN GOD’S NAME DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING, PASSING A POLICE OFFICER LIKE THAT?? So, I explained my safety-based rationale and asked if we could please hurry because I NEED TO BREASTFEED MY INFANT NOW, IT’S PAST HIS LUNCHTIME. And he was all, I was going 55 and you must have been going faster, ma’am, so I’m writing you a ticket for going 60 in a 55-m.p.h. zone! And I was all, I don’t even know how you can say how fast I was going since you, too, were moving, but my BREASTS ARE STARTING TO LEAK so can we move it along please?? And of course, my postpartum hormones kicked in and the tears started flowing, because how ridiculous was this anyway? But I couldn’t stop it. And I thought I’d heard that officers often have sympathy for a crying woman with a crying baby – especially one whose milk had just let down with a vengeance – but that was not the case in my situation.
Of course I was throwing around all of this breast-talk for effect. Way back when I was mothering infants, I was not given to talking about my breasts. (I’m really still not.) I don’t even like the term “breastfeeding.” It’s too… anotomical. I was nursing, thank you, and I was the model of discretion. But this officer had earned no such euphemisms.
That cold-hearted bastard gave me a ticket anyway. I should have gone to court to fight it, but that was really the last thing on my mind, what with having an infant and a two-year-old at home. So, I didn’t. I paid it.
Not that I’m still bitter or anything.
Still, I think once every 11 years is a pretty good record. For as often as I do exceed the speed limit, I don’t ever drive recklessly or aggressively. Just maybe a-little-too-fastly. Oh come on, you know you do it, too. I was just the unlucky stiff who got caught. This time.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to see a man about a speedometer repair…