Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Equal Justice

Is there anything that will get your heart to pounding faster than looking in your rearview mirror and seeing flashing blue lights behind you? I don't think that there is, unless it's a train bearing down on you while your car is stalled on the tracks (in which case - GET OUT NOW - THE CAR IS NOT GOING TO START FOR YOU).

I was coming home from a friend's house last night around 9:00. She lives about 25 miles from me and I've been to her house a thousand times in daylight and dark.

And honestly, when the lights flipped on behind me, I kind of figured that he was getting ready to swing into the other lane and go after someone else. Why, you ask? Because I was not speeding, I had my seatbelt on, I hadn't been on the divided highway long enough to change lanes without signaling, I was not swerving, I had not tossed trash out the window, and I had not been drinking. My tags were current, my tires were inflated, and all my safety lights (headlights, taillights, turn signals, brake lights, license plate light) were functioning. As near as I could remember, I hadn't mistakenly left a bale of marijuana on the roof of the car or a dog tied to the bumper, the trunk was not open and flapping. You get the idea. I was being a law-abiding citizen on my way home. Hell, the Kid Rock wasn't even blaring at eardrum pounding decibels.

He didn't go away, so I put on my turn signal and started slowing down and edging for the shoulder, waiting until I passed a turn off so that BOTH of us would fit safely on the shoulder without blocking the side road. I put on my hazard lights and pulled out my wallet to get my driver's license. Rolled down the window and waited.

After a minute, the deputy walked up to the window and shined his flashlight on me and said, "Do you know why I stopped you?"

Since I had already reviewed my list of possible offenses (see above), I looked back at him and said, "Honestly? I have no idea."

"What is the speed limit along here?"

"65, sir." (I knew I was going 65 because I have driven this road for YEARS and I had set the cruise control.)

"No, it's not. It's 55. You just passed a speed limit sign."

"Really? It's been 65 through here for at least the last 16 years. I know it drops back to 55 up there by the red light."

"It was changed. There have been a lot of accidents through here."

"I'm sorry. I honestly had no idea and I did not see the sign. I even had the cruise set," pointing at the steering wheel where the little light was indeed lit up, "so that I wouldn't speed. I'm pretty careful about that."

(No need to mention the last speeding ticket I got cost me nearly $200 and 20 hours of community service and was richly deserved but that was a few years ago and I paid the ticket and did my time and we're not talking about that now.)

"Where have you been tonight?"

"At my friend's house."

"And where are you going?"

"Home, sir."

"I'll need to see your "

I already had my license out the window.

"and your registration and insurance. This is your car, isn't it?"

"Yes, it's my car. Let me get those for you."

"Any tickets or problems that I need to know about?"

I considered telling him my problem of having too much to do and not enough time to do it, or about the difficulty in getting my new kitchen blinds installed, or how sometimes the power cord on my laptop seems like it's not working right.

"No sir."

So, I proceed with the digging in the console for the envelope with the registration and insurance information in it. Since it was buried under CD cases and maybe a couple of Nintendo DS game boxes, it took a minute.

I handed it over and made sure that he could see that the insurance was current. (Auntie Roadchick's helpful tip o' the day: Use a highlighter to mark the effective date and expiration date on your insurance card if it's paper. It saves a lot of time.)

He went back to his car and I sat there. And sat there some more. I sat there for so long that I thought about calling my friend to let her know that I had a lovely evening and oh, by the way, the speed limit on the by-pass has changed, did you know that?

He got out of his car and came up between our cars. I heard a cell phone ringing. It was not mine. It was his. He answered it and proceeded to stand there and have a conversation with who knows who, but eventually making plans to meet up for dinner or whatever.

I waited some more. I waited long enough to start planning my defense in court.

"Your Honor, while Officer What's-His-Name had me pulled over, he stood between his car and mine and conducted a personal cell phone call while standing on the side of the road, detaining me." (This probably would not make a bit of difference especially since I was GUILTY.)

Finally, he hung up and came back up to the window.

"Well, your record is clean and I'm not going to ruin that for you so I'm letting you off with a warning."

"Thank you - I really do appreciate that."

"You pay attention to those signs and be safe."

"Yes sir, thank you."

I stuffed the paperwork back in my purse, turned off the hazard lights, put on my turn signal, checked my mirrors, and merged back onto the road, paying very close attention to the 55 mph speed limit.

A minute later, he caught up with me again and passed me in the left lane. I was obeying the speed limit. He was not. (He had dinner plans, remember?)

I glanced at the cruiser as it went by and grinned.

A few minutes later, we were both at the red light and he was next to me. I rolled the window down and waved until he rolled his window down.

"Sir, I hate to tell you this, but your taillights are out. Would you like me to follow you back to the station for safety?"

(I had debated yelling "Citizen's arrest! Citizen's arrest! just like Gomer Pyle but had wisely decided against it.)


"I'm serious. You have no operational lights on the back of your car."

"Pull over up there."

"Yes sir."

The light turned green and he hung back until I was in front of him, then he flipped on his blue lights again. We pulled over. He got out and walked behind his car. He was back there for a long time before coming up to my window. He didn't look happy.

"Ma'am, I appreciate you telling me that. The station is not far from here, so if you wouldn't mind following me back there . . . "



Jerene said...

Oh, that made my day! I can totally picture the scene. I would have loved to have been in the back seat to witness that one.

Deb said...

What a great story! You told it well. I wonder if he ever made it to his dinner plans.

Roadchick said...

Jerene~ And I would've loved to be a fly on the wall inside the station when he went in and had to explain what just happened!

Deb~ Thanks for stopping by! I have a feeling he was at least a little bit late for his plans, but that's ok because all the stopping and following made me late getting home again.

Susan said...

I seriously wish you'd started screaming at him.

Sheila said...

OMG!!! You never fail to crack me up completely. This, however, may be one of my all time favorites.

I'm telling you - you need to go to work writing comedy sketches or something.

Miss You!

Roadchick said...

Susan~ I debated it, but since I am not a Fun Girl from Mt. Pilot, I decided I probably would not get away with it.

Sheila~ You do realize that these things only happen to me, right? *g* Miss you too!!!

heather said...

don't you just love instant karma?

Roadchick said...

Heather~ sometimes, yes. Yes, I do. *g*

Autrice DelDrago: said...

You rock. Do you ever get tired of me saying that?

Annie said...

What a great story! Autrice, you "done" good to share this on your blog so non-regular visitors like me could enjoy. Toni's right, Roadchick - You Rock!

Roadchick said...

Autrice~ It's my goal in life to get you to say it. *g*

Annie~ Great to see you! I try. Sometimes I succeed.