I have a confession to make. Today, I was minding my own business driving along on the Interstate when I was pulled over by a State Trooper. I really didn’t think it was me he was after, but I pulled onto the shoulder just in case. It was a good thing I did, because I quickly discovered that the flashing red and blues in my rear view mirror were, in fact, just for me. I have never been pulled over by any officer of the law before, so I felt honored to finally have the experience.
Since I was new at this, I wondered what I should do next. Should I put the car in park and leave it running, or shut off the engine? I decided shutting off the engine would be best so that the trooper, who was getting out of his car, wouldn’t think I was going to make a run for it. Proud of myself for my ability to remain calm and make a command decision like this in a situation that might be frightening or stressful for some people, I turned my attention on what to do next.
Looking in the mirror, I saw him walking up to my passenger window. I had seen enough movies to know that I should remain in my vehicle and simply unroll the window. I pushed the button to unroll it, but nothing happened. I thought maybe the window lock button had accidentally been pressed, so I messed around with that, but still it didn’t unroll.
He was getting closer, so I started pressing all the buttons, but the window wasn’t budging. It finally hit me that I had turned the car completely off, which is why the automatic windows were not being automatic, but my epiphany was a second too late. The trooper, who had reached the window by now, was forced to knock on it.
A tad embarrassed, I turned the key in the ignition enough to be able to unroll the window, and then Officer Johnson (that really was his name) told me that I had been driving 60 mph in a special 50 mph construction zone. I honestly had no idea. I mean, I hadn’t even gotten to the construction zone yet, and I wasn’t driving any faster than the cars in front of me. I didn’t say that, though. I knew if I brought that up he would probably say, “So if all the cars in front of you drove off a cliff, you’d drive off it, too?”
Instead, I kept my mouth shut while he proceeded to ask me all kinds of questions. Maybe he was trying to determine whether I was a habitual speeder, or if I had a really good reason for breaking the law, or if I was just oblivious. I opted for the oblivious defense, because that was the honest truth.
I told him that yes, I lived in the area, and yes, I was aware of the construction zone, and yes, I had slowed to 50 mph a mere hour ago when I had been heading south. I also told him that I had just now come from having a massage and I was feeling quite relaxed and simply wasn’t aware of the first construction zone speed limit sign that I must have missed. I didn’t know if that was going to get me off with a warning or land me in jail for driving under the influence of a detoxicant, but I was surprisingly relaxed about the whole thing.
The trooper asked to see my license and registration and then told me to “stay put” (those were his exact words) while he went back to his cruiser. I hoped that in the process of running my information on his computer he would discover that I had never had a speeding ticket in my life and that he wouldn’t use me to fill his daily quota. I also hoped that state troopers didn’t get paid on commission.
After a few minutes, I saw him start walking toward me with a piece of paper. I figured it was a ticket, and I was prepared to own it since I was, in fact, guilty by oblivion. But the paper was just a written warning. Officer Johnson, bless his badge, must have sensed that I was normally an upstanding citizen and that an early morning massage constituted an extenuating circumstance that made for a solid defense. I appreciated that, but next time I get a massage, I am not going to take any risks. Next time, I am going to bring along a designated driver!