The car behind me was so close, I felt like I was being drafted by a stock car driver in a NASCAR race. When I focused my view from the rear view mirror, I could see it was a police car.
There were no flashing lights-yet. But I knew it was only a matter of time before I saw some.
The moment I made my turn toward home, putting my blinker on like a law-abiding citizen, the officer made his move. I pulled over, got my license and registration ready, and waited.
The policeman, a townie, asked me to pull up more out of the road. I did him one better, and made a left into a the church parking lot on the other side of the two lane street.
“Do you know why I pulled you over?” The standard question.
The answers I wanted to give ran through my brain. “Let’s see, the town coffers are low?” “You haven’t met your quota?”.
Wanting to avoid a huge fine, or worse, I told the officer,”No.”
Our town’s finest said, “You were speeding. Is there any reason you were driving so fast?”
Not having a wife having a baby next to me, I told him ” no”. I asked him what the speed limit was. He told me that I was going 42 in a 25 zone, and added to effect. “in the rain”.
Further conversation made me realize that the street he had observed my alleged misbehavior was a 15o yard stretch connecting one road to a major thoroughfare in our fair city. It ran behind a strip mall.
My first thought was “Who cares?”. It’s not like there is a lot of traffic or people on that road.
He left to do whatever it is cops do back in their vehicles after they apprehend you on the highway. He returned shortly and said,”Well, I can cut you a break and save you a hundred dollars. I will just write you a ticket for ignoring a road sign.”
Why is it that traffic police always tell you that they’re cutting you some slack. If the man really wanted to go easy, he’d just say, “Be careful in the future. Have a nice day.” (To be fair, I have had officers do that in the past.)
I looked at my ticket, and noticed the 30 dollar fine. I thought,”Well, that’s not so bad.”.
Then I looked farther down the “invoice”, which looked like something a hospital would issue, full of lab tests and syringe charges, and noticed a 51 dollar “processing fee.”
I looked at Dudley Do Right and asked,”So the charge is 30 dollars AND there is a 51 dollar processing fee?” He answered,”That’s right.” I chuckled.
As he drove off, the anger I had suppressed while he was outside my window began to well up. I asked myself some philosophical questions as I sat there fuming.
One of them was,”Why is it that poor saps like me end up with these bogus tickets, while the people who fly down the road on the way to my work and the people who make last minute turns without signalling, causing me to almost fly up their bumper, get a pass?”
This wasn’t the only thought I had concerning the unfairness of it all. I had just come from a community service activity (NOT the kind this officer was used to, the one in which I would have been wearing an orange jumpsuit.)
I had spent the afternoon with students cleaning up a lady’s yard. I was serving my town, not seeking its dissolution.
As I thought about it even more, I realized how phoney my ticket was. The road sign I had purportedly ignored was a “Yield” sign. I had done just that, looking to make sure nothing was coming my way before driving on through.
To the authoritative eye of a policeman, I suppose that turn looked bad. As I made it, my rear wheels had spun. But hey, my tires are onion skins and it had been raining off and on for a week, sometimes bucketing.
Even earlier that day, I had gotten a work van stuck in the mud on a side street. I had parked slightly off the road, with my passenger side wheels barely touching turf. That’s how wet the conditions in our area are at the moment.
I told the police officer that my wheels had spun, stating the obvious, and added that “My car isn’t really a ‘mudder’. Jack Webb told me that his had, too.
The more I looked over my “bill”, and mulled over the date Judge Judy wanted my presence, the more I said to myself, “See you in court!”.
I intend to do a “backatcha”. I may even take a picture of the “Yield” sign.
According to the officer, my “real” crime was speeding. However, he ticketed me for something for which I can easily prove my innocence.
If that doesn’t work, I’m going to plead financial hardship. It’s worth a shot.
It’s incidents with law enforcement like the one I had yesterday which is leaning me toward becoming a full-fledged Libertarian.
Don’t tread one me. I’m just sayin’…