Sunday, March 02, 2008
My Run in With the Fuzz
About thirty minutes ago, I was driving home from a card game that did not go well for me or for my dad, who sat in the passenger seat as we moved along Clinton River Road, over M-59 and by Utica Ford II Sr. High. Bluegrass music supplied the background to our conversation about the evening's exceedingly bad luck.
The road was deserted. Bold darkness shrouded all things beyond the reach of my headlamps, and I asked aloud to myself what the speed limit was. I knew that farther down the road the speed limit was 40 mph, but a vague memory told me that closer to the high school the limit was only 35 mph. A moment later, a speed limit sign confirmed my suspicion, so I set the cruise control at 35.
No more than twenty seconds elapsed when a patrol car came up behind me with its lights flashing. I looked down at my speedometer, and I was relieved to see that the needle was set, dead on at 35.
I changed into the right lane and slowed down so that he could pass me, but he pulled in behind me instead.
"He's after me," I said.
"Looks like it," my dad replied.
"What'd I do?" I asked, and I was utterly at a loss.
"Don't know," he added laconically.
I slowed down more and looked ahead for a place to pull off. However, there was no shoulder and no side streets within sight, so I just stopped in the right lane.
That's when my heart started pounding. I wasn't drunk, but I'd consumed three beers over the course of the three and one half hour game, the last one finished no fewer than thirty minutes prior. Oh Jesus, I thought to myself. He'll smell it on my breath.
We sat there for probably a minute, but it seemed like ten. I knew that the officer was running my plate, which wasn't a problem. The problem was that I had no bloody clue why I was being pulled over.
While I wondered if I was seriously being pulled over for doing 35.5 mph in a 35 mph zone, the officer finally exited his car and approached my open window.
"What's wrong?" I asked too quickly to be just casual.
"Headlight's out," he said, adding "License, registration, and proof of insurance, please."
"Sure thing," I replied--again just a tad too quickly to sound comfortable.
I already had my driver's license out, and my dad and I were shuffling through the documents in the glove box for the registration and proof of insurance.
I located the registration quickly, but the insurance card that I produced was expired.
"This one's not the most recent," I said to my dad as he sorted through the remaining documents.
"Here," he said as he handed me a card. I looked for the expiration date: January 24, 2008.
I figured that I'd hand the officer what I had while I continued to look for the new insurance card, but with scarcely a glance at my license etc., he spoke almost immediately.
"Are you going to get it fixed?" He asked.
"Oh yes," I replied, "first thing tomorrow."
"Then you're o.k.," he said. "Besides, I don't know if I could give a ticket to a guy with a Ron Paul bumper sticker."
"Alright, awesome! Thanks!" I said--again, too quickly, but this time sounding relieved instead of anxious.
With that, he returned to his car, and my dad and I headed for home.
"I think that Ron Paul just got me out of a ticket! Now we just have to hope that we don't get pulled over by another cop before we get home" I proclaimed gleefully.
When we returned home, my wife was just on her way to bed.
"We got pulled over on the way home," my dad said to her.
She actually glared at me and half-barked, "For what?" For she figured that I had been speeding.
"We have a headlamp out," I said in my righteous defense.
Instantly her look changed. She tilted her head, shrugged her shoulders and chuckled as she said, "Oh yeah, I meant to tell you about that."
(I think that I'm going to make her change that headlamp herself.)