My pristine driving record is now tarnished. I have been driving for around 16 years now, and have never had a traffic ticket. A couple parking tickets yeah, but that’s about it. Before last night I’d been pulled over twice — once on April 7, 2000 (I remember the date distinctly because I got pulled over right around the time my Uncle Frank died), and once in December 2002. Both times I just got a verbal warning. (Actually, the first time the cop had pulled over another car along with me and that car was trying to take off, so…)
At any rate… So we’re still driving the piece of shit rental car (the Jeep needs a new gas tank and the back door has to be replaced and the fine folks at the local garage are really taking their sweet time — isn’t small town life wonderful?) It’s a Chevvy Cobalt — red with NJ plates. If that isn’t a target, I don’t know what it. I hate this car. And one of the reasons I hate it is that if you are over 5 feet tall, it is damn near impossible to see the spedometer because of the position of the steering wheel. So on to last night. My mother-in-law was watching Noah yesterday and I was going to pick him up on my way home from work. I’m in the middle lane on the Taconic (which is a three-lane highway at this point), just following traffic. And honestly I was kind of spacing out. I certainly was not paying attention to my speed. Suddenly I see the old red lights flashing away. I believe I dropped the f-bomb once or twice. More likely it was a variation on the f-bomb. (Those close to me know what my favorite swear is.)
So after getting my car in the absolute perfect place on the grass, thanks to the helpful officer using the megaphone to scream out “PULL OVER FURTHER!” I stopped the car, got my licence out, took off my seat belt because my coat was bulky and I couldn’t reach the glove box, and tried to find something that identifies the car. It’s a rental. Remember? Meanwhile, I’m starting to worry that the COPS camera crew is going to be running over for my close-up. The cop comes over and asks if I know why he pulled me over. I was completely honest. Duh? Why else would I be getting pulled over? He asked for the registration and I explained that it’s a rental and I started getting slightly flustered because I couldn’t even find the rental agreement.
Luckily, the cop was pretty cool and told me not to worry about it. Because I was honest he wasn’t going to give me a speeding ticket. Instead he gave me a ticket for “not wearing my seatbelt” even though I was. (Whether I was or wasn’t really wouldn’t have mattered — seems to be a cop trick that has been used on a few other people I know who found themselves in similar situations — instead of ticketing you for speeding, you get a ticket for not wearing your seatbelt *cough, cough*). But I wasn’t going to argue because I knew I was getting a good deal. The speed limit is 55 and traffic at that point often runs at 70-75. I am sure I was doing between 65-70, so do the math.
Today I’ll send in my ticket, return-receipt required, pleading guilty. I will pay my $50. And I will mourn for my clean driving record which now after all this time finally has a ticket showing up on it. On the bright side, at least this will not result in points on my license or in a visit to traffic court like Drew’s ticket did (his six-part epic begins here — it really is quite a tale, trust me).
But still. Argh.