Monday, September 6, 2010

A Visit with Officer Friendly

Recently, I was on my way to pick up my mom so she could get some paper work done for a new car she bought. She was waiting for me at a store across the street from the car dealership and I was in a hurry.  What's new?   I was driving a stretch of road that I drive about 4 times a week.  The speed limit is 35 mph., but I usually go a *little* faster than that until I reach the top of one particular hill.  This day, however, I continued my speed until I went over the crest of said hill.  That's when I saw it.

A police car.

I slowed down and passed by and immediately he pulled out behind me.  My stomach sank.  Yet, as his lights didn't turn on, I figured maybe I was worrying for naught.  I waited at the red-light eying Officer Friendly behind me the entire time.  The light turned green and his lights flashed red.

All this within my mother's sight.  Thirty-seven years old and I still dreaded my mother's scolding over the police officer's.

I pulled over and immediately began searching for my license and registration.  I found the former, but not the latter.  I also remembered the conversation my husband and I had the day before about the registration needing to be renewed as it was closed to being overdue.  The officer came to the window and asked for both the items I was looking for.  He looked at the registration on the window and mentioned that it had expired.  No surprise there.  The conversation proceeded as follows:

Officer Friendly:  Do you know why I pulled you over?

Me:  I was speeding. 

OF:  Do you know how fast you were going?

Me:  About 55.

OF:  I clocked you at 59 mph.  Do you know what the speed limit is back there?

Me:  35 mph.

OF:  What's your license look like?

Me:  Clean - never had a ticket.

OF:  So, when I check it there will be no surprises?

Me:  No, sir.

He also hinted that as I was so far over the speed limit, there was little chance he'd be able to let me off.  I knew I deserved whatever I got.  I didn't cry or get mad - just answered his questions honestly and with a smile.  Yes, a smile.  I figure that police officers deal with enough angry and distraught people every day and I didn't see why I should make this poor guy miserable for something I honestly had done wrong.

As I waited for my ticket, I texted my husband.  Might as well let him know now.  While many husbands would have been upset, the response I got was, "Are you ok?"  My husband is awesome.

I spent the rest of the time sweating over what my mother would say.

Officer Friendly came back to the van.

OF:  This would put 6 points on your license and your insurance would go through the roof.  But, 30 miles over the speed limit...that's tough.  I'm going to give you this (a ticket) for your registration being expired and nothing for the speeding.  It won't show up on your license.  You could come to court and argue it, but seeing as I'm not giving you a speeding ticket....

Me:  No, sir!  I'll send it in and pay the fine.  Thank you very much....

And everything YOU would probably say if he had let you off almost scott-free!

In a way, I think it worked out that our registration was overdue as he almost HAD to ticket me for something.  If it weren't the registration, then he would have probably knocked a few mph off my speed, but I still would have ended up with a speeding ticket that would have put points on my license.  Procrastination is not always a good thing, but, in this case...When I went home I immediately got on the computer to renew our registration.  You know when it expired?  The day before.  Hmmm.....

I also think my honesty and the fact that I have had a clean license for my entire driving career (19 1/2 years) helped a lot, as well.  My son later pointed out that I have been pulled over before.  I kindly mentioned that the officer hadn't asked me that. Ahem...

My brother said the Lord wouldn't have allowed me to get a ticket as I was on my way to help our mother.  And, he and my husband both said that thing about pretty girls, etc.  Whatever.

In the end, whatever the reason, I am thankful to God and to the kind police officer for not giving me
what I deserved.  I have experienced so much mercy in my lifetime, yet I could never put into words my gratitude.

I turned my van back on, pulled into the parking lot where my mother was waiting and braced myself as she entered the vehicle.

"I am so sorry,"  she begins.   That's it.  Nothing but compassion.

No ticket.  No scolding.  That's what I call a good day.