I’m reading a really good book right now by an author who was formerly a drug addict, an alcoholic and had an extensive rap sheet. I’m realizing how beneficial a life of crime and dependency could be to spicing up one’s writing.
Alas, this realization isn’t going to benefit me much. I’m pretty sure I could never be an alcoholic, because, to really drink efficiently and problematically, one has to stop speaking and imbibe the alcohol; I’ve always been far more interested in what I’m talking about than in what I’m drinking! I never took drugs because I was afraid of my father, an Army Officer, and after he passed away, I was 38 with 5 kids; much too late for recreational drug use (although I’m not opposed to the occasional Ambien, every now and then.) Unfortunately, I’ve also never been arrested, but, I have had several stimulating brushes with the law that I can certainly write about…
I recently had “contact” with the Edmond Police Department. Or rather they had “contact” with me. What the police department is now referring to as a “contact report” is what the rest of us refer to as a “warning”. That’s the second time in the past month I’ve skated away with a warning. Just last week, when I was driving Tommy to basketball practice, I saw those familiar flashing lights in my rear view mirror.
I always get super rattled when I get pulled over. You would certainly think, with all the speeding tickets I’ve gotten, that I would’ve worked through this by now, but apparently not. I never know quite where they expect you to pull over. If they teach this at driving school, I wasn’t paying attention. (I’m paranoid because I was once chewed out by a cop who didn’t like where I pulled over.) It would be more efficient if they would get your attention and then pull in front of you, and pick the spot where they’d prefer to conduct their business. This time, I chose an Arby’s parking lot. I was thinking Arby’s. I start fishing around for my driver’s license and proof of insurance, as the Officer struts up to the car. The main thing I am thinking is, I wasn’t even REALLY speeding. But I know it’s his word/technology against mine. (I remember last year, when I got a ticket for running a red light and decided to contest the ticket. This was based on years of hearing people say, “90% of the time the officer doesn’t show up in court and you get out of the ticket!” Not in my case. I walked into the courtroom and there was my 10%er, Officer Friendly. When my “case” came up on the “docket” he proceeds to display a dashboard-camera video on a large screen, of me, bigger than Dixie, in my bright red suburban, undeniably rocketing through a red light!! It was indisputable, even for me; I pled no contest and paid the fine.)
By far the most memorable experience I ever had, with local law enforcement, was my “CHRISTMAS SPECIAL RUN-IN WITH THE LAW”, when I was returning home from Midnight Mass and I was literally pulled over by a CONVOY of cop cars. For reasons known to all large families, we had split up into two cars for Mass, so this particular evening, it was just me and the two small boys. Jimmy was in a separate car with the girls. Both of the police cars had their sirens on and lights flashing. They were quickly joined by a third police vehicle, with his siren blaring and lights flashing. (They must’ve wisely radioed for back-up when they saw it was a mother and two small boys in a red Suburban.) 5 of the officers started to walk around my car with flashlights scrutinizing every inch, while the lead officer approached us shouting, “Do not under any circumstances attempt to exit your vehicle!!!” It was all very SWAT-style. I like to tell people he had his gun drawn but the boys say that isn’t true, that’s just how I remember it. The officer asks me where we have been over the past hour. When I tell him we have been at Christmas Eve Mass, I actually feel like I’m lying or covering up a crime and I’m not exactly sure why. At that point, 10 year old James, exclaims joyously from the back seat, “Here is the song sheet!!” He proudly produces the sheet of Christmas Carols that our church specifically requested we leave in the pews, after the service, for other worshipers. After a quick review of the evidence, the officers seem appeased and inform me that my vehicle matched the description of a recent hit-and-run. Without even so much as an apology or a stinkin’ “Seasons Greetings,” they release us. James later tells me that he thought they pulled us over because he stole the song sheet. It wasn’t long after, that Jimmy and I decided perhaps the big red burb was too ostentatious and it might be best if I raced around town in a smaller, more discreet, vehicle.
Back to last week: As I produce the required documentation, the cop dispassionately informs me, “you were going 52 in a 40 Mam”. I immediately apply what I refer to as my “Speeder’s Math”. (I always allow myself 9 miles over the posted speed limit, as conventional wisdom has it, that they usually don’t bother ticketing violators at less than 10 over.) So, I calculate that I was going roughly 3 mph too fast. I’m thinking it’s silly that he chooses to waste his time and mine for just 3 miles over. Then he asks me, “any reason you’re speeding tonight mam?” Again, silly… I don’t know why they ask this. Isn’t everyone’s answer the same? I’m in a hurry!!!! ( I don’t say that though.) Then he starts the writing process, which takes him longer than it took me to write this blog post. Not to be snippy, but I am running late here.
After what seems like an eternity, he produces a small yellow piece
of paper and tells me that I am receiving a “contact report” in lieu of a ticket!! Yay!! As I pull away, I tell Tommy that I am “the Luckiest Woman alive!”. Tommy disagrees; He informs me that he is now 4 minutes late for practice. “Where is the luck in that?” he asks. I don’t bother explaining to the boy how much hot water I would be in if I got another ticket. (Jimmy informed me, after my last ticket, that I needn’t worry about our insurance dropping me, I needed to worry about HIM dropping me!! ) This is more information than a 14 year old should have about his Mother…
…but, the truth of it is, until I sign a lucrative book deal, I’m going to have to strike a complicated and delicate balance between living the kind of exciting life that produces exhilarating writing material and getting DROPPED by my CARRIERS!!