Monday, February 2, 2009

The Most Fascinating Time I've Ever Been Pulled Over

I was eighteen years old. I had just dropped off my older brother at a revolutionary war reenactment at Cantigny, and had to speed the thirty miles back to Skokie for a friend's birthday party.

I was driving a black 1992 Mercury Tracer LTS about 120 miles per hour, weaving between cars on the tollway like a downhill skier slaloms flags, blasting Simon & Garfunkel's collected works, singing at the top of my lungs, with all the windows down.

I was having a great time.

I'm not sure how long he was following me, but it was probably for much longer than he would have liked. When I finally saw him in my rearview mirror, I was understandably pissed-off, but not terrified or anything like that--I'd been through this many times before.

I pulled over to the left shoulder and waited.

When I saw a 6' 4" musclebound black state trooper dressed like Smokey the Bear (but with clothes on) heading toward me, my confidence dimmed somewhat--I think it was his unbelievably erect military posture that did the most damage. And the hat. I think that's why they wear them. Most of the rest of my confidence disappeared as soon as he spoke.
"You were drivin' like a ASSHOLE out there!"
"Why you drivin' so fast?!"
"Well, I'm late for a friend's birthday party."
"That's a piss-poor excuse for goin' 95 miles an hour."
I smiled to myself--he only got me at 95? Thank god...
"I know, but it is the truth..."
"Step out of the vehicle."
I do. He walks back to his patrol car, gets in, closes the door, rolls down the window, grabs a notepad.
"Who's the owner of the vehicle?"
"My dad, I guess."
"John Smith."
"What's his phone number?"
Then he set down the notepad and rolled up the window. Just before it closed, I said something I would never believe I would ever say, if I didn't know that I have already said it:
"Aren't you gonna give me a ticket?"
He rolled the window back down and smirked at me.
"Oh, you won't be drivin'-- your daddy's gonna get a call."
And with those parting words, he blasted off down the highway. I stood on the left shoulder, buffeted by the violent surges of redirected air from the left-lane speeders blowing past me, in sheer disbelief of what just happened, crunching the situation like a Cray supercomputer figuring out pi.
'So...huh? He's going to call my dad? That's his plan? That's his plan!!! WHAT?! He could have revoked my license! He could have given me a huge ticket! Speeding! Reckless driving! He hated me, and he let me get away? It makes no sense!'
I got back in my car and slammed on the gas, merged over into the left lane, and cruised at the speed limit for the rest of the ride to my friend's parent's house. I was late.

I realized my parents would still be on vacation for at least the next week or so and my strategy was therefore a simple one. I never answered the home phone and kept vigilant watch over the ancient answering machine. One day, there was a brief message from the state trooper, asking 'John Smith' to call him back.

I erased it. And I never heard anything about it ever again.


1 comment:

Jim said...

i gotta say, thats a pretty outstanding story. glad to know you've slowed your roll since.