Have I told you the story about getting pulled over by the police right after getting my first car? Some of you know this already. Here’s the short version:
I was 16 years old, it was summer, and Mom and Dad had just bought me my first car (a 1988 black hatchback Toyota Corolla named Cricket). They immediately went on vacation near the Finger Lakes in New York. Far far away from home in Lexington, KY. Corey was I-don’t-know-where, but not living at home anymore, so it doesn’t really matter, and Mel and I were staying by ourselves. One day, I went to pick her up, and on our way home, we got pulled over. I was freaking out, Mel was trying to get me to breathe, and I noticed the police officer look at the back of my car as he came to the window. I knew I hadn’t been speeding (I was a paranoid beginner driver), so I thought maybe I had a tail light out or something. Short version, right. My sticker (the one that has the year on it) looked to the police officer like it had been torn off somehow. I didn’t have the registration in the car (too new, I guess), and he gave me a citation and told me to take care of it. This was before cell phones, so I couldn’t call Mom and Dad, and when they eventually called us (it must have been that night, but in my memory it took them three days), they told me to check the mail for the registration and sticker. Nothing yet. The next morning, I was on my way to pick Mel up again, and as I made a left turn out of our neighborhood, I got pulled over again. As the police officer got out of her car, I saw her check the license plate just like the last guy, so I had the citation from the day before in my hand when she got to my window. I explained everything, showed her the citation, told her I was taking care of it, and she let me go. But this was traumatizing. Pulled over twice in two days, for something that I maintain was not my fault. John wants to know why I was driving the car without the registration and I can only claim ignorance. Registration? Stickers? My parents gave me the keys. I didn’t ask any questions. End of story: the registration came in the mail, I put the sticker on the plate, and took care of the citation downtown. I’ve never gotten a ticket (that one I thought I’d get from the red light camera in DC never came), and I’ve only been pulled over once (for rolling through a stop sign in my neighborhood), and the deputy sheriff let me off with a warning.
Fast forward to today. Right after I left work, I mean right after I left – it was after the very first turn I made – I heard the whoop of the siren and saw flashing lights. I pulled over. The very nice Deputy Sheriff Diaz came up to my window and told me my registration is expired. I said something clever like, “Oh?” He asked me what I thought he was pulling me over for, and I said, “I thought maybe I” stop talking stop talking stop talking “ran that stop sign.” Damn. I’m incapable of shutting up. Thankfully, he said “No, you were fine there.” And then I remembered that I had to wait for traffic to clear before making that right, so I must have stopped. Anyway, he asked for my registration, and I went rummaging for it even though at this point I knew damn well I hadn’t renewed it. John and I had just talked about it a few days ago. Why didn’t I do it then? Whatever. I played dumb a little and discovered last year’s registration. It expired in May. Ouch. He took my license and sat in his car looking up whatever they look up that takes so freaking long. I was watching him in the rearview mirror and after a while, I saw an unmarked car with lights going pull up behind him. What the hell? Did he call in for back-up? What’s going on? Since I was staring at the flashing lights behind me, I didn’t see him come back, so when he appeared at my window again, I jumped a mile. He apologized for startling me, and I gestured to the unmarked car. “Do we need back-up for this?” He laughed (thank God – I really should just shut up) and said there was an accident a little ways back. Doesn’t explain why that guy showed up here, but whatever. It wasn’t for me. Anyway, he gave me the citation, told me I could either pay early or go to court, show my renewed registration, and there’s a 90% chance the judge would drop the charges. I’ll see how much the fine is and then decide. Then he told me to drive carefully and he sent me on my way.
About 4 miles closer to home, I looked in my rearview mirror to see another county sheriff’s car change from the left lane into my lane. There went the whoop of the siren and the lights. I pulled over. Guess what? He looked at my license plate. He got to my window, asked for license and registration, and before I could reach for them, he said he was pulling me over because of my expired sticker. Big surprise, although this time I was speeding a little. (Maybe 7 over the speed limit. People in the left lane were going faster than me.) I picked up the citation that was still sitting on my passenger seat and handed it to him. “Sir, I was pulled over for that not five minutes ago.” He checked the time on the citation, checked his watch, smiled a little, and told me he wouldn’t give me another ticket. Damn right he won’t. Can they even do that? I told him I’d take care of it as soon as I got home and spent the rest of the drive home half-convinced he was going to radio one of his buddies to keep an eye out for my car and pull me over again.
No more incidents. And my registration has been renewed. How crazy is it that, with one exception, the only times I’ve been pulled over have been for that tiny little sticker AND that I got pulled over twice in a very short period of time in both instances? Totally crazy. Loony bin crazy. Spiders in roller skates crazy.