Well, sadly, it happened again, even though I promised after the last time, it wouldn’t.
The “it” would be doing the metaphorical version of standing in front of a toilet and crumpling up, one at a time, Washington after Washington, and throwing each into the bowl. That’s what happens when one is caught exceeding the speed limit.
So, just how many times did I have to crumple? Well, let me answer with a mathematical equation, as in 70 > 55 on 66 = 159.
For the mathematically challenged, that’s going 70 in a 55 on Route 66 equals 159 singletons!
A few weeks ago, on a Saturday on a sun-drenched day and bone-dry pavement and with almost nonexistent traffic (except for the three vehicles that really mattered in this little narrative) while I was heading over to date Lady Jane, indeed, it did happen again. The first time I saw that silver Dodge Charger was seconds before he activated the lights as I was passing over Route 33 just short of St. Marys.
Since I’ve been through this a half-dozen times before, which may sound like a lot but really only averages out to precisely one ticket every 7.7142 years for the one I was certain I was about to get, I wasn’t surprised by the pit-of-the-stomach feeling when I saw the blue flashers activate directly behind me. Trying to get ahead of the game and impress Mr. Trooper with my preparedness that could turn a ticket into a warning, I instantly grabbed my registration and license and awaited the trooper’s arrival at the passenger-side window.
While the tears of some women — and one woman, in particular, who once told me she even added a chest clutch as she told the officer she could feel her heart racing — and histrionics turned some citations into warnings, they weren’t my manly options. I did plead a case I thought had some merit.
I told the trooper truthfully that I had just passed the only car I could see in either lane, so, of course, that overage he said he clocked was understandable. I then told him I was tamping the speed down once completing the pass. His response was both polite and succinct, as in I didn’t tamp it down fast enough.
Of course, there’s no arguing after that. All I had by way of retort can be filed under “Nonsensical Blurt,” and it was something that sounded as lame to my ears as I’m sure it did to his. I actually spread my arms slightly with supplicating palms up and, with my best you’ve-got-the-wrong-guy look, said, “But, officer, I’m no speeder!”
Now, I will tell you that I’m really not a chronic speeder if one were to follow me and observe me long enough, but, given that snapshot of a mere few seconds of my life, the fact is, I was indeed a speeder.
Declaring his intention to cite, he returned to his patrol car to execute the paperwork. While waiting, I played the familiar game, guessing the fine. I was thinking mid-range between a hundred and two hundred and took the under at 149. Bad gambler that I am, I should have taken the over.
After an admonishment to keep the speed down, the trooper’s equivalent of “go and sin no more,” I slowly pulled back onto 66 and continued my journey to Jane’s.
I did a fair amount of thought-cursing first, and then, in glass-half-full mode, also thought about how fortunate I am at the same age as my clocked speed to be able to remember the exact location and the approximate year of all of my traffic transgressions.
Later, I chuckled even more when I shared my criminality with my older daughter, Shannon, when she reminded me of the one ticket she witnessed firsthand. Now a beautiful 40-ish young woman, she was once upon a wonderful time a cute little 10-year-old. After a long day of teaching, I was commissioned to retrieve her from a Girls Scout meeting. While driving home after picking her up from a house in the Westgate subdivision, I got tagged for the one offense of my seven that still offends me because of its nitpicky nature.
I was told I rolled a stop sign while turning, not left but right, onto Cole Street from Latham Avenue. Grumpily awaiting the ticket from a city policeman, I noted little Shannon’s positioning, looking back with elbows propped on top of the front seat, enjoying the red-and-blue pulsating light show. Then I heard the voice of my little girl rendering her very first observation ever about police matters: “I like the blue lights the best!”
And when I was reminded of that moment in time and the instantaneous laughter it prompted some three and a half decades ago, I actually laughed again, this time till I cried thinking of that long-ago snapshot. And, for those of you with grown children who still remember their gap-toothed smiles, their pigtails and their Girl Scout meetings, of course, you’ll understand why I cried.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.