I don’t want to call down the evil eye, but I’ve never been arrested, and I’ve been issued one traffic ticket in my whole life.
I remember the ticket vividly. It was 1992. I was living in a small town in Pennsylvania, the kind with one traffic light, a movie theater, a church, a college and a couple bars. I was driving around the lake, coming home from a friend’s house. Suddenly, a policeman sounded his car siren and flashed his lights. “Was he after me?” I thought. I hadn’t done anything.
I stopped my car and waited for the officer. Rolling down my window, I said “Yes, sir?”
“Miss, did you know you went through a stop sign?”
“A stop sign. There’s one at that last block,” he said.
“I didn’t see a stop sign.”
“Well, it’s there, and you’re obligated to stop. I’m going to have to write you up for this.”
“Where is it?” I asked getting out of my car.
We walked back to the intersection. “Here,” he pointed to a stop sign which was hidden by several tree branches.
“The tree is in the way. I didn’t see it.”
Not seeming to care about my protests, he handed me a ticket. Apparently, I owed the city $42.00.
Later, at one of the local bars I’d learn that the stop sign trap was one of the city’s key sources of revenue.
To this day, I feel smeared by that one lousy ticket. I am a good driver; really I am. If it weren’t for that black smudge on my record, I’d have a 100% clean slate.
Recently, a policeman followed me into the thrift store parking lot, got out and approached my car. According to his radar, I was going 55 in a 35 mile district.
“Is there a big sale here, ma’am?” he asked. At least he had a sense of humor. “Why were you going so fast to get to the thrift store?”
There actually was a reason I was traveling 55. About an hour before, I’d seen a brand, new three-piece set of American Tourister luggage for $100.00. I’d just driven home to check out what it retailed for at Kohl’s. (At that point, I didn’t have an iPhone, so I had to go home and look up the price on my PC.) The retail price was $399.00. I wanted that luggage. I guess I was trying to beat anyone out who wanted it, too.
“Well, I wanted to get here so I could buy some good luggage for a cheap price.”
And then, I said something that I’m glad I said. “Officer, I know I shouldn’t have been going that fast. I could have killed someone. I was completely out of line. But officer, I’ve never been arrested, and I’ve only received one traffic ticket; that was 25 years ago. Would it be OK if you just gave me a warning instead of a ticket? I promise; I’ll be careful; I won’t speed again.”
The officer didn’t take my word for it. He asked me for my driver’s license. He then went to his car and ran a check on my record.
He reappeared at my car smiling. “OK, ma’am. I’ll give you a warning, but next time, if this happens again, I’m going to have to cite you.”
I have to say that since this incident, I’ve slowed down. I’m not driving as fast as I was. The warning worked.
What’s the lesson here? Consider using your clean record to your advantage. Ask for a warning instead of a ticket.
But the real moral is, of course, don’t break the law.
(By the way, I got the luggage. It’s the first set of luggage I’ve ever owned. I can’t say it was worth almost getting arrested for, but it’s a pretty darn nice set.)
P.S. The more I think about it maybe that officer’s good nature was an act of karma. I’d been taken advantage of by a policeman before and I’d paid the unfair fine peacefully, and now another policeman was giving me a break.
It was just my lucky day.