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Use Your Clean Record to Your Advantage

Thick Book With A Clean SlateI 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.

Use Your Clean Record to Your Advantage

Laura Yeager

Laura Yeager has been writing for over 35 years. Some of her favorite topics include mental health, writing, religion, parenthood, dogs, and her day-to-day life. She is a mental health writer for Her articles about writing have appeared in The Writer Magazine, The Toastmaster Magazine, and Her spiritual writing has been featured in several venues including Aleteia USA, Busted Halo, The Liguorian Magazine, Canticle Magazine and Guideposts Magazine. A graduate of The Writers' Workshop at The University of Iowa, Laura teaches writing at Kent State University and online Creative Writing at Gotham Writers' Workshop in New York.

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APA Reference
Yeager, L. (2018). Use Your Clean Record to Your Advantage. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 6 Nov 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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