I got a speeding ticket. While driving.
Oh, but that wasn't the worst of it. No, the worst of it was that my 96-year-old grandmother and 6-year-old son were in the car.
I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. Well, maybe certain Middle-East dictators who shall remain nameless.
So here's what happened. I was transporting The Kid to St. Louis, where he was going to spend a fun-filled week with his Mimi and PawPaw. The benefits of this were obvious--he would get to eat Drumsticks at 9:30 at night and get whatever toys his little heart desired. And when that got old? Water guns in an 89-degree hot tub. The good times never stop!
But it wasn't just for The Kid's benefit that this trip was being undertaken. You see, my wonderful sister was marrying a wonderful man on Memorial Day weekend in St. Genevieve, MO (which is about a 6 hour drive for us), and we were all invited. (Details on that later!) My Gram is the only surviving grandparent. Did I mention that she's 96 years old? Well, she can't travel with as much vim and vigor as she used to. So I was also going to take her down to my Mom's house (Hi, Mom!) in order to break the long drive into more manageable stretches. So there was that.
But that wasn't the best part. The best part was that I was going to get a little mommy vacation. For four wonderful days, it was just me and my husband. If we didn't take The Kid down, I'd have to take time off of work. That would cost me money. And time is money. It was worth it to me. I was working on line edits for both my own book, A Man of His Word, and my grandmother's book, Eleanore Gray. I needed the time.
So there we are. The Kid and I drive down to Gram's house, we load in eight (count them, EIGHT) of Gram's bags into the car, and head out. First, we leave the driveway. Then we turn left, take an immediate right, and find ourselves cruising down a hill. Gram is, um, talking to me enthusiastically (read: yelling at me), and The Kid is demanding I open his water bottle. I'm mentally gritting my teeth about the fact that I have two more hours in the car with this fun-loving pair.
Perhaps I just wanted to get to the passenger exchange site faster. Perhaps, in twisting to retrieve the aforementioned water bottle from The Kid, I depressed the accelerator more than normal. Perhaps I just had it coming--I haven't had a speeding ticket since about 2 months before my own wedding, nearly 10 years ago. Some would argue I was due.
Whatever the twist of fate, I look up to realized I'm going 42 miles per hour on a residential street as I pass a cop car. Oops.
There was that optimistic 10 seconds after the cops passed me where I thought, "Not it," as I brake with enthusiasm. Then I seen them turn around in my rear-view mirror. This is where the delusion sets in--maybe they just got another call and they're responding to it, right? That little bit of madness lasted for about 4 seconds--right until the lights came on.
The moment those lights flashed, I knew that I was, in fact, "IT." I pull over and curse my luck. Meanwhile, The Kid is cheering--yes, actually cheering--in the back seat. He thinks this is awesome. Field Trip Cool. He's bouncing in his car seat--hey, at least he was fully buckled at all times--telling me what's happening in real time. "Mommy, the cop is walking up to the door! Hey, there's a second cop! He's walking up on my side!! Mommy, the police are HERE!" Cue excited giggling.
At the same time, though, Gram is going the complete opposite direction. She's not quite in tears, but she's getting close. I haven't even handed over the license and registration, and she's 'shoulda, woulda, coulda'-ing me. "I should have made you look at my flowers. You should have gone the other way. I shouldn't have given The Kid that water bottle." And so on, and so on, and so on.
The Kid was correct. There were two uniformed officers there to bust me down to brass tacks. Collectively, they weren't as old as I am. I think they were still in Jr. High. Really. The one taking my info was perfectly polite, but his partner stood on the passenger side of the car, legs apart, arms crossed, GLARING at my little-old-lady Gram and happy young son. Apparently, those two had a real dangerous, Bonnie-and-Clyde look about them.
So I got my ticket, get back in the car. I hear about how the last time Gram got a ticket--while my grandfather was still alive, so we're talking late 70s here. She had to pay $30. She offers to pay my ticket while I locate the fee list on the darn thing. Turns out that going 45 in a 30 (I was speeding, so I didn't feel that arguing the 3 MPH was in my best interest) will set you back $125 these days.
Upon this revelation, Gram gets closer to tears. I decide this is a 'teachable moment' for The Kid and explain that she will NOT pay the stupid ticket. I made the mistake. I will accept the consequences, etc. etc. etc. I will pay my own speeding ticket (thereby negating the monetary gain of taking The Kid down early so I wouldn't have to take the day off). Needless to say, I'm not in an especially good mood.
But I'm not going to let it ruin the rest of the trip. We are GOING to Mimi's house, by God, come Hell, high water, or traffic infractions. We get as far as Bowling Green (half an hour south) before Gram reveals that she was so excited about the trip that she didn't eat breakfast, so we stop. While I'm opening honey for The Kid's chicken-like nuggets, Gram cuts me a check for $100 and shoves it in my purse. The rest of the way down, I hear the shouldas, couldas, wouldas. The rest of the trip is uneventful, and the passenger handoff is smooth. Freedom comes with a price, after all.
Later, my Mom emails me to say that, during a quiet moment, The Kid pulled her aside and whispered, in a real happy, conspirator whisper, "My mommy got a speeding ticket."
All I can say to that is, thank heavens school is out. Otherwise, I'd be the highlight of Show-and-Tell.