Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Speeding Ticket

Authorial Mom Sarah here. And it's confession time, and I have to tell you something. I'm so ashamed.

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.


Sara said...

Thanks for sharing, Sarah... I laughed by butt off!

The last time I got a speeding ticket was about 12 years ago. Hope I don't come due anytime soon for another. Here in PA, they tack on an extra $50 to $100 for a catastrophic fund (for those who don't have insurance). So, here it's nothing for a speeding ticket to be $200 or more for going 15 miles over the limit.

Therese said...

I hate that feeling...that just passed a cop, crap, how fast was I driving feeling! It's been a few years for me, knock on wood! As always, love your posts!

Kaki said...

I don't get tickets anymore for three reasons: 1.) I don't speed THAT often (or where I know cops lurk). 2.) I'm old. They take pity--I can see it in their eyes: "Geeze, she could be my mom! And by her expression, I'd guess her life probably sucks--so how can I add to her burden? And 3.) We have magic license plates. By that I mean we pay extra to get Law Enforcement Memorial plates, where the extra money goes to the families of officers slain on duty, and we get plates that prove we're fabulous people who deserve special consideration. If we were to add a Volunteer Firefighter sticker to the back window, we could probably park on the White House lawn. Or not.

...tales from the darkside of the laundrybasket said...

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Proud Spinster said...

I drive from New York City to Boston regularly. I've been doing this since 1995. And from 2003-2005, I would drive from DC to Boston so I am very familiar with the roads of the Northeast corridor.

I never go over 90! I keep it at 75mph but usually pass at 80-85mph.

Two years ago I was driving back to NYC. I was in Rhode Island (BTW, Providence has great S-curves) and just crossed over into Connecticut. A few exits in, I accelerated up a hill and on the way down, saw a Connecticut State Trooper on the side of the road. A perfect speed trap! I knew I was going to be stopped. I wasn't even listening to rock music. I tend to speed when Freebird plays. But on this day, I was listening to an audio book. (Alyson Noel's "Evermore")

Connecticut is notorious for issuing speeding tickets...just ask David Letterman.

My ticket was just over $250. I wasn't angry and didn't give the cop attitude. I just signed the form and went on my way.

Honestly, I am surprised I haven't been stopped before. So if you do the math, $250 divided by 15 years of speeding, averages out to $17/year.

I am now more careful driving through Connecticut. I look for that speed trap each time and no patrol cars have been there since!

Doris Carver said...

Nice story! It happened to me a few times before, too. I didn't notice that I was driving too fast until I got pulled over. Good thing all I got were speeding tickets and not serious injuries.

Doris Carver @ TheAdvocateAttorney.com

Norma Richards said...

It looks like luck wasn’t on your side that day. Well, it’s really a hassle to receive a ticket. The only thing that people can do when it happens is to accept the mistake, take hold of responsibilities, and never let the bad experience ruin your day.

Norma Richards @ Just Bail Bonds

Beatspeeding said...

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