Friday, February 11, 2011

A Good Day Almost Gone Bad... But Not Quite

You never think it will happen to you. Okay, well, maybe you do. But I didn't. I honestly never thought it would happen to me. Not in the near future, anyway. Maybe in 20 years, which would seem like a different lifetime anyway.

It was a lovely sunny day, and I was cruising down I-40. Then I saw two cop cars on the overpass. They had a speed gun laser, or whatever they call those things. I had already set the cruise control, and I wasn't in a hurry! I confess, sometimes, when I'm in a hurry, I want to push the speed limit, but there was no need this time. I was just having a pleasant, leisurely drive, on track to arrive early at my destination. 

So I checked my speed, just to make sure I wasn't going too fast somehow, and then passed under the overpass, confident in my law-abiding speed. The cops on the bridge radioed motorcycle cops on the entrance ramp, and one of them pulled into traffic behind me and turned on his lights. At first, I wasn't worried. I figured he wanted to get by me to catch someone else. But I changed lanes and he followed. I pulled off the road, and spent what felt like 10 minutes with a sudden case of panicky shakiness. What did I do? Had I actually been going too fast? I thought 70 in a 65 zone was acceptable. People had been passing me for the past couple of miles, it's not like I was leading the speed pack!

The cop walked up, and I rolled down my window. "How are you today, ma'am?" he asked politely. "I'm fine, thank you, how are you?" I replied automatically as my mind screamed, "I WAS much better!" He gently broke the news, "I got you going 77 in a 65 zone." I felt my face drain of blood, my jaw went slack and I think my eyes might have popped out of my head. "What?" I choked out, thinking I must have misunderstood. "I got you going 77 in a 65 zone," he repeated. Cue incoherent babbling from the quivering ghost in the front seat of my car. I think I remember blurting out something about going 70, and that my speedometer didn't say 77. He asked for my license and registration, and I fumbled to pull my license out of my wallet and find the registration in the glove box. "Thank you, ma'am. I'll probably just give you a warning ticket. I'll be right back."

I hardly dared let myself hope for the warning ticket. I spent the surprisingly short few minutes thinking about what sort of penalty I could get if I had to go to court with a speeding ticket of 12mph over the speed limit. Wasn't that a $200 fine? My insurance would definitely go up. Could my license even be suspended? My knees were shaking so hard I vaguely wondered if I would be able to drive away once he was finished with me.

He returned with my warning ticket, explained that they were cracking down on the speeding on I-40, and warned to watch my speed. I thanked him, and asked one more time how fast he'd had me going, just to make sure that I'd heard right the other two times. He clearly said 77mph. I stared at my speedometer, feeling betrayed and mumbled something about fixing it. He informed me that the laser guns they use are generally very accurate, cautioned me to watch my speed one more time, and told me to have a nice day. I thanked him again, wished him a nice day too, and composed myself with several deep, shaky breaths. 

Then I thanked God, watched the motorcycle cop pull around me and take the next exit, and pulled into a clearing in the traffic. And wouldn't you know, it made me about 5 minutes late.

Later, we checked the speed of my Volvo with the speed of our Suburban, and then Daddy got a GPS for Christmas and we checked the speed with that too. Apparently my speedometer is about 2-3 mph slow, so I was going about 72 or 73, when I thought I was going 70, but I highly doubt I was actually going 77. Maybe the guys on the bridge had locked onto the wrong car or conveyed the wrong information, but whatever it was, I'm extremely grateful for a mere warning ticket. I guess he could see that my shock and horror were real, and decided to be merciful since there were a few possibilities for error. And now, only 3 months later, I find amusement in it. And I go about 2 mph slower than I think I could.

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