We left town at 8 a.m. on a Monday morning on our recent trip to South Dakota. At 8:30 I got pulled over for speeding.
"Shit," I muttered under my breath when I saw the flashing lights behind me.
"PULL ONTO THE SIDE STREET," the black and white ordered. I obediently pulled over, and opened my window. The officer walked up and I mustered as much innocence as a sinner with a black heart can muster.
"Is there a problem, officer?" I asked sweetly.
"Yes, ma'am," the young officer said politely, "You were going 45 in a 30. May I see your license and proof of insurance, please?"
I handed over my license, newly renewed last month, thankthelittlebabyjesus, or I'd be paying for a driving-without-a-license ticket as well as a speeding ticket. But when I searched for the current insurance card, it was nowhere to be found. I had the last two cards, but the most recent one expired in May.
"Do you have current insurance on the vehicle?" Young Officer Friendly (YOF) asked.
"Yes, sir," I said truthfully, but I was sure I was going down not just for speeding, but for POI as well. POI--Proof of Insurance. That's how us bad'uns talk about our rap sheets.
"When was the last time you had a moving violation?" he asked.
"Oh, I can't remember," I said. "Years, I think." It turns out this was an inadvertent lie. Days later I remembered that I got a ticket in the mail a couple of months ago for an illegal right turn on red. I am a regular Public Enemy.
YOF went back to his vehicle to write my tickets and do whatever mysterious things police officers do when they leave you waiting and sweating it out in your car after they pull you over. He was probably playing Scramble on his laptop while he waited for my extensive rap sheet to print out.
Meanwhile the kids were all speculating about my lawlessness in the back seat. "Were you speeding, Mommy?"
"Are you going to jail?"
"How fast were you going?"
"Are we still going to be able to go on vacation?"
When he returned to my window, he handed me back my license, plus a speeding ticket.
"You're sure you have insurance on the vehicle?" he asked one more time. Yes, I was sure.
"I'm not going to write you a ticket for not having your card," he said, "but I have to write you up for speeding." He explained what I needed to do about the ticket--which, uh oh, did I actually pay it? Crap! I can't remember!--and he let me know that if he had written me up for POI I'd have to show up in court to get my license back, and the cost of the ticket would automatically triple, or something ridiculous like that. I promised him I'd pay it as soon as I got home. Oops.
Frankly, he was so polite, and so civil and friendly--he actually asked where we were headed on vacation, and we talked about the Badlands for a couple of minutes--that it was almost a pleasure doing business with him. Except for the fact that "doing business" meant paying a $75 speeding ticket.
So, I fought the law, and the law won.
But when Dr. Paradigm Shift got pulled over for speeding through the Badlands several days later, she fought the law, and she won! The officer who pulled Dr. PS over told her that she had got her on radar going 55 in a 35, and, she hyperbolized, "I've never seen anyone going that fast in the park!" I was kind of proud of Dr. PS for that, but she was not buying it AT ALL.
The officer said she was not going to write her a ticket after all, because she didn't have a "clear reading" or some such nonsense, and this, Dr. PS said, was "fishy."
"Either she got me, and she'd write me a ticket," she theorized, "or she didn't get me, and she's not giving me a ticket." And what, she just likes to pull random people over and tell them that she's never seen anyone driving so fast through the Badlands?
I don't know. All I'm saying is, Dr. PS has a history of speediness in the Badlands, and I think she should take her Get Out of Jail Free card and run.
Plus, I was praying the whole time that I wouldn't have to show POI. The last thing I need is to have to show up in court in Interior, South Dakota, population 67, just to get my license back.