Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Day I Lost My Mind

I am embarrassed to even write this, but I promised I would. . .
You see. It all starts with this bridge. There's an extremely long bridge, The Causeway, that connects where I live to New Orleans. By long, I mean 23 miles. At minimum, I cross this bridge twice week and often it is much, much more than that. You see, Charlie's Feldenkrais therapy is in on the other side, as is my brother, my parents, and most of the good restaurants. On my side we've got better public schools and lower flood insurance, which is why we live here instead of there.

Anyway, anyone who knows anything about anything knows that you DO NOT speed on the Causeway. You can go four miles over the speed limit and that is the absolute maximum. After that, well, expect to get pulled over.

Every time I get on the bridge, I set my cruise and cross the bridge with no problems. I pass multiple police officers without breaking a sweat. I'm a rule-follower when it comes to the Causeway. This is mostly because everyone knows that the Causeway has more money than things to do, so you best not become the object of their wrath.

At the end of the bridge, the speed limit drops rapidly from 65 mph to 35 mph and this is one of the places they love to pull people over. I know this.

Well, today I was a little distracted. I'd had an especially stressful morning, one in which I'd found out that I may have to cancel our February trip to Plano because I'm having trouble finding a companion, and while I like to play rock solid here on the ole bloggy, blog, it does take a village to raise a Charlie and some days are harder than others.

So! Distracted! Exiting the Bridge! Suddenly I realize that I am, in fact, exiting and begin breaking rapidly. Well, too little too late I found out. A few yards after the bridge, police officer steps out into the road. She points at my car and makes some hand gestures. Then, she points at the car next to me and makes some hand gestures. I think, "Whew!" I guess I slowed down in time and then continue on my way. I thought she'd been waving us on.

Not so much. Actually, the cop thought I was a fugitive from justice. She RAN to her car like the bionic woman and caught up with me three yard away where I was stopped at a red light. She gets on the loud speaker, "OWNER OF THE FORD TAURUS--PULL INTO THE U-HAUL PARKING LOT." Not good, right? Well, I pull in there, and then she makes me back out of a parking spot and continue driving through the parking lot and then on some more until she finds an abandoned parking lot in which to properly cite me.

I'm already not happy with the situation. I prefer to be pulled over in public location with plenty of public scrutiny. That's just how I roll.

She gets on her megaphone--I mean, really?--and tells me to get out my license, proof of insurance, and registration. I'm getting annoyed. It's taken five minutes just to pull me over, and I've got a Feldenkrais appointment that I have to pay for, whether we attend it or not.

The good girl in me is still ashamed for speeding and ready to take my punishment as quickly as possible. I'm not one to argue or try to get out of a ticket--if I've done something wrong, then I'm prepared to take the punishment.

So, she comes to my window and I hand her my license and insurance card, and say brightly, "I've got so many insurance cards, it's hard to figure out which one's current. Let me get my registration!"

And then she replies, "Why did you ignore me when I told you to pull over?"

I'm still trying to be nice at this point and say, "I thought you were waving me on. "

And she says, "NO. I did this."

And then she proceeds to do more of that crazy hand waving business and at that point I lost my ever-loving mind. I mean really. Do the police actually think that ANYONE knows what those crazy signals mean? More than once I've been at an intersection wondering if I should go. . . or not. . . and it's one thing to use it, and another thing entirely to assume that every blooming person on the planet has undergone police training.

And you know? She didn't have to be rude about it. I worked with surly adolescents for years and rudeness never got me anywhere. A simple explanation of the different signals would have made me a more competent driver--instead, she decided to power trip on me and for whatever reason, I snapped.

So I say "Sorry. I don't have a degree in hand signals. You don't have to get an attitude."


I'm lucky she didn't haul me out of the car and taze me just for fun.

So when I finally get my ticket, it's not only for speeding, but I have to appear in court for, you guessed it, failure to obey police orders. When she asked me to sign it I refused. I obeyed her orders! That's how I ended up in an abandoned parking lot! She told me that signing was not an admission of guilt--just an admission that I'd received the ticket and that if I didn't sign it, she could arrest me. It said right there on the form, "Not an admission of guilt," so I did sign it, but I tell you what, I was gettin' hot and indignant. I was stickin' up for the little guy! I was a freedom fighter! Ok, I was none of those things, but in the moment, I was feelin' it.

Of course, now I just feel like a hot-head.

So there ya go. The ugly side of Bird on the Street.