Lesson number 1: Don't speed
The lights flashed so brightly that they reminded me of a flash-bang, a grenade-type device with no fragmentary but blind you and make you deaf for a couple minutes. The siren was loud and actually frightened me a tad (but not a whole lot). And the cop’s flashlight tapping against my window was annoying.
“License and registration please.”
Well, both requested items are expired, so I had no problem saying… “sir, I just got back from Iraq and …” “your information is expired,” said the officer. “Yes, sir, but here is my DD 214 and my new ID Card (from ID Card Lady).”
I think I’ve become a little too cocky since being home. In my mind, there’s no guy too big for me to whip. By God, I’ve been in Iraq for a year and I’m so mentally tough that I could break a spoon in half just by looking at it. I survived Bad Grammar Guy, ID Card Lady and Mr. Stutter Pants; there’s no way this guy will give me a ticket. He’s a man in uniform; he’ll cut me some slack, I thought as the officer checked out my information and endured the small snowflakes hitting the brim of his big hat.
“OK, son, I don’t choose who I pull over, so I’m going to give you a ticket. I can understand and even appreciate your situation, but you were doing 14 over the speed limit. I have no choice.”
He sounded as if he were about to execute me. He really didn’t want to pull the trigger, but he just had to because he had orders.
“Sir, I didn’t know how fast I was going.” I wonder how many times he’d heard that excuse. I’m sure if I had long eye lashes and pretty hair I’d be a little more convincing. But I’m just a guy and he cut me no slack…
“Here’s your ticket, son. The court date is in March. Do you have any questions?”
“Well, now, in your situation, you need to be extra careful because you don’t want to get killed after everything you’ve been through. Thank you for your service, son, and drive safely.”
I said, “Thank you, sir,” as if he’d given me the winning lottery ticket. Why is it we always say thank you after receiving a ticket? What I wanted to say was “yeah, I really wanted to wrap my car around a tree and be covered in glass. I am so thankful for you pulling me over. You know, just three weeks ago I was jumping curbs and dodging IEDs. I carried more ammunition than your entire precinct. I bet you wouldn’t have given me a ticket then.”
But if the military has taught me anything, it’s to shut up and just take the pain. When you’re wrong, you’re wrong. So, maybe I deserved the ticket, but man it stinks. His little speech worked too. And in a way, I admire the officer for not having pity on me and for just doing his job… that’s probably what I would have done. Nonetheless, I haven’t driven over the speed limit since.
Now I have to wait seven years for this to get off my record. That’s OK, I’ve got nothing but time on my hands. I can wait to speed again.
BY THE WAY, I’LL BE ON WTMJ 620 AM AGAIN. THIS TIME IT WILL BE A CALL-IN SHOW FROM 2 P.M. TO 3 P.M ON FRIDAY, FEB. 11. IF YOU’RE IN MILWAUKEE GIVE ME A CALL.