I’ll admit it, I’m a late bloomer. Major life milestones happen to me later than they seemingly do for everyone else. For instance, getting pulled over by a cop – just about everyone in my group of friends has multiple stories about getting stopped for speeding.
Until today, I had never been pulled over by a cop, even though I should have. Speeding is what got me into my first accident in the first place (never speed in parking lots!) After my multiple accidents in 2008 and 2009 (t-boning someone in a parking lot, damaging the left side of my car in a parking garage, getting hit by someone at a stoplight, damaging the OTHER side of my car in a different parking garage), I was terrified of driving. In those days, I would hardly drive a mile above the speed limit. But as more time passed and my confidence grew, I started becoming less afraid and started picking up bad habits again.
My reemerging bad habits had been bothering me for awhile, actually, but I didn’t do much about them. Even last week, when my brother was staying with me for SXSW, he remarked, “I’m really surprised you haven’t been pulled over for speeding yet.” Not that I barrel down the freeway at 90 mph with my brother in the car – no. But I’m not going to lie, I’ve started driving at least 10 – 15 miles over any given speed limit. But I laughed off his remark haughtily.
This morning, I was driving back into town. I had dropped my brother off at my parents’ house this weekend and decided to stay until Monday morning. I had stayed up late on Sunday night finishing a report for work. I was tired and bored of the drive. I had a one o’clock meeting to get to. Technically, those are the reasons why I was driving 78 mph in a 65 mph zone, but those are just excuses. I probably would have been speeding regardless.
I got pulled over on I-35, right as I got into town. I drove by a cop who had a car pulled over on the side of the interstate, and giggled with that glee of schadenfreude. I didn’t slow down because I thought the cop would be preoccupied with that vehicle. It’s pretty obvious, now that I think about it. I was one of the only cars in the left lane and my speed was noticeable.
My brother has this keen sense of awareness for cops – he will point them out when I barely notice their existence. I noticed the squad car behind me when it was too late. “Oh shit, I should slow down,” I thought, and hurriedly switched into the middle lane. I slowed down to 60 mph. I usually dislike this obvious behavior when other cars do it (“OH LOOK, COP CAR, LET ME SLOW DOWN TO 10 MPH BELOW THE SPEED LIMIT”) but I was desperate. The child in me said, “Oh, I hope he’s not after me,” while the adult in me said, “Haha, you’re so screwed.”
Sure enough, the squad car switched lanes with me, and started flashing his lights behind me. It was over. I resignedly pulled over to the left lane, where there was a spacious shoulder. I nervously parked my car and took a deep breath. My heart was beating rapidly. “OH MY GOD, I GOT PULLED OVER,” Child Jenny thought. “I AM GOING TO GET A TICKET. OH NO.” “Shut up and chill out,” Adult Jenny retorted. “This has happened to every one of your friends. Big whoop. Pull out your driver’s license and calm the fuck down.” My heart rate decreased noticeably after that, and I took a deep breath.
I have family and friends who are in law enforcement, so there was no way I was going to argue my way out of this. Why should I? I knew I deserved a ticket. Plus, I learned from my friends that if you are nice and try not to argue your way out of it, sometimes you are let off with only a warning. The officer asked to see my insurance, and I scrambled to find it in my glove department, but failed. The officer said he would look it up on his computer, and went back to his car.
I sat, now calm, debating whether I should send a, “JUST GOT PULLED OVER, LULZ!” text to Patrick, but figured texting that I got pulled over while awaiting my fate would be juvenile. The officer was taking his time. “Maybe he’s just looking up my insurance!” Child Jenny thought hopefully, but she’s an idiot. I was totally getting a ticket.
The officer came back with a citation for me, telling me that he saw me go 78 mph several times. Then he warned me several times to slow down and be safe. I said a guilty, “Yes, sir,” and he walked back to his vehicle.
When I told my mother the story, she was getting indignant on my behalf, which was cute, but I told her that I deserved to get pulled over and get a ticket. I did. I’m not upset by this at all. The cop was just doing his job. Besides, I wasn’t able to readily provide proof of insurance, and my registration sticker expired back in January (I have the new one but have been too lazy to replace it.) And the cop put that I was going 75 mph in a 65 mph on my ticket, not 78 mph, which would have been a heavier fine for me. He could have been a real dick if he wanted to, but instead gave me the smallest infraction possible. For that I am grateful.
Am I excited about paying the hefty fine? NO. I’m not a religious person by any means, but I believe the universe gives you signs should you choose to interpret them. This was a very clear sign I need to stop speeding again. In between an accident and a ticket, I’ll take a ticket, any day. This was just an expensive rite of passage and reminder that I need to slow down.