Thursday, March 15, 2012
Objects in the Mirror
“Mom…why does this mirror say Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear? Why does it matter?” My daughter was lazily propped against the car door as we headed home, when she noticed the pale inscription on the side-view mirror. And then it occurred to her, “Oooooh, that’s for when you’re being followed by the police.”
She knows my record all too well. Driving record, that is. In fact my kids had a front row seat for what I would say was not my finest 15 minutes of neighborhood fame. But I’ll come back to that…
I’ve always had a lead foot…it’s in my genes…it can’t be helped. My formative driving years took place on the expressways of the Windy City. I successfully and necessarily learned how to change lanes unharmed in two seconds flat without signal, along the likes of the “beautiful” Dan Ryan. Don’t get me started on my parallel parking lesson in Chi-town…it bears a striking resemblance to a chance game of bumper cars. But I loved it…it felt like home surrounded by others LIKE me. I relished every opportunity to let my driving freak flag fly.
Unfortunately not everyone appreciates my skilled and ever-so-slightly aggressive maneuvering. ‘Round these parts, I may even be considered a menace…or so says the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. My interactions with the men of road law have been scattered about my driving history, starting when I was probably 18-ish. I’ve been required to attend driving school twice. Yes, I said it. Twice. I’ve never caused an accident, I’ve never been reckless…I simply have a need. For speed.
Two incidents in particular will be forever burned in my memory…ready for retrieval at the sheer hint of a need for laughs. First…let me just ask…did you all know that cops on motorcycles can pull people over?? Well. You all are smarter than my dumbass 22 year old self. Much. One morning I found myself running particularly late to work. I was a site director for a YMCA summer day camp on the opposite side of town, requiring a 45 minute commute each way. Dressed in my YMCA uniform (a fancy-schmancy t-shirt) I high-tailed it around our interstate loop to get to my site on time. On a three lane highway I generally stay in the far left lane. Chances are I’ll be the one passing everyone else so why waste time moving back and forth. As I came around the bend, I saw the motorcycle. I saw the attached red and blue lights. I saw the uniformed officer straddled on board. As I approached his rear at a gentle 55 mph (teehee…yes I’m a 12 year old boy at heart) I had two choices…remain behind OR tenderly pass him on the left. With a subtle turn of my wheel to the left, I convinced myself that he was not in fact the variety of sheriff who pull motorists over (Did I not EVER watch an episode of CHiPs??). And JUST as quickly as that thought entered…it swiftly flitted away. Right about the time I found myself adjacent to Mr. Estrada. The look on his face was confusing…to this day I’m not sure if it was disbelief, anger, or sheer sympathy. (Dear GOD I swear I’m a smart girl.)
Soon thereafter I was parked safely along the shoulder of the interstate as officer friendly tapped on my window. I’d done this before I knew the drill…my license and registration were already in hand for his review. No need to ask. I swear the man snickered before even opening his mouth…he asked me about my YMCA shirt and what that organization would think of my lack of responsibility (YES one of our four core values, dammit). Guilt?? Jesus. As you know, I HATE disappointing people. I would have much rather had the man be a cocky ass-bag and stare at my jugs. (They didn’t look THAT bad under my baby blue golf shirt.) No…rather, he allowed me the time to wallow in my guilt, making me sweat, only to offer me a warning, the chance to run free, no money owed, no driving school. Amen. Good day, sir.
Which brings me to my second instance of erroneous driving notoriety.
It was a bad day at work and a Friday, no less. A little red wine was on the menu for dinner…hell let’s face it, it was the ONLY thing I was planning to have for dinner. A day filled with frustration at work and an hour long commute home in the dark spelled a stop at the grocery store for mommy’s special juice. Thankfully we had a Kroger right in front of our neighborhood, literally a pit stop away from my front door. As I made my way back to my car with some ciabatta (I did still have the fam to feed…and making a big Italian dish always calms my nerves) and two bottles of soft red in tow I got a call from my next door neighbor. I can’t recall the topic of convo but suffice it to say that as I saw the red and blue lights quickly burn through the dark behind me as I turned down my street, the discussion soon turned to my fate at the hands of our town police.
I could hear the excitement in her voice as she dropped the call and headed out her door to watch from her stoop. At this point I was simply pissed off. No other way to describe my mood. This jackass was pulling me over in my own neighborhood…in my own damn driveway. Lovely. He approached my car as I flung my door open, heaving the bags of sweet red angel kisses (wine) and tossed him the usual…my Lic and Reg. (I should probably just keep them laminated together as one document and in my console.) I clomped in my heels up my driveway, through my garage and in to my kitchen as he sat in his cruiser running my record. I swear my neighbor was pissing herself with laughter as the gentleman then pulled up with all three of our innocent sweet babies on board. Of course he was all a wonder as he requested entrance from the cop to our own garage. (Although I’m sure he had a strong guess as to his reason for stopping by.) Just as my kids were exiting the car the officer was on his way to my door to hand me my gear. Of course. The kids started questioning the officer as to the reason for his visit…and with all seriousness my son asked if he was taking his mommy to jail. I swear I could hear my neighbor crying with laughter at this point as I hung my head in complete humiliation…and of course, still pissed.
The officer (in the soft glow from the light of my kitchen was actually significantly attractive but completely beside the point) choked back a giggle and assured my children that mommy wasn’t in any trouble, she wasn’t going to jail, she simply needed a reminder that we must be careful as we drive through our neighborhood. In my defense, I wasn’t IN my neighborhood when he initially flashed his pearly red and blues…almost but not quite. Before you get your panties in a bunch, just know I wasn’t playing chicken with the neighborhood kiddos in the middle of our street. But I digress. The kind occifer smiled sweetly, as he glanced over my shoulder at the pretty red bottles sitting on my table, and my loud crew of preschoolers filing into my home and again I was offered a very generous warning and a good evening. Noted. Done. Now where is that corkscrew, honey?
Did I learn my lesson? Eh. I have been awarded a couple of tickets since then and my second round of driving school. I get it. Safety first. When my kids are in the car I’m a good girl. But I’ve got a little wild-child in me when I’m alone, the sunroof is open and the music is blaring. I need to let her out once in awhile.