May 14, 2009

Why Yes, Officer, I do believe I was speeding, BUT...

The summer after I graduated from college, the first thing I did was buy a brand new car. It was my first nonused car in life. I had driven some real clunkers through the college years, memorable vehicles, all of them. But I was now an adult with a full time job and no tuition bills. I could afford a new car. Barely.

I went to the dealer with a budget of $150/month. I wasn't thinking I could afford a new car, but I could at least afford a DECENT used car with less than 6 figures on the odometer. A car I didn't have to keep a case of oil in the back to reload every 100 miles as I drove with a trail of blue smoke spewing from the pipe of my Chevette. Yes, I admit I owned one. I didn't have to drive a car with an old stop sign bolted to the driver side floor because the floor had rusted out.

I was ready for some WHEELS! The salesman said he could get me in a BRAND NEW NEVER BEEN DRIVEN CAR for $158 a month. I hesitated for a moment. Keep in mind, 20 years ago, that $8 bought a lot more than it had today. But it also probably bought $8 less repairs, and I was able to get 0% financing. Moment over, I was on my way to owning a new car. This new car didn't even have a radio, or power anything. It was even a manual shift. But it was NEW. It had that smell versus the dry rotted sun bleached smell of my prior vehicles.

To celebrate ownership of my new vehicle, I convinced my best friend to take a trip with me to the beach in New Jersey. I spent my teenage summers there, but this was the first year I rented my OWN house, not my parents. We made the trek. I always loved going to Jersey because we were so close to NYC and the beach. The best of both worlds.We had gone up to the city for the evening to do some shopping and have dinner. During the drive up, not a single car on the the Garden State Parkway was going under 75 MPH. I kept up with the traffic nicely. On the way back to our beach house, I maintained a similar speed but I was one of the only cars on the road. Prime pickings for the officer. I got pulled over.

I still had temporary tags on my new car, from the great state of Ohio. This absolutely gorgeous specimen of man in uniform appeared at my window. Flashing my most charming smile, I conjured every ounce of feigned innocence and inquired what the problem was. I knew I had been speeding and he confirmed that. I'm not quite sure where I found the boldness, but I retorted and said, "You know, I'm from out of state, and when I drove this parkway around 4 PM, everyone was driving 75, I just figured it was the native protocol."

He agreed with my assessment but pointed out that there was no traffic to keep up with. Then he asked what I was doing in Jersey. I said I had just graduated from college and was spending a week at the beach to celebrate. We made a bit of small talk about what a great basketball team my school had, and what I studied and then he cut the conversation short and took my license and started to walk back to his car to fill out the ticket. I was shocked!

I thought we were halfway to the altar, NOT to a ticket. I hung out my window and said, "Hey, wait a minute, get back here!" He smirked and came back with a single word, "What?"

I began to babble somewhat nervously and said, "You don't really want to ruin my vacation, do you? You know if you write this ticket, I'm not going to pay it. What would you do, chase me down to Ohio to pay it? Have some mercy on an out of towner so I return to your state, please?" I'm pretty sure I also batted my eyes. The act of a desperate girl who knew that the ticket would more than eat up the slim budget I had.

I think my boldness shocked him. To this day, I don't know how it worked, but he looked at me, handed me my license, and said "getouttaheah and have a good vacation" in his Tony Soprano accent. I smiled and thanked him for saving my vacation, and went to drive off.

He went back to his cruiser, flashed his lights, got on the megaphone and yelled, SLOW DOWN! I am a hero with my friends in Jersey. I'm told NOBODY gets out of a ticket from a Statey. But I did, and I have a witness. I am legendary.

Have you ever gotten out of a ticket that you know you deserved?

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