Thursday, January 31, 2008

Queen of the Road


I used to get speeding tickets. Often. It wasn't that I wanted to die young and leave a pretty corpse. I think it was a combination of machismo, not valuing my own life enough and not believing that I could die. Also, I was always running late and if I had died, I would have been late to my own funeral.

I was forced to reevaluate my lead-footed ways when I got a ticket in upstate New York for going 85 mph in a 55 mph zone. Thirty miles over the speed limit is automatic loss of license in New York.

It was looking pretty hopeless because I was caught by radar on Interstate-684, the primary highway through Westchester County to further upstate. The road was a speed demon's dream, several lanes with hardly any traffic. It was a high velocity road.

I was working an hour north of my home at the time, which in blizzard conditions could easily become five or six hours. As the sole support of my children, I had a lot at stake concerning my license. If I couldn't drive, I couldn't work.

As I stared dejectedly at the ticket, I noticed something. I'm sure my mouth dropped open as I read it carefully again, but there was no mistake. The policeman had marked the box for "male."

I decided to fight it in court, and to represent myself as I couldn't afford a lawyer.

My appearance day arrived and the courthouse was full of people. The police officer took the stand first. He described my vehicle, and then he explained lengthily how his radar equipment worked. He told the judge that it had been tested a week before the incident and was 100% accurate at 55, 65, 75 and 85 miles per hour. He was impressive.

When it was my turn, I said there was no doubt that Officer Kelly was a very good policeman and that I was sure his radar equipment was perfect. But I believed he had ticketed the wrong car and the wrong driver because he had checked the box for male, and I had never considered myself a borderline case.

People throughout the gallery tittered and the judge, whose name was also Susan, emitted a snort which she turned into a cough.

"Besides, I don't have a unisex name," I added. Judge Susan nodded slightly.

The policeman, who was a very nice man, said, 'I can't believe I did that to you. I'm so sorry. It's just that most of our speeders are men."

I knew I had to give them something. He was a good cop, and I was going 85. We all knew it.

I told the judge, "I may have exceeded the speed limit, but not by thirty miles per hour. I don't think my old car would even go that fast."

She leaned on her elbow and smiled at me. "How fast do you think you were going?" she asked.

"Oh, maybe 60 or even 62," I said.

Judge Susan turned to the policeman. "Officer, would it be all right with you if I fine this woman for going five miles over the speed limit?"

"I'd pay her fine myself if my wife would let me," he said.

She banged her gavel, I paid the court a $25 fine, grinning the whole time, gave myself some high fives and drove home.

It took all my self-control but I did not exceed the speed limit.

32 comments:

RED MOJO said...

What a great story! That would never happen to me. People mistake me for a guy all the time, and my name is one of those unisex names, but he'd have circled the correct gender in my case. I've driven 115mph and not been caught though, so I guess I am a little lucky.

jameil1922 said...

girl that is BEYOND impressive!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Mojo,

You ARE lucky. I was once a passenger in my father's sports car when he decided to see if it would really do 140.

Suddenly, another car appeared ahead of us.

"That guy is following pretty close on your front, isn't he, Dad?" I said.

He passed the other car and slowed down to 135.

He never got a ticket in his life either.

Jameil,

THANK YOU, and welcome to my place.

I was lucky that the cop was a nice person and the judge happened to have my name. What are the chances?

Melanie said...

I love it. That is so impressive. What a clever way to get out of losing your lisence. Using his mistake in your favor.

maybe you should have been a lawyer?

Rachel Schell said...

wow! look at you!

now that's smart. you should have been a lawyer.

Sienna said...

"That guy is following pretty close on your front, isn't he, Dad?" I said.

LOL!

60 or maybe 62!!!! You! That is funny.

Weird (strange) how we do the risk taking stuff...we know better, but don't think things through real well sometimes?

I once "dragged" a car on the road, this guy had come up beside me waving and pointing ...I thought he was trying to pick me up!? and/or race me?, So I drove quicker..he kept alongside, and finally put up a big signcard with "Police" on it. (Plain cop car).

When I'd pulled up he said "what were you thinking?"

I said, I'm sorry, but I just thought you wanted to have a little race..or trying to pick me up"....whisper mutter......could have been a murderer for all I knew. Says lead foot Grand Prix Queen.

He booked me.

Was my one and only speeding fine.

Pam

meno said...

Aren't you the clever one? Did you wear a skirt and a push-up bra to court?

I have never gotten a speeding ticket.

I have deserved many.

You know what's going to happen now that i said that don't you?

Josie said...

60 or maybe 62? Hearts, you have chutzpah. You are my hero!!

What a wonderful story.

Open Grove Claudia said...

What a great story. You are so strong and resourceful! Hurray! I also admire that you threw a bone to the policeman. That's really a great, kind thing to do.

Open Grove Claudia said...

oh... I tagged you.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Melanie,

My father was a lawyer as well as my brother and later, my son.

Law fascinates me but I had other ideas when I might have gone to law school.

Rachel,

I sometimes wish I had but I became an actor.

Pam,

The Grand Prix Queen. When you come to California, we'll have to go driving together.

Watch out, world.

I can't imagine why he booked you. Most women would try to get away from an unmarked car with a guy making hand gestures.

Meno,

No push-up bra. Being in court was about brains, not tits.

Now that you've put your clean slate out there, maybe you should slow down for awhile until this blows over.

Josie,

Well, it wasn't my AGE or anything. And that poor old car could actually do well over 85.

Claudia,

It would have been wrong not to because he had me dead to rights if I hadn't challenged a momentary lapse on his part. He was probably dazzled by my push-up bra (see above.)

katrice said...

Oh you're good. I never would have thought of that.

Mamas do what they have to do.

Liz said...

Look at you, Madame Clever!

I love this story. You have had some great adventures.

the psycho therapist said...

First, It's just that most of our speeders are men.

Gah!

Second, yeaaah, I don't think I was too far off on suggesting panhandling for that roadster, Mama. Looks like we've got us some experience here.

Third, Pam, LOL!!!!!

--

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Katrice,

Mama had a heavy foot on the gas pedal.

Liz,

There has always been a little larceny in my soul.

Wendy,

I love Pam's story, too. She is always a lively one.

meggie said...

Great story!! Yay for you!

Emperor Ropi said...

I always keep every rules.

furiousBall said...

You were speeding by 30 mph and got off by a mischecked box? Well, W did win an election that way too didn't he?

As a parent, I am glad you mentioned that you USED to get speeding tickets.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Excellent account. And an exceptional defense maneuver, too.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Meggie,

:)

Ropi,

And so you should.

Van,

I am a reformed speeder, and I created doubt since I am not and have never been a member of the male gender.

I couldn't have done worse then W as president, though.

Saint Nick,

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Good story. Glad you went easy on the law officer.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Calvin,

I wasn't out to discredit him. I just needed to retain my driver's license.

Christy said...

*bows down to the master*

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Christy,

Oh, yes, oh YES!! Tell me more. :)

Thank you!

citizen of the world said...

That's fantastic. How nice that the cop was gracious about it in court, too.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Citizen,

Absolutely. He was a very nice man, exactly the kind of person we like to think is guarding the public safety.

DMB said...

My first thought was "What a great story!" and then I see the first comment is exactly that!

Wow. Impressive.

You. Your story. Not my being in synch-ness with RED MOJO.

But yeah, that too.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Dmb,

So, you wanna go for a ride? Let's see how fast this baby can do.

eastcoastdweller said...

I HATE speed limits!

When the road is wide open and the weather is nice, LEAVE ME ALONE!

If I am in a neighborhood, or in congestion, or on a winding, icy road on the side of a mountain, yes, I deserve a ticket for driving above whatever limit has been set.

But not on a gorgeous, clear freeway.

I am so glad that You beat the rap this time. I felt that way after a fender bender a few years ago when some fool decided that parkway meant exactly that and stopped in a lane of 55 mile an hour traffic to ask a cop on the shoulder for directions to a wedding.

I was actually going the speed limit or perhaps a little under it. But I was following a little too close, methinks, and not expecting the car in front of the car in front of me to come to a dead stop.

Still, I explained to the judge what happened and walked out of the court a free man. You can bet I have kept a good slice of safety space between myself and the driver in front, ever since.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Eastcoaster,

It seems that when a road is clearly built for speed, that should be respected. And expected.

I once had a fender bender on the same road in a blizzard. Visibility was near-zero when the car ahead of me just stopped. No harm was done because we were practically walking our cars.

Molly said...

This is hilarious And you've got guts!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Molly,

It was a stroke of luck for sure!

(And I'm not even Irish.)