This is why.
The summer after graduating from college, I was at quite the crossroad. The week I graduated from Bradley was the week my on-again-off-again-boyfriend moved back to Peoria and I moved home to Chicago (suburbia for Chicago-proper residents). I wanted nothing more than to move back to P-town, participate in a non-long-distance-relationship, and be near my best friend, Penny.
So I spent a lot of time driving.
My weekends were spent at Flaherty’s, tending bar and banking cash, telling stories to some really great listeners, and playing the part of everyone’s therapist to some really interesting characters. My weekdays were spent driving to and from Peoria, interviewing for a random collection of various career paths.
One Friday night in July, I was deep in conversation with one of my favorite listeners/patients. Liz was a stay at home mom, likely the wife of a would-be mobster who, at the very least, verbally abused Liz into alcoholism. Needless to say, she had a lot to talk about, but she loved to live vicariously through my 22-year-old stories of miscreant behavior. On this particular evening, Liz was telling the stories. She had gotten pulled over for going far too fast in suburbia on the way to pick her kids up from school. The officer was unsympathetic and unapologetic as he wrote her a hefty fine in the form of a speeding ticket.
At this point in the night, I felt the need to make the following statement to Liz, and the others in the conversation,
“I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket in my life. I mean, I’ve been pulled over, but I’ve always gotten away with a warning.”
Quickly, Pauly, one of my regulars, jumped in, “DON’T say that! You’ll jinx yourself!”
Sure enough, a few days later, I was on my way to Peoria, thinking nothing of the regular trip down, when I saw the flashing blue and red lights behind me. I checked my speed (nothing out of the ordinary, maybe 5 miles over), checked my seat belt (phew!), and sat waiting.
A female officer walked up to my passenger side window, “Do you know why I pulled you over?”
“I think I was speeding a little, but not much.”
“Actually, you were going over 20 over in a construction zone.” Whoops!
“Oh my gosh officer, I’m so sorry. I didn’t even realize that. I’m so sorry.” Oh God, Oh God, Oh God. It sure didn’t look like a construction zone…Not going to argue though.
“I need to see your license and proof of insurance.” I passed her my driver’s license and dug around the car for my insurance card. Once I discovered it, I handed that to her as well. She thanked me and walked towards the trooper car.
Oh God, Oh God…5 minutes later, the officer returned with my insurance and a big yellow ticket. “Because this is your first violation, I’m only going to write you up for going over 20 over. How do you want to post bond?”
I had no clue what she was talking about. “Umm…”
“You can either pay the ticket now, or I can hold onto your driver’s license until you pay the fine.”
“How much is the ticket?” I asked, knowing I had brought a bunch of cash with me for the week.
“$90.” There goes my spending money.
“I have the money, officer.” I dug around my purse until I uncovered four twenties and a ten. I handed them to her, and she returned my license.
“Slow down. Follow the speed limit. And NEVER speed in a construction zone.”
“Yes, ma’am. Thank you, officer.”
And so I drove away somber after my first speeding ticket.
Of course, Friday night came, and I told my story. Of course, everyone laughed, myself included. The $90 was a faint memory and I was making it back that night. Supervision would be a piece of cake. I mean, I went 22 years before my first ticket. No problem right?
The following Monday afternoon, less than a week out of my first speeding ticket, I was driving through suburban Villa Park, cruising along while running errands when I saw the familiar blue and red lights behind me. I pulled over and waited.
A really genuinely nice old man police officer walked up to the car and began the conversation, “Do you know why I pulled you over?”
“No officer, I don’t.” Play dumb. It always works in the movies.
“You were going pretty fast, young lady. The speed limit is 25, and you were going almost 40.” Whoops!
“Oh my gosh! Officer, I’m so so sorry. I didn’t realize how fast I was going.”
“Well, you need to slow down. I’m going to write you a ticket, but you can go to court and request supervision.”
“What if I have more than one ticket?”
“What do you mean?”
“I just got a ticket last week…”
“What?” he said looking at me incredulously.
“I got a ticket for speeding last week in Tazwell County.”
“And clearly, didn’t learn your lesson…”
“No, I guess not, officer.”
The very nice police officer walked back to his car shaking his head. He returned 10 minutes later with a ticket, and handed me my license back.
“Now, I’m going to have you sign here as your bond,” he told me, pointing to the yellow ticket.
“What does that mean?” I asked, because clearly I thought it was money or license.
“It means that you are signing to say that you understand you’ve got to pay this ticket or go to court. I recommend going to court and asking for supervision if this is your second ticket.”
“I will. Thank you so much officer.”
“Have a nice day.”
“You too, officer.”
And with that, he walked away. I drove away concerned, but feeling confident that I could get supervision.
Of course, the story doesn’t end here…
To be continued tomorrow with my first ticketed accident…