What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Close Call

The other day I was driving the roughly twelve mile stretch between school and work. It was shortly after 12:30 and the lunch hour traffic was lighter than usual. I was singing along with Jason Aldean on a freshly burned disk of assorted country music and generally trying to look cool, calm and collected as I bobbed my head to the tune and adjusted my sunglasses. The road seemed to come to me and I really didn't notice much other than the white lines to my left and the base boosted sound from the speaker on my right.

I didn't care too much about my speed, but was going about five miles per hour above the speed of traffic (roughly sixty) and, if my memory serves me correctly, the zone was listed for 45. The town where I go to school has a large police presence and the road I was traveling is such a transit artery that regular patrolling is a guarantee. Still, I thought little of the authorities when I noticed a gap in the traffic ahead of me and accelerated to pass a car and settle in.

Never glancing at my speedometer, I grinned as I heard the first notes of a new Josh Turner single and started singing along with Firecracker.

Ahead of me was an intersection that is arguably the largest and most traveled in all town. It's on a road between two large higher education institutions and the cross street is a major east west route (Pacific and March, for those of you in the know). When I was no closer than three hundred feet from the light, it switched from green to yellow.

I calculated quickly and determined I could make it. Then I down-shifted and gunned the engine, leaping forward with less caution than the yellow light demanded. To my left, I noticed a red Isuzu Rodeo, making a similar attempt.

(I've always wondered about the wisdom of naming a car "Rodeo;" it doesn't speak much to the smoothness of the ride).

Just before crossing the white line and entering the large square of the intersection, I happened to glance at my speed and noticed I was almost thirty over the limit. I'd started out a tad fast, speed up to pass a car and then severely violated the applicable traffic laws during my approach to the light.

But as fast as I was going, the Rodeo was going faster. Without a radar gun, I can't be entirely accurate as it its speed, but I would wager an honest nickel that it was going on the high side of 85. Maybe even 90.

As we breezed through the intersection, two geese on a flight south, I noticed the distinctive white and black markings of a CHP officer out of the corner of my right eye. You know the type: reinforced bumper, light rack and overweight driver. I instinctively engaged the clutch and tapped the breaks to slow down, but the officer's lights were blinking and he had pulled out of his perch before I could slow below the posted limit.

Embarrassment and disappointment are the only two emotions I remember as I carefully pulled my car to the side of the road and engaged my emergency blinkers.

My first ticket.

I had been driving - seriously driving - nine months and now I would have a point on my license, my insurance costs would skyrocket and I would have to sit through a class on traffic safety - as if I didn't know all the rules I'd violated. I sighed and leaned back, waiting for the prefect to come to my door.

But the officer never came. In fact, the cop car chased down the Rodeo and a uniformed officer was knocking at the door of the red SUV when I drove by a fraction of a minute later.

I don't know how much weight I lost in those few moments when I thought I was going to be ticketed, but it must have been measurable. My heart was beating like I'd just drunk three Red Bulls while watching Mission Impossible and my palms were sweatier than T.D. Jakes after a hard sermon. As if to reinforce my feelings, my stereo was playing Keith Urban's Stupid Boy.

The rest of my ride to General Mills was about as slow as I can remember. I don't believe I ever came within five miles of the speed limit and I spent the entire time in the slow lane.


Will said...

And the moral of the story is to always run a yellow light alongside someone who is speeding just a little faster. Oh and Firecracker is an awesome song! :p

Matthew said...

I know someone whose rule of thumb is that he can speed as much as he wants as long as he's never the fastest one on the road. He's never got a ticket.

adrialien said...

see, that's what happens when you listen to country music. you stop paying attention to your driving and start speeding. proof that country music is evil. :P