Stopped in the Name of the Law · 13 March 2010

I have been pulled over by the police twice in the last month. And they happened within about a week from each other. It was like being in a movie with somebody harassing me, but it was not fiction and the stops had no harassment. One was to tell me my truck was unsafe in the dark. The other was a case of mistaken identity.

In the past, I was usually a little fearful and full of trepidation when I pulled over by the police. I did not have either of these feelings the last couple times. Probably because I have been driving better than I did in my youth.

Like all drivers, I started out my driving career with a clean record. That lasted for about two years. I was like most of my teenage friends and drove too fast. Thus my first ticket. I had heard that I should go to the courthouse for that first ticket to see if the fine could be reduced. So I went in and threw myself on the mercy of the court because it was my first ticket. I got the fine cut in half. It was still expensive, but I learned my lesson. At least for a short time. I kept my speed down a little and got lucky a lot. No tickets for three year. Then a pattern emerged. It seemed that every three years, I would get a ticket. Thankfully, that pattern only lasted through my mid-twenties. I started driving slower then. At least a little bit.

After I had kids and started living in a neighborhood with lots of kids, my driving habits changed. I had already slowed down, but not as much as I have in recent years. Now, I do not feel a need for speed very often. And when I do, I realize that my old pickup truck will not go very fast anyway. To be honest, my speed issue has gone from going too fast to almost going too slow. I am sure that people around town who drive behind me wonder, “Who is that slowpoke going the speed limit?”

That is probably why I have not been too anxious when I have been pulled over by the police in recent years. I have wondered, “Why am I getting pulled over?” rather than “By how much was I speeding?” Even when I missed paying for our license plate tabs last year, I could not figure out why I was being pulled over.

That wondering feeling was how I reacted when I was pulled over recently. The officer asked if I knew why he pulled me over. I had no clue. He told me that one of my tail lights was out. I thanked him for letting me know and I was on my way. If I had not had a meeting that night, I would have had my children help me put in a new bulb. But I replaced the bulb before I had to attend my meeting and drive on the dark freeway.

I probably should have been a little worried on the second stop in what seemed like less than a week. Not because I had been speeding or anything but because just after I turned a corner on the homestretch to work, I saw in my rearview mirror two police cars go whizzing by on the street I had just been on. I wondered what was happening for just a second and kept driving merrily along. I had not gotten far when I saw the familiar flashing lights in the mirror. I pulled over and wondered if my other taillight had gone out since I had left home. (I have gotten into the habit of checking before I leave.) I rolled down my window and waited calmly. A flashlight shone in my window and I looked back. The officer was a fair distance away. He saw me and said, “Wrong truck.”

I replied, “Hope you get him,” but I do not think he heard me. He had gotten back into his vehicle and zoomed off, seemingly before I had a chance to finish my reply. I continued driving to work and did not really think much about being pulled over. Instead, I wondered what somebody with a similar vehicle did to warrant so many police officers looking for him.

When I got to work, I related the story of getting pulled over to our head secretary. She wondered what the guy had done as well. We laughed a little about me getting pulled over twice in the last couple weeks and then got ready for our day at school. And I started writing this story in my head.

Getting pulled over by the police is never a fun experience. Especially, when it happens twice in two weeks! But when I have not been doing anything wrong, my heart does not race with anxiety. Instead, with a clear conscience, I just start thinking about what great story I will get to tell about my latest experience. And no, there will not be a chase scene in the next story of me getting pulled over by the police. Not unless I am writing a piece of fiction.

© 2010 Michael T. Miyoshi

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