My daughter’s actual birthday was last Wednesday. She turned 7. My mother and I took her, her best friend and my son to an indoor play area called “Charlie’s Safari.” (Highly recommend it, by the way, should you happen to be in this region. Expensive but clean and new and it had an enclosed room just for parents.)
After the adventure, we hurried home so I could work for an hour.
Then I rushed out of the house again with my 11-year old and the 7-year old birthday girl. His middle school Open House was from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The new middle school opened last year and while it is fancy and pretty and high-tech, it is located a good fifteen minutes from our house. The last mile stretch to the school is a four-lane road with very little traffic.
As soon as I saw the police car on the other side of the road, I glanced at my speedometer. Fifty miles an hour, it said. The speed limit was either thirty or thirty-five. Definitely not fifty. I eased on my brake but the police car had already moved forward. I looked back and saw it making a U-turn.
It was quite a bit behind me, so I hoped that my law-breaking had been unnoticed, that the car’s motion and U-turn were coincidental. With a sigh of relief, I turned onto the road leading to school.
Only it didn’t lead to school. It led to the Civic Center, home of the police station. And it was a dead-end. I pulled into the parking lot to turn around and as I did so, the police car turned onto the same road, heading toward me. I waited for the police car to turn into the parking lot so I could exit and return to the street only the police car stopped short and motioned me to leave the parking lot.
I did and immediately, the police car with its flashing lights appeared in my rear-view mirror.
I pulled over.
The police officer, a young guy–everyone now seems younger than me–cautiously approached the open window of my mini-van. He asked for my license, registration and proof of insurance. Of course, my proof of insurance card is an old one–I never can seem to get the new slips of paper into the car in a timely manner–and I said, “But I promise, it’s up to date.”
He scanned my license and registration and then asked, “Do you know why I pulled you over?”
“Because I was going too fast.”
“Uh, because I am late. I’m always kind of late.”
“Where are you going?”
“Uh, to a school open house.”
“Then why did you pull in here?”
“Because I’ve been to the school only two times,” I held up two fingers and wondered if I should have taken off my sunglasses, “and I thought this was the right road. But it wasn’t. The right road.”
“You weren’t trying to hide so I wouldn’t pull you over?”
“No!” Oh, that I should be so naturally devious.
“When was the last time you got a ticket?”
Me, calculating what year it was that I lived in Bellingham and got pulled over while leaving the grocery store with provisions for a picnic lunch I was packing–it was before we had kids and our kids are 16 and how long ago would that have been?
“Do you want me to give you a ticket?”
“Well, I’m giving you a warning. I only give one warning. The next time I catch you speeding, I will give you a ticket.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
So, we were a few minutes late to the Open House.
After sitting on the bleachers to listen to the principal introduce all the teachers (such an exercise in futility–no one will remember the names of thirty or forty teachers), we went around and found each classroom and met each teacher.
Then rushed back home. He changed into football gear. I handed off our daughter to her dad so he could take her to her school Open House. I dropped off the football son at practice, then rushed off to the mandatory virtual high school Orientation. (That even took place thirty minutes away.) I had to scrounge around in my car for two dollars in change to pay for parking.
Two hours later, rushed back home so I could work another three hour shift.
The next glorious day was the first day of school. And I didn’t shed a single tear. (More about that tomorrow.)
Moral of the story: While driving on Center Drive, even though there is no traffic, put your car on cruise control and go 35 mph. Or a young police officer will yell at you and threaten to give you a ticket that you deserve.