Last night as I left a friend’s house, I got pulled over by a cop. I have not been pulled over in years…come to think of it, neither has Mike. We have a great track record, and as I pull to the side of the road, I’m totally annoyed that I’m the one who broke it.
“Hello, ma’am,” he says politely. “Do you know how fast you were going?”
I hate when they ask this. It’s a trick: answer honestly and you admit to breaking the law. Lie and you look like a liar.
“Um, maybe 35 or 40, sir?” I reply.
“Well, in fact you were going 43, and this is a 35 zone.”
“Yikes,” I gulp, with the most pathetic look on my face. “I’m so sorry, Officer.” My father taught me to always address policemen as “officer.” So far, it appears to be working.
“Where were you going in such a hurry?” he asks.
I don’t have time to think of something less embarrassing, so I tell him the truth. “I was watching ‘The Bachelor’ at a friend’s house and now I’m just driving home….”
He fights a smile. He has the kindest eyes I’ve seen on a police officer, and this gives me a ray of hope. And I desperately need that ray of hope, because I know what’s coming next.
He walks back to his patrol car, and then two minutes later returns to my window.
“Now, looking at just your speed, that’s about $150. But did you know your tabs are also expired?”
There it is. I’m hosed.
“Actually,” I say to him, “just yesterday my husband noticed that and told me to change them. I’m really sorry, Officer.” This statement is one hundred percent true. I bite my lip and look up at him.
He goes on, “And I can’t prove it, but there was a construction site about a quarter-mile before I pulled you over, so that would be another $150. And the tabs would be $100. Do you realize this is a $400 ticket?”
He says all of this, but has nothing in his hands. Against all odds, I hear the tingling sound of victory bells three miles away.
“My goodness, I can’t believe that. I’m so sorry, Officer.” And I really am — I mean, who can claim to have their life together and be driving around on January 31 with tabs that expired in October? Yes, October.
He smiles and hands me my license. “Have a nice day.”
I am too shocked to speak. I cannot even smile. I look up at him and say “Thank you,” but it’s small and quiet because I am stunned into silence.
I didn’t get a ticket! I thank God the entire way home for his divine mercy, because that’s the only explanation for that officer’s behavior.
I decide to tell Mike that I got one anyway, so that when I tell him I didn’t, he’ll be really excited. This is a cruel game married people love to play.
I walk into our condo slouched over like Charlie Brown. I don’t make eye contact. I just say, “I got a ticket.”
“What? No way! How fast were you going?”
“43 in a 35. But it’s the TABS! The TABS make it $400!!”
Now he remembers our little conversation yesterday, and he’s mad. But right as I’m about to make his day by telling him it didn’t happen, he interrupts me.
“Do you want the good news or the bad news?” he asks.
What is he talking about? I’m supposed to be dropping all of the bad/good news…
“I got a ticket today, too!”
I don’t actually cuss at him, but the dozens of explosives going off in my head at once won’t allow me to process a coherent response.
He apparently doesn’t notice that my jaw is on the floor and my eyes are three inches outside my head, and keeps talking.
“Man, am I relieved. I’ve been dreading telling you all day, but now that we both did it, you can’t be mad! This is awesome!”
His joyful glee needs to come to an end. We are not in the same boat. There is a crucial difference to our stories, and it’s time he knew what it was.
“AHA! But I lied! I did get pulled over, but I DIDN’T GET A TICKET.”
I thought of the most obnoxious dance possible and starting doing it with great enthusiasm. In case you’re into details, it involved a lot of hip thrusts and pumping of arms.
I was dancing so violently I barely registered his expression of shock. But being the ever-optimist that he is, it didn’t take long for his indignation to give way to his mental calculations.
Suddenly he was ecstatic again. “Do you realize what this means?! It’s like our insurance will barely even go up at ALL!”
Mr. Sunshine has a point. And I’m so grateful that I didn’t get nailed that I decide this is one of those moments in life that is most ironic, and we high-five.