Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Score One For The Man

It’s been more than a year but I still remember the look on the police officer’s face when my car slid to a stop, just inches from where she sat in the passenger’s seat of the cruiser.

Her mouth was open and her eyes wide with surprise…before she narrowed them in a glare.

I was driving through an intersection on a light I had watched turn green on my approach. I had slowed to accommodate two cars squeezing in left turns on a red light in front of me. In a split second I reacted and took in that those drivers too, had narrowly avoided hitting the police cruiser which was proceeding straight through the red light.

The officer gestured that I should pull into a nearby parking lot. I did, immediately. Her partner, a young man with a ruddy face and an endearing expression approached my car.

“You came pretty close to hitting us back there,” he said.

“But the light was green. I didn’t hear a siren; you didn’t have your lights on.”

He shrugged. “Maybe you had your radio on?”

“No.” I didn’t.

He glanced in the back of my car, Graham fidgeted.

Talkin’ to your baby?”

“He was asleep until just now.” I gulped. “I was watching the lights and the intersection. No one was stopped. Those two other cars almost hit you too.”

“Wait here.”

He went back to the cruiser where his partner still sat, glaring at me.

I waited. And waited. Graham started to wail. It was 15 minutes before he returned.

“I’m gonna have to charge with you failure to stop.” He looked at Graham. “Is he okay?”

“He’s just frustrated,” I said. “We both are.”

The police officer sighed and I thought I saw something flash across his face. Sheepishness?

Emboldened I stammered, “I’m a very careful driver. You didn’t have your siren or your lights on. Someone less careful would have hit you.”

He leaned in and handed me a ticket. “Go to court,” he said. “It’ll get knocked down.”

And so I did.

It was a few weeks ago. I took a holiday day from work, partially so I could attend and partially to attend to a million other errands I had been neglecting.

He was there. In a nice suit and looking younger than I remembered.

The prosecutor pulled us aside. “So, you can plead guilty and we’ll accept an $80 fine and no points. Does that work?”

Inexplicably my eyes filled with tears.

“I
did stop. I know you think I’m just some stupid woman driver, but I’m not. I have spent years studying how to maneuver a few tons of metal around.”

Both men shuffled uncomfortably.

“Do you want a trial?”

I sniffled and nodded, mortified because the tears would not stop coming.

“I can’t plead guilty to something I didn’t do.”


And so I got a trial date two weeks hence. And on the way out I fell in step beside the young officer.

“What did you mean by that?” he asked.

I shrugged, embarrassed now. “I’m a pilot.”

“Wow, cool.” We walked in companionable silence.

“You know, you could be a Formula One driver. You still almost hit me.”

I stopped.

“You looked at me like I was some kind of cliché, silly woman driver. But if I didn’t have the training I have, I would have hit you. You know those other cars almost hit you too.”

“Yes.”

“How come they never heard your siren or saw your lights?”

He shrugged. “You have to do what you think is right.”

I showed up for the 1:30 p.m. trial yesterday on my lunch, with the naïve hope that I could make it back to work within my allotted hour.

The young officer saw me enter and scooted over to sit beside me.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” he said. “If it’s financial, I could talk to the prosecutor.”

I bit my lip and sighed.

“I don’t want to sway you. But you stand a real good chance of getting convicted.”

I looked at him. All of a sudden I felt tired, exhausted really.

I thought about how busy my life was lately. I thought about what a long and difficult winter, financially and emotionally, Rob and I have endured: about how many things, important things, have caused me stress over the last several months.

I thought about a piece I wrote a few months back in which I expressed a desire to teach Graham which battles are worth fighting. I considered that if I left in the next 10 minutes I wouldn’t have to use any more holiday time.

I thought about how my dogged insistence on doing things the hard way has always made things difficult for me. I thought about how I wished that Graham would learn a better way.

And I sighed and I lifted my damn stubborn, figurative foot off the brakes.

“I want to move forward,” I said.

He smiled.

So I pleaded guilty and accepted a reduced fine: $50 and no points.

But I still asked for, and received, 90 days to pay it.

Because I don’t want the Man to think I’m dead just yet.

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71 comments:

Trudie said...

Oh, Kelly!
I read your post with a smile of recognition, thinking all along that this could've been me and my post. I would have done the exact same thing and for the same reasons.
Yes, your wise in picking your fights and yes sometimes people around you might think you're a fool - but ultimately you have to live with yourself and the decisions you make.
I think you'll steer your son in the right direction by doing the right things. Besides - half of his genes came from you, so breathe easy!

kbreints said...

You are just an amazing writer. Please tell me that you have a book out-- I feel like curling up in the corner with it.... You seriously take me out of whatever I am doing... Thank you!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I would have loved to see how it played out.

I have a friend who has been in a coma for almost 3 years now. Her husband was driving through an intersection on a green light when they were broadsided by a fire engine. It was running lights and siren, but it also blew through a red light a 35 mph.

Sometimes the acoustics of the landscape are such that you cannot hear the siren. That was the case with my friend.

I'd love to know where that cop was going in such a hurry that she still had time to stop and give you a ticket.

Leanne said...

Great story. Don't you love the abuse of power? Drives me crazy!!

Jason said...

Oh, wow. What a story. This kind of thing just makes me crazy. I'm sorry. And I'm extra sorry about Jenn's friend and that fire truck. UGH.

b*babbler said...

God - that really sucks. Really.

And the fact that he knew, simply because he was a policeman and you were *just* (ahem) a woman, that you would get convicted is bullsh*t.

Casey's trio said...

What a rotten situation. I commend you for sticking up for yourself though!

Someone Being Me said...

I hate how the cop is always assumed to be right. If I was on the jury for your trial I would have voted you not guilty.

Tracey said...

Sigh... I hate those kinds of situations. Where you KNOW you're in the right, but it doesn't matter.

Momma said...

My son has a trial date coming up for something similar. We got it postponed once due to a death in the family, but he'll have to go this time. I'm just hoping for no points, but they will throw it out if the officer doesn't show.

I'm sorry you decided not to wage this battle, but it's complete understandable. Obviously this officer just wanted to teach you a lesson or something. Or maybe he had a crush on you.

Peace - D

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

Bullshit. Sorry no other word comes to me in moments like that. Glad to see you fight it to the point you did and would have loved to see it play out and I can't believe the officer keeps getting paid to show up at court for something he did wrong to begin with.

I hate swallowing my steadfastness when I know I am right. Good for you for realizing it probably wasn't worth it. A uniform doesn't make you and honest and good person, necessarily.

I'm with Jenn in wanting to know where he was with his "sirens and light on" that he could find time to stop and give you a citation.

KEEP BELIEVING

Laura said...

That is just crazy...WOW...sorry you had to go through all that...errrr, I hate it when officials think they are a higher power.

HUGS!

Damselfly said...

Ugh, your story reminds me of a similar incident. I went to court too but didn't have a sympathetic ear as you did with the babyface cop. The judge didn't even let me tell my side of the story and ordered me to pay the fine and go to a driving class. There's just no beating traffic court, I guess.

Helen E.M. Wright said...

I too agree with Jenn... how did they have the time to deal with you?!?! I also wonder who decided to give it to you!!!

That whole stupid women driver thing 'drives me crazy'!!! Men are just as bad...and I won't say anymore!!! ;)

I am glad that you are all fine!!

Momma Mary said...

It's too bad you couldn't have tracked down the other people who nearly hit the police officer as well. I'm sorry you're having to deal with it though. :(

Hopefully this guy will grow up soon.

Aunt Becky said...

I'm so proud of you for sticking to your guns. I love it when people do that.

Dawn said...

That must have been so frustrating. I to am curious how it would have played out. Great story!

sky girl said...

That's when a red light camera would've come in handy.

InTheFastLane said...

I had one like that too, an angry cop who was sure things were the way he saw it. I took the fine and no points after the prosecutor explained what all I would get if I lost. The fight might have been worth it, but the record...not so much.

kittenpie said...

I'm sorry it turned out that way, but impressed at your ability to stop and decide, mid-fight, whether it was worth it. That is hard to do.

Jaina said...

At least the officer was nice to you. What an icky situation though. I'm sorry you had to deal with that.

Are You Serious! said...

♡ How completely frustrating! What a pain!

womaninawindow said...

Holy crap! I'm so pissed! I can't believe that...really...so...angry!

Krystyn said...

I wish you could have stuck to your guns, but I understand why you didn't! So frustrating that the little people are always wrong when it comes to those that take an "oath."

Kelly said...

I agree with a couple of other posters - where I would have loved to see it play out but I completely understand where you had to step back.

(((hugs)))

Joanna said...

Yuck! That totally sucks! Please tell me the guy wasn't smirking with an I told ya so look.

krissy said...

Ya know what.....if I was there with you there would have been trouble. I would have fought for you....and claimed the cops incompetant.

Because I am stubborn too. And my dear friend, I have read your blogs, your emotional posts that make me feel weak with you. You are such a talented writer and you make me feel your pains and struggles.

I just think you are worth every bit of fighting for so this firecracker I would have jumped in to fight the battle and I would have won! :-)

The Boyds Family said...

Oh Kelly! I really hate that for you - it's hard to bite that bullet when you know you weren't in the wrong. However, I'm really glad that you didn't hit them and that everyone, because of your skill, is safe.

Jen said...

What an infuriating situation. I hope that at least he realized he was wrong, even if he wouldn't admit it.

Karen MEG said...

That is really wrong... I'm with the others, I can't believe that they would still have time to give you a ticket.

I do understand totally why you did what you did, though. For lack of any better way to put it, sometimes the system really sucks.

Brittany said...

Wow. I am with the rest of these women! I commend you for sticking up for yourself! The abuse of power is ridiculous. Sometimes I think they just get a kick out of it. Way to go girl!

Cee said...

OMG that would have made me SO mad!! That's completely ridiculous! Good for you for standing your ground.

tommie said...

what a frustrating feeling ....you handled it with dignity and grace! Yeah for you!

salleebythesea said...

I am glad YOU and GRAHAM were ok and did not hit him. Injustice is so frustrating. You are brave and yes, we must pick our battles carefully...but don't you simply want life to be just??

Rachel said...

That. Just. Bites.
That just sounds so wrong. I'm glad y'all are okay, I'm so sorry you had to through that but, it sounds like you handled it with amazing grace, class and strength.

flutter said...

we should take up a collection, just because I don't think you should have to pay it

JCK said...

I like Flutter's idea and I agree with Jenn. You made the right choice, but man...you deserved to win that one.

Mental P Mama said...

This story makes my blood boil. He knew you were right. A$$. Move forward is right. Thank God you and Graham are okay.

Stephanie said...

This is just wrong. Why on Earth would he decide to move forward with it when obviously you did nothing wrong? I'm irritated and it wasn't even me. I think you made the right decision though. Good for you!

Kathryn said...

This story really makes me mad. And my hubby hears them ALL THE TIME. It is really difficult taking on the police because they are "always right" according to some.
I'm glad you fought it nonetheless. And I'm glad the officer was at least friendly. Why the crack wasn't the other officer there???

Queen of My Domain said...

I'm sorry you had to deal with that whole mess. I don't know if I would have been as patient towards the situation as you appeared to be.

Marmarbug said...

UGH! I HATE that men think that becuase we are women we can't drive. I felt every bit of your frustration in that post. THANK god you didn't hit him but it is clear to me that he was in the wrong.
I'm sorry it didn;t work out.

Alexandria said...

One more reason I dislike cops. They think that because they carrya badge they can do anything they please. And that may be grouping all cops into one group but I have yet to meet a cop that has not abused his power or who has done nothing when they should have done something.

Big hugs to you. I'm sorry you had to go through something like that. Not knowing you or your family, I'd like to say that you should have gone through with the court case. However, I don't know all the ins and outs of it all lol. If it was right for you, thn good job sticking to what you believe in and for knowing what fight is worth fighting.

Tracee said...

I would have done the same and they know it. I hate it but you did the most effective and efficient thing.

We could spin our wheels constantly doing the "right" thing and never get anything out of it.

Assertagirl said...

Look at you! I hope you're really proud of yourself, for the way you handled this. I sure am!

Threeundertwo said...

That would have made me so mad. It takes a lot of character to see all sides of a situation and make the uncomfortable decision you did. The saying goes "you have to pick your battles." It doesn't say which criteria you should use to pick them.

Great post. Thanks for visiting my blog. Glad I found you.

caramama said...

Wow. This totally pisses me off too, and I'm a big supporter of the police in general.

Can you at least write a letter to the office and the department? You've had good luck with letter in the past.

Or maybe it's best to let it go.

Beck said...

Ah, the police.
Around here, they like to beat up teenagers. So I have an almost shockingly negative attitude towards the police, really.

shay said...

I felt like a little kid while I read this post, stamping my foot and saying "but it's not fair! It's not RIGHT!"

Good for you knowing when to fight and when it was futile to continue on. I think your little man is quite lucky actually.

KathyLikesPink said...

So much for the "Police are our friends" theory. Very frustrating.

KathyLikesPink said...

So much for the "Police are our friends" theory. Very frustrating.

OHmommy said...

Oh man... how frustrating for you. I am glad it is behind for you. HUGS. And real hugs in less then a week.

Susiewearsthepants said...

That is so frustrating. It's bad enough when you get caught speeding or running a light, but to get to caught when you didn't DO anything. That's ridiculous. You probably did the right thing. You could have risked points on your record. Those are no fun. Been there and done that.

nomotherearth said...

Huh. I'd always heard that policemen back down when you call them the tickets. Guess I was wrong.

Magpie said...

i'd have been doing that every step of the way - righteous indignation.

The Rambling Housewife said...

I still think you stood up for yourself.

You at least did it on your terms.

Nice job. :)

Ms. Porter said...

aw shit. i totally understand why you made your decision and i think i would have done the same, but that stinks.
by the way, i love your blog...i 'save' the posts for when i really have time to read them. but i also have to tell you that you are such a kind blogger that you make a point to visit my wee little blog which is just my babbling....and comment! that is pretty cool.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Oh this makes me so mad! I really would not have wanted to plead, totally sucks. You did the wise thing, I am not sure if I am that wise...

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

You are a darned good storyteller. Submit this for publication anyplace and you'll have the ticket paid for and then some.

P.S. If I knew where anyplace was, I'd tell you. But you know what I mean.

noble pig said...

I am so disgusted by this. Police do this kind of thing all the time. I'm sorry you got stuck with it. Ugh, it really gets to me because it happened to me too.

WORKING MOM said...

You had to do what works for you, but damn it. You were right, and just because he has the uniform doesn't change a darn thing. But, boy, I understand needing to reduce stress. Bless you, doll.

John-Michael said...

Your Character encourages a quiet part of Who I am. And I rejoice, in a very basic and comforting way, each time that I thank Life for your presence in my world. But I haven't thanked You, directly, nearly enough for choosing to be the Person who gladdens my Spirit. So, "Thank you, Kelly."

Lovingly ...

Mandy said...

Ugh. I respect all officers until they abuse their power. That really sucks. Sorry to hear that you had to go through it.

ewe are here said...

I hate how the police are always 'right' even when they're not. grrrrr

and how is it they had time to stop and stay there for 15 minutes, and then give you a ticket, if they were supposedly in such a blasted hurry.

Stapeliad said...

Wow.
What an amazingly frustrating story.

I often think that "the system" is designed to break us down emotioanlly and mentally just from the sheer frustration and senselessness and nastiness of the situation.

He and/or his partner could have been killed. You'd think that would account for something that they weren't due to your attention and reflexes.

As maddening as it is, I'm glad the matter is concluded and not dragging on. Because it's nothing to them and would just sap you.

Elaine A. said...

I had a court situation similar to this after hitting a car that was standing in the road. I was told to take the fine and defensive driving or there would be a conviction. I feel your pain. Sorry it played out the way it did but at least it's over.

Tranny Head said...

Damnit! I would have fought it for sure - but then again, I'm a biotch and pugilistic. Oh, and a lawyer (almost).

April said...

That sucks that you had to go through this. What also sucks is how many others have, too.

Adrian said...

I'm just glad you weren't hurt. My friend's stepson was killed about a year ago - (yes, killed instantly) in a situation that is eerily similar to yours.

He was coming home from work at about 2 in the morning and a cop came roaring through an intersection in pursuit of a suspect - no lights and no siren and they T-boned him. There was a trial, but no charges were brought against the officer - naturally. And this was the 2nd time he'd been involved in a similar incident. So this could have been a lot worse for you.

chelle said...

Way to stick to your convictions!

CC said...

Wow! What a story. I should be taking a shower, but I was clinging to every single word. Good for you for sticking up for yourself! boo to him for pushing it so far.