Cordelia’s Mom recently published a post about inadvertently getting pulled over on her way home from work, in the middle of a SWAT takedown. She escaped with clean underwear and no bullet holes, and asked if anyone else had had something like this happen. While not quite that exciting, I’ve had a couple of times that I’ve been pulled over when I was completely innocent. 🙄
For about 20 years, I rode a series of motorcycles 8-10 months a year, from when enough ice melted off Canadian roads to make it safe – to when they iced up again the next winter. This all stopped when I fell off my bike and broke my wallet. Being on medical leave for 8 months for reconstructive surgery and physiotherapy at 80% of average wages, followed by a 500% increase in the cost of insurance for a car that wasn’t even involved in the accident will do that to you.
I used to ride the bike to work. Taking the same route a thousand times, I soon had the traffic lights timed. A full stop at a red light in a car is irksome, but at least you’re comfortably seated. A full stop on a bike means supporting the machine. I learned where to speed up a bit, and where to go a bit slower, so that lights turned green just as I arrived.
One night I left the house at 10:20 PM, for the 5-mile, 10-minute cross-town ride. Four blocks from the plant my road was crossed by another, hanging on the side of a small hill. The pavement flattened out to cross, then dipped down the hill again.
As I approached, I could see the orange light on the cross-street, but no headlights from any vehicles enticed to run the orange/red. As I reached the white stop line, the light went green, and I scooted across at 30 mph. Just over the rise, coming out of the driveway from a doughnut shop, was – a police car. How cliché.
I slowed slightly, in case he pulled out broadside, but he slammed his brakes on. I swerved around his protruding nose and continued, keeping an eye on my mirrors – and he turned out. Three blocks to the main street, and I made a careful, legal right turn – and he followed. It’s the main drag, not to worry. A block up the street to the road my plant was on, and another cautious right turn.
The company offered parking for motorcycles on a concrete pad over an underground tank, at the end of the parking lot. It was under some trees, away from streetlights, and next to an abandoned house. Most of the plant’s bikers elected to park on the cement apron beside the stairs to the front entrance, where constant traffic offered a little more security.
I eased across the sidewalk and stopped the bike. Officer Officious was still following. As I rocked the bike up onto its center stand and started peeling off my riding gloves and leather jacket, he swung onto the other side of the road, pulled a U-turn, and stopped facing the wrong way again, beside me. Do not try this at home kids. Only legitimate police officers are authorized to violate traffic regulations that we must obey.
I pulled off my bug-stopping riding glasses and undid my helmet strap as he swaggered his way over. It is entertaining to see the facial expressions when someone’s preconceptions are dashed. Perhaps he expected some teen/20s rider that he could intimidate, and seemed confused to be confronted with a 50-year-old man, old enough to be his father – but he fired the first (verbal) shot.
“Are you late for work?”
“I’ll need to see your driver’s licence, ownership, and proof of insurance.”
I pulled my licence from the wallet and passed it over. Most bikes have a small, lockable plastic box beneath the seat with a toolkit. That’s where many bikers carry their paperwork. I unlocked mine, dug it out and handed it over. He retired to sit in the cruiser while I leaned on the bike.
I’d had a minor highway speeding ticket about ten years before, but my record – driving and otherwise – is surprisingly clean. After his computer forgave my few minor sins, he returned my documents. I put everything back where it belonged and picked up all my junk and headed for the door. As I passed him, he took one more swing.
“I guess you have to admit that you were going pretty fast over on the other street.”
Canada doesn’t have the Fifth Amendment, but we do have laws which prevent self incrimination. I wasn’t going ‘pretty fast’. He was just inattentive, and embarrassed, and possibly pissed because he’d spilled his coffee; but even if I was speeding, I don’t have to admit it.
He’d eaten ten minutes of my time, and got two words from me for his trouble. I walked into the plant, leaving him to clean up the soggy doughnuts, and wondering why I wasn’t awed by the force of his personality.