I’d Have Preferred the Ticket!

By Linda O'Connell

I’d Have Preferred the Ticket!

Most people zip down the interstate highways like they’re at a race track; young people flash by me a in a blur, and whenever I see an old guy in a Corvette, I just signal and move to the slow lane, as I know he is reliving his youth, a time in his life when he had more agility and less sense. I am not taking any chances. I keep my speedometer in the safe zone.

Some days are so hectic it seems all I do is speed here and there, and when I arrive at my destination, I am exhausted. I never drive more than two miles above the speed limit. Even then, I always have one eye on the road and one in my rear view mirror, which is probably more dangerous than my speeding. I imagine the reflection of red and blue cruiser lights illuminating my car, flashing like a disco ball, causing everyone to gawk at me in ratty clothes, having a bad hair day. I just know that strangers will point and stare, and worse, I’ll be recognized by people I know who will taunt me forever. I visualize myself pleading with an officer, being told to exit my car so he or she can search my vehicle. I can see myself standing at the side of the road, cuffed, embarrassed, kicking the dirt and my own behind for speeding and not pitching the contraband which I’m certain he or she can sniff without a police dog, because all those fast food wrappers reek after a while. That duct-taped cardboard box in my trunk really is just filled with junk, but will the cop believe me that ten cans of shaving cream, a stack of egg cartons and the dozen empty baby wipes containers are school supplies? I can hear the barrage of questions. “So, exactly what is it you intend to make with all this material? What are you producing with all this pressurized soap?”

My fears are not unfounded; my imagination does not run amok because I write; my visualization is not a result of reading exciting tales. Only one time was I actually pulled over for speeding. I was twenty-five years old. It was late on a warm spring evening; mine was the only car driving down the two lane city street, houses on one side and a neighborhood park on the other. I was less than two miles from home, and I was obeying the twenty-five mile per hour speed limit. Then, out of nowhere, I noticed a car behind me. It came up suddenly and then slowed down and fell back a few car lengths. I laughed aloud imagining my neighbor and best friend goofing around with me. The second time her car approached, I sped up five miles over the speed limit. She sped up. We played cat and mouse for half a mile, we were both ten miles and fifty dollars into a traffic fine if we were to be stopped, but we were blocks from our homes having fun with no other cars around. Then it happened. A booming male voice, which seemed to come out of the dark park and through my driver’s window, bellowed, “Pull to the curb, and stay in your vehicle.”

My legs turned to jelly; there was no way I could get out if I’d been ordered to. I pulled to the curb and the voice blared through an amplified speaker, “Pull through the stop light, dummy! Don’t block the intersection.”

Tears flowed like the water fountain spewing in the park lake. I was a dummy! The police officer exited his car snapping his ticket book and his gum. He was a rookie, a twenty-one year old red haired, freckle-faced kid who looked like Ron Howard during his Opie days. He walked up to the driver’s window, bent down and peeked inside at me. I hadn’t thought to pull down my long, mint-green evening dress which was hiked thigh-high. My heart sank to the floorboard where my hem should have been. I figured I’d be arrested for solicitation, enticement or bribery. But it was too late. He’d seen my knobby knees; then he looked me in the eye and said, “License! Let’s hear your story.”

I sniffled and held up my tiny evening bag. “I left it at home in my real purse. I live right up there a few blocks away. I can get it for you. My husband drove tonight to the wedding, and my son spilled a drink all over my lap. See? My dress is drenched. I was going home to change my clothes, so I can return to the wedding. My son. My baby. My poor son. I have to get back to the wedding.” I blubbered and wept like my three year old little boy who had spilled his white soda all over my lap.

The young officer looked at me sympathetically and flipped his ticket book shut. His voice softened. “Ma’am, if it’s your son’s wedding, you go ahead on home and change your dress and get on back to the reception, but drive the speed limit. Have a nice night.”

I signaled a turn and went home to change. All the way to my house and back to the reception, I alternated between crying and hysterical laughter. I hee-hawed because I didn’t get a speeding ticket, and I bawled at the thought that the kid cop, four years younger than I, thought I looked old enough to have a son who was getting married.

I’d have preferred the speeding ticket!

About this writer

  • Linda O’ConnellLinda O’Connell is a seasoned preschool teacher and award-winning freelance writer from St. Louis, Missouri. Her prose and poetry have appeared in books, magazines and anthologies. As Linda waltzed through the decades, she discovered her age of elegance was in her forties, but she isn’t complaining. Life has been an adventure. Linda resides in the Midwest but her heart and soul hang out at the beach.

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One Response to “I’d Have Preferred the Ticket!”

  1. Tammy says:

    That ending was so unexpected. I’m still laughing!

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