Speed Trapped

By Margaret Bishop

Speed Trapped

It had to happen sooner or later, and just a few short days ago, on the way home from a lovely beach vacation, my luck ran out! My driving skills have always been debatable and, among close family and friends, there is actually little debate, given the amount of inanimate objects that I have managed to hit throughout the years. However, despite my frequent collisions with curbsides, pillars and mailboxes, I am actually not one to put the pedal to the metal on a regular basis. That is, in normal circumstances, I am not typically a fast driver, but throw in a screaming child or extreme tardiness, and I am off to the races like Mario Andretti.

Fortunately for me, I have been lucky to encounter a number of kind, understanding officers over the South Carolina roadways in the past, so I actually have only one or two speeding tickets to my record in the twenty years that I’ve been driving. One of my first tickets came in the embarrassing situation in which I was pulled over for speeding by the exact same police officer that had given me a warning ticket just one week earlier. As he strolled up to my window and perused my license, he gave me an amused smile and asked, “Haven’t we met before?” Needless to say, I did not walk away ticket-free from that encounter, and several years passed before I was pulled over for speeding again.

My next traffic stop occurred on a particularly hellish trip to Charleston in the rain, alone with my two preschoolers and their screaming baby brother. In a car packed with baby gear, suitcases and a wailing infant, the officer beat a hasty retreat with just a perfunctory warning for me to slow down. No doubt, he wanted to emerge from our chance meeting with his hearing intact and, given the high notes that my little one was hitting, he probably figured he’d get out while the getting was good. Just about a year later, I was stopped again on a late Fourth of July evening on the way home from the lake. My husband was following behind me but, somehow, I always seem to be the person chauffeuring the screaming infant. Once again, the officer in charge decided that he’d rather spend his time screening for intoxicated drivers than spend one more minute with me and my brood. With a tip of the hat, I was sent on my way.

Now that my youngest has reached toddlerhood, the number of screaming fits has greatly decreased and, subsequently, I really have no excuse at all to be careening down the roadways. Yet, I still manage to up the speedometer for no good reason on occasion. In the spring of this year I was actually pulled over for speeding because I was concentrating so hard on eating the leftover spinach dip I’d brought to a “drop in” that I’d completely missed the speed limit change. The officer that pulled me over – no doubt embarrassed (or maybe disgusted) by my own gluttony – allowed me to drive off with just a warning and, thus, I arrive at the recent afternoon that marked my reversal of fortune.

I left the beach feeling a little under the weather, and I suppose I was eager to get back home as I traveled the desolate roads of rural South Carolina. My husband and oldest son were following in the car behind me and, according to my spouse, there was no keeping up with me as I hurried toward Camden. Speeding across miles of farmland, I was nabbed going quite a bit over the posted limit and, this time, I was accompanied only by my wandering thoughts as well as a napping toddler and coloring kindergartner. There was no excuse to offer as I sheepishly handed over my license and registration to the police officer. Peering into my car and seeing no urgent reason that might be spurring me down the highway like a late entry in a NASCAR race, the patrolman returned with a familiar blue ticket in hand, but, this time, there was no warning. I’d been caught red-handed in my carelessness, and this time there was no person or circumstance to blame other than myself. As I pulled back onto the road attempting to explain my error to my wide-eyed 6 year old, I vowed aloud to be more vigilant about watching my speed. Judging by the constant reminders I received from my newly self-appointed backseat driver, I don’t think I’ll have to worry about another ticket for years to come!

About this writer

  • Margaret Bishop Margaret Bishop and her husband, Matt, reside in Camden, South Carolina, with their three wonderful children (David, Olivia and Thomas) and always entertaining dog, Sugar. In between carpools, Margaret enjoys reading and writing as much as possible.

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