Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Stopped For Not Speeding--Part Duh...
When someone writes to me or stops me in the store to tell me how much they enjoy “Observations”, it makes me very happy; happy that I brought a smile to someone’s face and pleased that I can make a difference, however small, in others’ lives. I love to hear people tell me about a memory a particular column invoked and I enjoy getting the low-down on their own funny experiences.
But one of the best things about being part of a small community is the giving spirit of our friends and neighbors. Last week, I recounted the tale of the ‘date’ I went on with my husband... and how we were stopped by police as we returned home through Rumford. Steven was pulled over for driving cautiously. (Even now, that makes me laugh…pulled over for driving under the speed limit and staying on his own side of the road… priceless!)
I understand now that cautious driving is an indication that the vehicle operator might be intoxicated—however illogical that seems. I understand that there are standard operating procedures law enforcement officers must use when approaching ‘suspect’ vehicles. I understand that it’s the law that a current insurance card must be kept in vehicles at all times. Yes, I comprehended all that. What I didn’t like, however, was the feeling of being considered a danger—and of being in danger, ourselves.
I am the daughter of a retired law enforcement officer. I grew up believing that police officers and game wardens and border patrol agents were here for our protection—that they were the good guys; the front line; the knights in shining armor. But on that rainy night in Rumford, I felt a little bit threatened. There we were—a middle-aged couple trying to find our way through a big town on a rainy, foggy night—and we were pulled over by armed men who treated us like criminals. As I mentioned, it wasn’t just a solitary cruiser which pulled in behind us; there was a Suburban, too. Four cops…cops who made a point of staying out of the ‘line of fire’, cops who engaged in no pleasantries, cops who didn’t make us feel safe. They made us feel threatened.
And that made my husband mad.
All that aside—there’s a point I want to make. On the Monday after that Friday night event, my husband called the police station in an attempt to have the large fine dismissed. He was told to mail the ticket in with his insurance card and the court would take it ‘under advisement’. So that’s what Steven did… and he’s been anxiously checking the mail ever since, waiting to find out what the final judgment will be. Hoping that the system isn’t as screwed up as we think it is.
In the meantime, I learned via that little-understood-but-well-known super highway called ‘small town scuttlebutt’ that someone has flown to our defense. It’s been repeated out and about and here and there that a friend read of our experience in the Irregular and wrote a scathing note to the Rumford police department protesting the ‘incident’. He not only wrote a note—he sent it! (Since the gentleman may wish to remain anonymous—not receiving credit for his charitable act--I’ll just refer to him as “Drew”.)
Drew’s actions tickled the heck out of me…so I told Steven what he’d done.
My husband stopped in his tracks. He stared at me. He asked, “Drew? Have we received notice that the ticket has been dismissed, yet?”
Oops. I suspect the chances of that happening may have plummeted. But I realized something. We are lucky to have friends who will fly to our defense when we need defending—and sometimes, even when we don’t. Folks like us who live in communities like ours are blessed. There are no two ways around that fact. We’re among the lucky ones.
We might have points taken off our licenses unnecessarily and we might pay ridiculous fines, but by golly—we’ve got each other.