Sunday, December 15 2019 - 9:31 PM
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Worth the Pain

Ok, I hate getting stopped by cops. Who doesn’t? I’m not a speeder, yet I’ve had plenty of tickets. Proof of this lies in the fact that the last three tickets I’ve gotten (six years ago and counting) speeding wasn’t involved. With one I didn’t use my blinker in a turn only lane (yeah, I know, it’s hard to fathom getting a ticket for this). The second was for turning (in the dead of night with not a soul in sight) across a double yellow line in the little neighborhood where I used to live. And lastly (and boy was this a whopper in the $) I was in a carpool lane six minutes too late.

So, you can imagine my chagrin when I was pulled over by a cop who had been going the opposite direction on a rural highway and lobbed with a ticket for “following too closely.” Are you kidding me? I thought. He couldn’t see me behind the two cars that I was supposedly following too closely, streaking past me going far more than 55 mph. I had been chillin’ wow, I was going under the speed limit. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. As I got out my registration I looked up at the blue sky and asked God what it was about me that attracted such attention from cops.

Then I did my best to find out just how Mr. Cop could possibly have “known” I was following too close. He smiled. He was in his late fifties. He said he’d done this for 30 years, blah, blah, blah, and he just knew, because he hadn’t seen my car behind the SUV in front of me, which meant I was probably following too close. Well, if you’ve read the back of your ticket ever, it’s not enough for a cop to “just know.” This dear officer had no evidence and yet it was with a grim smile I knew there was nothing I could do. I was too far from home to contest it. The trip to court alone would cost more than the ticket anyway. I was toast.

Pulling up onto the highway again, I probably would have drug my husband into a jolly old wallowing party, but suddenly we noticed the guy in front of us was veering all over the place. He was in a big old truck and slumped over the wheel. He almost went into the guard rail, then wandered into the on-coming lane (that was empty at the moment). He was drunk as a skunk. My blood turned cold. I’d never seen such a thing up close. What happened next was incredible. The cops had been looking for this guy. No one had reported him that day, but they knew he was in the area from a call they received a while back. Doug always calls people in immediately.

The timing was perfect (since we’d just left the cop just behind us). In less than five minutes the guy was off the road and in the company of the police who’d just given me the ticket. And what a relief. I cannot tell you how terrifying those five or so minutes were. Having passed eight cars, missing two by less than a foot, and a semi by even less than that, we knew this guy’s life was hanging by a thread. We did honk a few times to keep him out of oncoming traffic, but we knew the odds of him getting out alive were slim, unless he could be stopped. And so it was that I came to see my ticket in a whole new light. I think it was the 911 guy we talked to throughout the whole ordeal. He assured us that even two more minutes would have resulted in casualties. He also told us how hesitant people are to call in, as long as they can get by the offending driver. Basically he told us that if it weren’t for us, death would have come.

Was it an accident I got a ticket? No. That I’d asked questions and yakked with the cop for a few minutes? No. That the cop was not far behind us (although heading the opposite direction)? No. For me it was all really clear. The timing of the whole thing was impeccable. And did I mind spending $120 to save a life? My husband inquired. Well, no, not at all!

Clarissa Worley Sproul writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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About Clarissa Worley Sproul

Clarissa Worley Sproul

writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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