On a small stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway between the Pacific Palisades and the Santa Monica Pier, a lone Patrolman straddled a marked motorcycle, smiling in sinister merriment as unsuspecting commuters flew through a 45mph reduced speed zone. He couldn’t wait to catch the next evil-doing law-breaker, and so his swollen wrists trembled eagerly while gripping the radar gun aimed at my forehead.
Today’s speeding ticket brings the number of traffic violations I have perpetrated to a whopping three, if you don’t count those 13 parking tickets from 1998 I managed to collect around a one block area of downtown Salt Lake City. I’ve been driving for 10 years, and so mathematics tells us that I’m averaging only .3 tickets per year. Which isn’t bad considering that I average about 30 mph over the speed limit per operation of my vehicle.
The first moving violation happened in 1995 during my sophomore year in college on a mountain road in Utah. The posted speed limit said 15 mph, which I considered positively asinine given that the curve in the road followed an obviously sturdy guardrail, and the Nazi Mormon copper caught me pushing 50 mph. When the officer approached the car, giggling to himself at the hilarity of yet another BYU co-ed testing her faith in God with heavy machinery, I broke out my Tennessee driver’s license and an accompanying look of charming ignorance.
“Oh dear me,” I sighed, hoping he’d notice how my eyelashes fluttered like butterflies on crack. “I ain’t never been so careless, officer. They ain’t got mountains like these where I come from.” But not even ten continuous minutes of winking and singing my words to the tune of “Good Ole Rocky Top” could persuade him of my innocence.
The second instance of traffic malfeasance occurred on that terrible expanse of asphalt between Los Angeles and San Francisco known as I-5, 97 mph in a 55 mph zone. I was transporting two liberated, thirty-something women to Oakland, both of whom were so high on The Chronic that when the police officer knocked on the passenger window they mistook him for a pizza deliveryman. Greeting an officer of the law with “Yo wassup, dirty?” proved to be a rather numskulled attempt to leverage my defense. I was lucky that the incident cost me only $280 in fines and not my license, birth certificate, or first-born child.
That brings us to this morning, the third and least momentous trespass on wheels. Mr. Motorcycle snagged my ass going almost 70 when I should have been crawling along at well under 45. With no argument, no apology and no remorse, I signed the waiver and inched back onto PCH. And then immediately berated the passenger in my car who also happened to be my roommate and the real culprit in this crime. Why the hell didn’t he remind me to slow down?! He knows I’m susceptible to excessive speeds. Do I always have to do all of the thinking?