"Gretchen, yes you can. The speed limit is 55 and you're going 40."
"Ahhh! I think the car is starting to shake!"
"It's fine. You know you can get pulled over for going under the speed limit?"
This was a conversation that took place between my mom and me when I was 15 years old while driving home from a family picnic on the short stretch of highway connecting the two exits in our town. When I first started driving I just couldn't go fast. I actually feared that the car might explode if I exceeded 50 miles per hour. I was content to just putter along at my own pace while people passed me in droves.
And, then something happened. I'm not sure of the exact moment, but once I broke the speed limit (and did not die in a fiery blaze) there was just no stopping me. I found a new love for driving fast.
This has been problematic over the years as speeding is against the law (at least where I live). And, once the tickets started coming, it seemed that they would never stop.
I am just unlucky (or maybe I really do speed that much). But, you know that you have a problem when the BMV sends you a letter in the mail (and it's not to wish you a great summer vacation). I used to blame my speeding on the fact that my car had no cruise control, but when I got a car that did have it, this happened:
|Sadly, this is my actual car|
I have even tried multiple times to give speeding up for Lent. The first time I did this I realized that I didn't even know the actual speed limits of the roads I drove to work on because I usually just went as fast as I wanted to. When I actually took notice, I was in for a shock. 35?! Really?! I felt certain that this road would be 65. These Lenten attempts did help me become more aware of my speed, and it even got me out of a ticket right after Easter one year.
"Miss, I pulled you over for your speed."
"Ugh. I can't believe I was speeding! I gave up speeding for Lent and I have been trying so hard to keep it under control. I am so disappointed in myself."
"Really, you gave up speeding for Lent?"
A solemn nodding of my head ensued.
"Well, I'll let you off with a warning this time. Keep up the good work!"
Apparently if you appear to be a repentant speeder on the road to reform, it fares well with the State Highway Patrol.
Other things I have learned from my speeding are, one, if you get pulled over by a woman you will never be able to get out of the ticket. I don't know if it's that they feel the need to act tough, or if they really have no sympathy for other women. Either way, it's bad sign if you see one approaching your car through your side view mirror.
The second thing is that ignorance of the speed limit is not a good excuse. Even if it is in the school zone outside of the school where you work and you thought the school zone speed limit would be over and you can't see if the yellow lights are flashing because the driveway out of your school is between them and you would never purposely try to endanger children. Yeah, not good enough. I still had to go to court for that one. (But I did get to be on the closed circuit court television. It was my television debut; unfortunately, tapes were not available for sale.)
The first time I was ever pulled over I had a physical reaction: my stomach was doing flips, my heart was pounding, and my armpits were immediately sweating. But, after many, many experiences of being pulled over, I have become desensitized to it. Take for instance my most recent experience. After pulling up my record, the officer sauntered over to my car and said, "Have a problem with speed do you?"
"I don't know what you're referring to." Five years ago, I would have been too nervous and frightened to give a smart reply to an officer, but at this point I am not in the mood for a lecture. (You know, places to go, people to see.)
"May, 2003; September, 2005... " And then he went on to list the month and year of all of my traffic violations since that time. (Which is quite a few. No wonder it took him so long to return; it probably took great effort to memorize them all.)
"Ma'am, I'm not going to give you a ticket today because I don't feel that it will help a person with a problem like yours. In fact, I think it just might make things worse for you."
So, now I'm getting out of tickets because I am a problem driver who can't be reformed. I'm not sure if I was meant to be shamed by this, or just glad that I wasn't going to have to pay a fine. I went with glad, thanked the officer, and drove off (at a moderate speed, of course.)