So, I’m zipping home from across the state on Monday night, right? I attended a lecture at the Holocaust Center that ended at about 8:30, and it’s a good two and a half hour drive to from there to Chez Chili. Do the math, People; that’s waaay past my bedtime.
About half a mile from my exit off the highway, I pass a cop in the median. I was in the travel lane with my cruise control set at just under 70 miles an hour (where it had been for a little less than the hour I’d been on the highway). It should be noted, here, that the speed limit on this stretch of that road is 55. It should also be noted that the car about 50 yards in front of me had been there for miles and I hadn’t caught up with it yet. It should further be noted that there was a car in the left lane passing me when we passed the cop. Anyway, the blues come on, I drop out of cruise control and watch my rear-view. I was assuming that he would go after the guy who was passing me, but he pulled in behind me, instead. “Okay,” I thought; “you’ve got me.”
I pull WAY off the road – I know *I* wouldn’t want to be standing on this road in broad daylight, never mind at about quarter past ten at night – and get my license and registration out. The cop comes to my window and says, “Good evening, Ma’am. Do you know why I pulled you over?”
“Yessir,” I reply, “I was doing about 70 in a 55.”
I was surprised to see his eyebrows go up. “No,” he said. “Actually, I noticed that your headlight on the passenger side is out.”
I did not know this; my headlights are pretty spiffy, and the one on the driver’s side was doing a more than adequate job of lighting the road. He took my documents – to register the stop – and when he came back he said, “Two things, Mrs. Chili: One; I really appreciate your honesty. Most people don’t admit to doing anything wrong. You have no idea how old that gets. Two, I really appreciate that you pulled this far off the road. It’s a harrowing experience to be out here, and I’m grateful to you for making it a little safer for me.” Then, he handed my documents back, reached in to shake my hand, and wished me a good night.
Here’s my thinking; if you’re going to break the rules, at least have the decency to know what rules you’re breaking, be aware that you’re actually breaking them, and be man enough to admit to it when you are. Claiming ignorance just makes you look more careless than you already are. When your answer to a cop’s first question is “um… no?” you’re either lying or clueless about what you’re doing behind the wheel; either way, you lose. Also? These guys put their lives on the line every time they clock in. Do what you can to make their job safer, would you? It costs you nothing to pull way off the road, or to pull into a parking lot or something. Trust me; they appreciate the gesture.