This morning, Frank got to learn a little bit about how the California Highway Patrol works.
I'm driving him to his Thursday Language Arts classes. I'm driving him to his Thursday Language Arts classes in my van that has expired tags. I see the CHP SUV in my rear view, and, as if I could see the future, I almost just pulled over on my own. But who can pass up the brilliantly lit official escort across three lanes of traffic? Not this girl. If I'm gonna get a ticket, I want the full fanfare.
While he's reminding me to put it in park so I don't drift away into a speeding stream of traffic, I'm silently berating myself for not bringing the garlic bread that fell out of the food box into the house last night. My car is fragrant.
"You're driving on expired tags, ma'am. Is this something you've already taken care of?"
"Yes, I sent a check in about three weeks ago, but I haven't received my tags, yet."
I am certain he thinks I'm lying, because probably everyone lies to him. I am not lying, though. I did send a check in. But because I feel like he thinks I'm full of it, I launch into the whole story of what happened. But after a few sentences, I realize that he doesn't care, Frank is late for school, and so I flail my arms in the "erase all I just said" motion, and put the ball back in his court.
He was very nice. I think he thought I was very fragile. He kept giving me excuses I could use. "Was it a financial issue? There's a lot of that going around." At this point, I was tempted to launch into my explanation again, but in a rare moment of learning from past experiences, I just smiled, raised an eyebrow and shrugged my shoulders.Side note: Why do all policemen/CHP seem to have a hint of a southern accent? I think that they think it makes them sound friendly.
He asks for my past registration and insurance information. I curse myself for not being more organized.
I lean over to the glove compartment, and am happy to see that the registration is right on top! But the happiness dissolves as I realize it's just a transaction receipt from the DMV.
Here it is! I begin to hand him the slip, but then realize it's the receipt for my daughter's California ID card.
But what is this? Surely this is...no, that's the registration for my husband's motorcycle.
I'm pulling registration forms out of my glove compartment like a clown pulls colorful scarves out of his sleeve: In a brilliant and unending display.
Finally, after having exhausted all possible forms of registration, I present him with the most recent registration for my van.
"Proof of insurance, ma'am?"
Crap. The hunt begins.
I can't find it right away, and he tells me it's okay, and asks who I am insured through. I tell him I'm insured through Geico, and start to explain that my insurance card isn't in my van because I just very recently took it out to rent a car and how just two nights ago, I was telling my husband, "I better put this back into the van, or you know I'm going to get pulled over." I start to tell him that, but then I add up all the reasons (garlic smell, clown car glove compartment, my hair...) that he may already think I'm unstable, and I trail off after only a few words.
He walks back to his vehicle to write me up, and I find a copy of my insurance information! So I run down all the possible next steps:
- Wait until he comes back and then show it to him. But will this ruin his paperwork and make him annoyed with me?
- Get out of my van and bring it to him, though I'm pretty certain this is considered "bad form" in the law enforcement community.
- Honk and wave the paper out of the window. Yes, I'll do that.
So I honk and wave the paper out of the passenger side window. He looks up and sees it, but just gestures for me to hold on. I think he thought I was telling him to hurry up.
I did want him to hurry, but my mama didn't raise no fool. I keep that to myself.
He continues to "handle" me. "I see the color of your vehicle is two-toned. Wow, that's unusual. It's a very unique van." "It was a gift - someone gave us this van." "Wow, that's great. That's what this world is all about."
I think to reassure him that I am not going to drive off the overpass out of grief. I really am okay.
Eventually, I get back on the road, and promise myself that I won't let what happened last time, happen this time. The last time I had a ticket for expired registration (long story, but it was sort of not my fault), I let that $25 fixit ticket turn into a $636 ticket that I just recently paid off. I'm hoping that this is another past experience that I will learn from.
Hope springs eternal!