I believe it was poet Emily Dickinson who wrote, “Because I did not slow down for the law, he kindly slowed down for me.”
Then again, I could just be stretching for an interesting quote to start this column about speeding tickets.
In all my seven and a half years of operating a motor vehicle I’ve never committed a serious traffic violation. At least not while in a motor vehicle. But several weeks ago I was driving home from Kansas City when I got stuck in a speed trap.
Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I was belting out “Piano Man” with Billy Joel while cruising down I-70, but I never saw the sign change.
I did, however, see the highway patrol car materialize out of the atmosphere behind me. When the lights started flashing, I kindly told Billy Joel to hush up.
As I watched the officer get out of his car in my rearview mirror, my brain went into full panic mode.
There are many things I consider myself to do well, but reacting in a calm, composed manner under stress is not one of them. In fact, watching reality TV or game shows gives me miniature panic attacks because I start to imagine myself in the shoes of the people in the shows.
On “Jeopardy” I would fail to announce my answers in the form of a question. On “American Idol” every single lyric to every song I’ve ever known would go blank. On “The Bachelorette” I would forget to suck in my gut while on camera.
(However, I should note for the sake of those readers who happen to be my wife that I have absolutely no desire or intention to be on “The Bachelorette.”)
As the trooper sidled up to my window, the neural network that connects to my speech mechanisms went into full panic mode. What am I supposed to say? How loud? Should I be apologetic? Act dumb?
Well, no problem there.
He asked for my license and registration. I gave him my Vogt’s Rewards card and Igloo punch ticket.
It would have been more beneficial to give him my credit card, not that I would ever consider offering a bribe to a member of the Kansas Highway Patrol.
Turns out I got pulled over in a 65 mph zone for driving 63 in a 45 mph zone that apparently existed for about eight and a half feet two miles back. My consolation prize was a ticket that must have been generated from a computer powered by gold, diamonds and caviar, because the processing fee was about as much as the penalty for singing Billy Joel on the interstate.
The officer asked if I agreed to pay the fine. I said yes, thankful that the part of my brain that monitors snotty responses activated. He then told me to have a nice day, I regretfully returned the sentiment, and we went our separate ways.
I never got my day in court, but I did find that there is an additional convenience fee for trying to pay for a speeding ticket online. Which would have been more affordable if, as Emily Dickinson once noted, I was a movie star and could get out of this place.