It was November 9—my birthday– to be exact (that’s important to the story,) and hubby and I headed to the airport to check airplane seat assignment for our upcoming Hawaii trip (not allowed to do it on website?) I couldn’t stand the thought of being jammed between 2 others on a 6-8 hour flight. You see, I’m seriously claustrophobic.
I was driving (also important to story.)
When the airport traffic light turned red, I stopped. When the car coming from the other direction stopped, too, I assumed he was letting me go (in Rhode Island, a driver can turn right on red, if no other car is coming or if the other allows.) I proceeded to turn.
Next, I heard the whoooo….whup…whup…siren of a police car. The car that I thought stopped to let me go apparently hadn’t…Furthermore, that car belonged to a cop, one who apparently rides around airport grounds all day, in an unmarked car, ready to pounce on folks like me.
Intersection protocol must have confused, him, too, for he hadn’t activated his siren right away. He pulled up alongside, directed his window down, and leveled a cold, hard state at me, saying: “Ma’am…Do you realize what you did back there?”
I just nodded in the negative and mumbled “No.”
He exhaled, pained, as if I were the worst felon he’d encountered all day (I’m a 67-year-old, former teacher who just took a right turn on a red light, but who had the inordinate bad luck of meeting up with a cop coming from the other direction.)
He asked more pointedly: “Do you know you just went through a red light?”
He followed that up with: “I could have gone right into you.”
My answer: “I’m sorry…I thought you were letting me go” (but I apparently didn’t say it with enough vigor.)
He glowered, at this point, and repeated: “Do you realize what you’ve done?” (I just stared at him, thinking “What the H** does he want?”)
Next, he added: “Now, I don’t want to write you an $85.00 ticket but I could. Do you know that?” while I’m thinking: “This fool’s now threatening me with his power.”
At this point, I get the drift: He’ll issue the ticket if I don’t grovel…while inside, I hate this man and I want to say: “Listen, fella, I seriously think you suffer from a Napoleonic Complex (a.k.a. Short Man Syndrome…you know, that need little guys have to push their weight around cuz they’re lacking in other departments.)
I want to say: “Just give me the damned ticket.” “It’s my birthday and I’m not gonna put up with his crap.” But I don’t….
After a painful almost-minute of the two of us staring at each other (with my husband quietly coaxing me, from the passenger seat, “Just say ‘Yes’ (to the fact I understand the heinous act I just committed,) I gave the man what he wanted…that magic words (with serious emphasis, this time) that’d release me from this surreal state that had Proust’s “L’Etranger” written all over it.
Finally, I said it: “Oh, I’m so sorry.” “I didn’t realize” while I filled the rest in, in my head: ‘Didn’t realize’ you don’t have any real criminals here, so you’ve got to negotiate me into this nuts position of admitting how I committed the worst possible driving offense at this airport intersection (which, by the way, is crazily configured, anyway!)
‘Didn’t realize’ I was interrupting your faux policeman’s day (he wore no uniform and didn’t have recognizable police car…for that matter, he could have been an imposter with a quick-mount siren…)
‘Didn’t realize’ (til now) that you’re so damned lazy you’re looking for any way to not write this ticket, thus releasing us both from this Hellish stand-off.
That’s why we had to do this back-and-forth dance for several minutes.
Yeah, I know: I’m not being kind here, but as I said: I thought he (as other driver) was just being gracious………. and after all, it was my birthday.
Lesson here? “Never Sass a Cop!” (Even with your eyes.)