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Speeding excuses fall on deaf ears

The Baltimore Sun

The police have been setting speed traps in my neighborhood recently, and they're writing so many tickets that entire forests are being wiped out.

The speed limit in the neighborhood is 25 mph, and of course no one ever pays attention to that.

People back out of their driveways going faster than 25.

We have people on riding mowers who go faster.

So the police are having a field day catching speeders the way grizzlies catch salmon swimming upstream.

One of the people pulled over recently was our friend, Jodi, who had the pleasure of being nabbed by an unmarked car at 6:35 one morning on her way to work.

Six thirty-five a.m. seems way too early to be aiming radar guns at citizens, doesn't it?

Don't the police like to sleep anymore? Why can't they wait until, say, 8 to hand out tickets? That way everyone has at least had a coffee and a Danish and is ready to deal with this sort of thing.

In any event, after Jodi was stopped and the cop took her license and registration and went back to his car, she called on her cell to warn us about the trap.

"Did you get a ticket?" I asked.

"Not yet," she said. "Let's see if they ticket a woman who's about to turn 50 and has never gotten a single ticket in her whole life."

Well, so much for being an experienced driver with a clean record, because a few minutes later, she was slapped with her first ticket.

Forty-two in a 25.

A $90 speeding ticket.

Have a nice day.

The incident confirmed a theory of mine about speeding tickets: whenever you're pulled over and seem like an absolute lock to get out of a ticket, that's when they really nail you.

I began to develop this theory years ago after being stopped on the way to the pediatrician's office with two sick kids in the car.

Both had ear infections, both were flushed and feverish, both were making these pathetic little moaning noises.

I don't know about you, but when I'm driving with two moaning kids, I tend to have a heavy foot on the gas pedal.

So I was moving along like Dale Earnhardt Jr. when this cop pulled me over.

Once he sees the kids, there's no way he'll give me a ticket, I thought.

Then I got a look at the cop as he climbed out of his cruiser.

He was no-nonsense all the way, with the hard eyes of someone who'd just finished a shift in a slaughterhouse.

"Sorry if I was going a little fast, officer," I said, jerking a thumb in the direction of the back seat. "Got two sick kids here. We're headed to the doctor's office."

Right on cue, the kids started in with their moaning.

Oh, it was beautiful. I could have kissed them on their hot, sweaty little cheeks.

But this cop, he didn't seem too moved by the sight of sick children.

I was hoping the kids would kick up the moaning a notch, maybe grab their ears and throw in a nice wail or two for effect

But all the policeman said was: "License and registration."

Then: "Do you know how fast you were going?"

This is a question that, over the years, I never seem to get right.

I usually low-ball the number, then profess astonishment when the policeman announces the actual speed.

Knowing the speed limit was 35, I said: "40?"

He gave me a withering stare for several long seconds. Then he took the license and registration and went back to his car.

"OK, 50!" I shouted. But by this time he was back in his car and didn't hear me.

The kids and I sat there for several minutes, their moans softer now, but I knew the game was over.

This wasn't going to end well, not when the sight of two malarial children in dire need of antibiotics didn't even make the cop blink.

And of course it didn't end well.

Instead, the policeman returned with something flapping in his hand, and it wasn't a prescription for Amoxycillin.

Fifty-one in a 35, the ticket said.

Have a nice day.

I had the same kind of day Jodi had. Hers just started earlier.

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