As I’ve shared with y’all in previous posts, I was a goody-goody. I did not put one toe out of line, or even consider it, for fear of doing wrong. So I don’t speed. Well, let me qualify that: I’ll go up to 5 miles over the speed limit, especially if I’m on a highway and other cars are flying by me at much higher speeds. I don’t want to be a safety hazard on the road. But that’s it – 5 MPH over the limit. However, I am also Irish and have a temper and have been known to act rash once or twice. I know, shocking, right?! 😉
I was 20 years old and doing my last semester of college, my co-op semester, in Rhode Island. My Nana & Papa lived in Vermont and, when I would get the urge to run (if you’ve read my post My Greatest Regret, you’ll remember why I got those urges), I would sometimes drive up to their house. I’d drive from Rhode Island, through Massachusetts and into Vermont. It’s really nice driving north, because the speed limit in Vermont is higher – 70 MPH. However, driving back south sucks. Slowing your car down from 70 MPH to 55 MPH at the Massachusetts border feels like crawling the rest of the way home. To make matters worse, shortly after entering Massachusetts, the road went down to an undivided road of only one lane each way. It never ceases to amaze me how many people can drive 10 miles over the speed limit on a divided highway but then slow down to 10 miles below it when it becomes undivided. *sigh*
So, on this one particularly beautiful, sunny, Summer day, I was the first in line of many cars stuck behind a car going 35-40 MPH in a 55 MPH zone for 20+ miles. And there were plenty of times when the double solid line in the middle of the road changed to a dotted one to allow passing. Unfortunately, there were always cars coming in the opposite direction during those times. I was already anxious because I was heading back to work and dealing with my own demons inside, and this white-haired head in front of me that was so short it had to look through the steering wheel not over it, turned that anxiety to anger. So, as soon as that road opened up to a 4 lane divided highway, I swerved around that driver and punched it! FREEDOM! My mood instantly changed to relieve and then giddiness and I started laughing. I had felt trapped inside of me for almost 2 years and being behind that driver made me feel trapped in my car, too. But no more! I was free and I was going to get the heck away from that car so I could stay in the lead. I felt fantastic!
For all of 1.4 miles.
I saw something in the road ahead of me. I was in the fast lane and tried to figure out what it was before deciding to move over to the right or not. Was it a dead animal? As I got closer, the something got bigger and it most definitely was alive. It was a crazy man, standing in the middle of the fast lane with his hand in the air in the “HALT!” position. I am a smart enough driver not to slam on the breaks and possible cause a skid out that would hit the crazy man or flip my car. So I slowed down as fast and as safely as I could and got into the right lane to avoid him. You know what that crazy man did?! He stepped into the right lane in front of me!! WTF?!?!
I was still slowing down quickly so I could come to a stop and pulled into the shoulder. As I passed crazy man I got a good look at him. He was bald, crazy mad, and wore a uniform. Turns out it was a Massachusetts State Trooper uniform. As I put the car in park and tried to regulate my breathing and heart rate from the scare of him in the road, he stormed up to my open car window and leaned it. He started yelling at me! And he spit when he yelled. I will never forget that face. His head was perfectly round and his baldness gleamed in the sun. He had a small space between every single one of his teeth and he had a mole on his left cheek that was so big, no matter how hard I tried to keep my eyes locked on his, they kept wandering over to it.
He just kept a-yellin’ that I was clocked at 72 in a posted 55 and that he was going to arrest me for driving without a license, car theft and attempted murder of a government official. OK, let’s break down all those charges:
- 72 in a posted 55: I guess the most common excuse this particular trooper had heard for speeding on this stretch of road was that they had no idea the speed limit had dropped from 70 to 55. So he always referred to it being posted and always spat on me during the “puh!”.
- Driving without a license: I used to look significantly younger than my age. You have to be 18 to buy lottery tickets and clerks didn’t stop carding me until my third trimester of pregnancy at the age of 30. To make matters worse, I didn’t wear makeup and for some strange reason, I decided to wear my hair in two, braided pigtails, one above each of my ears on that particular day.
- Car theft: He thought I was 14, not old enough to have a license, so I must have stolen the car for a joyride. HA! Me – go on a joyride?! I couldn’t help it; I giggled at that. It just made him madder.
- Attempted murder of a government official: He was referring to himself. I tried to kill him when he stepped onto the road in front of my car going 72 in a posted 55?
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. So I looked away and started to collect my driver’s license and registration, to prove that I was a legal driver of my father’s car. He flipped out! “PUT YOUR HANDS UP WHERE I CAN SEE THEM! DO YOU HAVE ANY WEAPONS IN THE CAR?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” Good Lord! I was all alone, on the side of this deserted highway, with an armed crazy man and I was scared. Then I thought, “Hey! Why is this road deserted?! What happened to all the other drivers in that long line of cars behind me?!” Just then, they all drove by, nice and slow. I guess they all drove that road enough to know that there was a speed trap where the road opened up because none of them had taken off like me and passed the short, white head.
I had to sit straight, with my back against the seat and my hands in the air. Then slowly slide the top of my body towards the right and even more slowly open the glove box. Then I had to get back from it so the trooper could inspect the box for weapons. @@ (It’s easy to roll my eyes now, but back then I was really scared!) I gave him my driver’s license and registration and, before heading back to his cruiser to check my info, he told me it was in my best interest not to run. As if I would.
He let me sweat in that car for quite some time before coming back with my speeding ticket for reckless driving, because going 72 in a posted 55 was reckless according to the state of Massachusetts. He seemed irritated that my info turned out to be legit and let me know that although he was not arresting me for attempted murder of a government official at that time, he did have the right to press charges in the future.
I was a wreck the rest of the way back to work, traveling 5 miles below the speed limit the whole time. And that is why I don’t speed.