THE LAW, THE CONSEQUENCES, AND ENTITLEMENTS
Oh hell, cherries on the car behind me. He can’t be after me, can he?
Yes, he can… and is. He’s definitely coming after me.
Last February, and for the first time in sixteen years, I got a speeding ticket. A deputy for the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department pegged me doing 51 in a 35 MPH zone while I was delivering pizzas. He pulled me over and wrote me a citation. Bummer.
I was guilty, no bones about it. I was speeding and deserved to be punished in whatever fashion my community deemed necessary. In this case, the community demanded $119 and 4 points. Fair enough. Most communities would want more. I paid the ticket two weeks later — well before the due date — and withheld any rights I might have about fighting it or getting my punishment reduced.
As a long-time member of our local fire department, I have almost daily contact with the police in my local village. Although I would consider a couple of them as friends of mine, I have no expectations about what might happen should I get pulled over by one of them. I would never ask any of these officers to let me off just because of my job… even as I would be hoping upon hope that they would do so without any asking (begging) or prompting by me.
Sometimes, while responding to ambulance calls that are outside of my village, I have contact with county deputies who respond to the scene to assist EMS. I know quite a few deputies by name because of this. I don’t claim to know any of them well.
I had never before met Deputy M_______ before he pulled me over last February. If I had, perhaps he would have recognized me, told me to slow down, and let me off with a verbal warning. Deputy M_______ was professional, kind, and polite even as he was explaining that he was giving me a citation. He wrote me up and I drove back to the pizza store, ready to continue in my quest to deliver hot, fresh food to hungry customers.
I would have (nearly) forgotten about this whole episode by now, and I certainly would have no reason to blog about it, if something unusual hadn’t occurred just four days after my contact with the deputy.
I ran into him on an EMS call.
We went about our business, doing what each of us was expected to do. Ten minutes later, I approached him.
“Hello Deputy M______,” I said. “I’ll bet ya didn’t expect to see me again so soon.”
This sentence was carefully calculated. I was testing him on whether or not he’d remember the pizza guy in a different environment. Shamed as I am to admit, I wanted to knock him off-kilter. As much as I respect cops, it was still “too soon,” I guess, and when I sensed his discomfort in not remembering me, I felt smug. *Smirk*
“So soon?” he asked, “I haven’t assisted (your department) in a long time.”
I stared at him for a moment, pretending to be in a state of disbelief. Then I said, “You wrote me up for speeding a few days ago. You remember… the pizza guy…”
What I wanted to say was, “You haven’t tested for detective yet, have you?” I was hoping that my face was conveying that very question to him at that exact moment. Shameful, I know. If I had been in his place, and he in mine, I wouldn’t have remembered me either. Still, it was in my blood that day to be bitter. I bit my tongue.
“Oh, sure,” said Deputy M_______. “You didn’t tell me you were on the fire department.”
Pause the story right here.
You know how you have moments in your life that you re-live over and over, brainstorming on all of the things that you might have said, could have said, should have said, but you didn’t say them because you didn’t have enough time to think things through?
“You didn’t tell me you were on the fire department.”
This is a “MATRIX” moment, where everything stops and I have an infinite amount of time to dwell upon everything that is wrong with that statement and then an equal amount of time to set Deputy M______ straight in how he sees the world.
Instead, I said, “Would it have made a difference?” Shit. Lame.
“Maybe,” he said.
Last I checked, he and I didn’t know each other. I was completely annoyed. How many things were running through my head at that moment? Not nearly as many as I would have liked.
Why didn’t it make a difference that I was delivering pizzas instead of running EMS? Did it make a difference that I went 16 years without a traffic violation? Would it have made a difference if I’d have told him that I have two girls at home that I’m trying to feed and clothe and put college money away for? Would it have made a difference if I said the rent was a month late because we’re trying to put $7,200 toward a Disney World trip later this year?
“I’ll pay the damn ticket,” I said.