Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Last week, I was issued the first speeding ticket I've gotten in almost 19 years. Seeing the blue lights in my rearview mirror, I pulled over onto the shoulder of the road and rolled down my window. As I sat there waiting for the officer to walk over, a vivid memory of my dad came flooding back to me; I would venture to guess it isn't too often that a person who is about to be ticketed for speeding has a smile on their face and a sparkle of tears of joy in their eyes as they hand over their license and registration as I did, but having the flash of the good memory made it worth the price of the ticket to me.
As I've mentioned, my dad hated to be late to anything. While I was growing up, that desire to be not just on-time but EARLY often translated into driving above the speed limit for him, especially considering there were four females that he had to get out the door and into the car before we even got on the road. As a result, he got lots of speeding tickets over the years, especially on long distance trips, which we took as a family pretty often.
It wasn't as if he didn't try not to get speeding tickets: I remember when those label makers first came out on the market and Dad was so excited to buy one. He used that thing to make sticky labels not so much for organizing and identifying things as I'm pretty sure it was intended to be used but much more for creating reminder notes for himself, including several "Don't speed" messages that he put on the dashboard of the car.
I also remember him putting sticky notes up in the car to keep an ongoing tally of how many "points" he had from speeding tickets; he was always worried that he would lose track and go over the limit, which would have resulted in a suspension of his driver's license.
The other thing he did to try to keep from getting too many speeding tickets was to buy a radar detector, or, as we called it, a Fuzz Buster. That worked pretty well for awhile, until the police caught on to what people were doing and started just pulsing their radar guns at cars to keep drivers from getting a warning; that presented a problem for Dad, especially when we had to drive through states with "no radar detector" laws. Dad couldn't keep track of which states ticketed drivers for that and which didn't, and so he just used his anyway anywhere we went and then, whenever he got zapped by a pulsing radar gun, he quickly unplugged the Fuzz Buster and threw it to us kids in the back seat of the car so we could get in on the conspiracy and hide it for him, which we thought was great fun.
Another thing I remember about Dad's speedy driving habit is how much he hated it when the Sammy Hagar song "I Can't Drive 55" came out, which I think was in the mid-80's when the national speed limit was changed to a maximum of 55 MPH, something that Dad thought was very un-American.
In the times when he did get pulled over, he was always a good sport about it, typical of his "win some/lose some" mentality. In fact, I guess he thought the officer that was pulling him over deserved a laugh because he often tried to joke with him or her by doing things like rolling down his window and then acting like he was placing an order at a fast-food drive thru window: "I'll have a hamburger, an order of fries, and a large Diet Coke," he'd say, sometimes getting a laugh from the cop and other times getting a really mean scowl, which we later had fun imitating amongst ourselves in the backseat after Dad had taken his ticket and sped off again.