Those of you who know my family, know that I take after my father. A lot. I tend to say he gave me the 3-Bigs. Big hair, big hips, big butt. Ahhh the joys of hereditary genes. But I also inherited from him my somewhat corny sense of humor, my love of music and travel. I learned this weekend that I have also inherited his talent for auctioneering. (and yes, I did just make that word up, thankyouverymuch) The one thing, however, that I have not taken from my father, the one thing that I have never been able to learn, is the very thing that has become the family joke. My father’s ability to talk his way out of a ticket. It doesn’t matter where he is, or what he’s done, but that man can talk his way out of any traffic ticket that comes his way. I believe his record is in the mid-20s right now, covering at least 4 states, and any number of violations. I, on the other hand, have never been able to talk my way out of a ticket. I’ve tried all of my father’s tricks, and even a few of my own, but each time, I end up driving away with one of those menacing yellow slips of paper. While my dad has connected with police officers in California over family members residing in Georgia, I’ve never gotten so much as a condolence smile from an officer.
I remember the first ticket I ever got. I was barely 16. My parents were out of town, and I was in charge of taking my 6 year old brother to his Upwards Basketball game one Saturday morning. In my mother’s van, with my little brother, sister and one of her friends in two, I pulled into the church parking lot to have an officer turn in behind me with his lights flashing. I told my sister to take my brother on inside, and before the officer had even reached the window I was already in tears. I knew I had been speeding (down one of the most notorious speed traps of a street known in all of Bay County), and even though I was just trying to get my brother to his game on time, there was no mercy for this new driver. What made the situation worse, was that he made a big deal of taking his time to run my license, to flip open his notebook, to stand with his legs firmly planted by my window, for all the free-world to see. And at the moment, all the free-world constituted all of my mother’s friends who were also dropping off young boys and girls for their very Christian game of basketball. Walking into that church court was the ultimate walk of shame. Then I had to face my father. Not only did I have to come to him as a 16 year old who had just gotten her first ticket (scary enough), but knowing that he himself had managed a way out of so many similar situations, there was inevitable disappointment and teasing to follow. (Well, honestly, what immediately followed was a week’s grounding. The teasing seems to be what stuck.)
Today though, oh today, was a first for me. Granted, I wasn’t in a car, but it was the first time I have ever encountered the police, and walked away without a ticket! I got “pulled” this morning on my way to work for, of all things, jay walking. Seriously? I work with women who are routinely abused, denied fair wages and this is what the local Hong Kong police want to focus on? Catching those evil jaywalkers? Forget the triads and never mind those silly drug lords. No, let’s focus on the real problem at hand. Jaywalking. As soon as my foot hit the other side, I was met with the menacing face of the morning officer, yelling at me to step against the wall. I was asked for my passport, which I didn’t have because I keep it in my lock box at home for safe keeping. Well, this seemed to really anger him, and even though I showed my American driver’s license (which had he had the ability to run, he would have learned I’ve been pulled for many more offenses than just jaywalking, namely, having a led-foot.) I explained to him that I kept my passport in a lock box for fear of losing it and that I was really terribly sorry for my offense, and that of course sir, no it would never happen again. After listening to him yell at me for a good 5 minutes, including the phrase, “You’re not a child, you’re an adult, and should know better than to cross the street when its dangerous!” (the street was empty), I was giving a verbal warning and told to go.
After my heart stopped pounding I realized, Hey! I didn’t get a ticket!