Friday, March 2, 2012

Charming? or Charmed?

I've had the week off work for no reason other than "because I can".  My game is in limbo, approved for release, but waiting for the date when the marketing push kicks in from various sources.  There's just not a lot for me to do this week, and what's next is in a bit of limbo as well.

I've done a lot of errands and work around the house, but haven't really spent the time I'd like to just doing nothing.  I'm going to take my satisfaction in how much work I got done, and have a relaxing lunch with a girlfriend today to cap the week out.

The other day, I was headed on an errand and I just wasn't paying proper attention.  100 different things were running through my mind, I didn't like the song on the radio, and I looked down to change the station.  In the split second I looked down, I realized that there was a stop sign directly in front of me.  I locked up the brakes and still slid through the stop.  There was only one other car at the intersection, a Seattle Police office.

I didn't even wait for him to turn on his lights.  I just pulled over to the side of the road and waited for him.  I fucked up, I knew it.

As he walked up, I was leaning out the window saying "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I totally missed that sign, I'm sorry" before he even got the words "license, registration and proof of insurance, please."

I looked in my bag, then I patted my pockets, then I realized MY WALLET WAS IN MY PURSE and I had left the house with just my laptop bag, forgetting to transfer that critical item.  I started to stammer.  "Oh crap, I don't have my wallet!"  I pulled my registration out of the glove compartment, and what I thought was the recent insurance card.  Turns out, it was a year old insurance card, the most recent one is in my wallet, right behind my drivers license.

I found not just one, but TWO registration forms. and was so shook up I couldn't tell which one was the right one - Washington state forces you to get new plates ever 7 years, so I had the original plates registration from last year and the current new plate registration.  I gave him both and said "I don't know my license plate number.  It's one of these."

Let's review what he saw:
  • No drivers license
  • Year out-of-date proof of insurance
  • TWO vehicle registrations, handed over with hands shaking so badly they were kind of crinkled.
  • Stammering, beet red woman, who can only say "I'm sorry" coherently.
Then he asked me my name, and I gave him my married name, he looked at the two pieces of documentation and said "That's not what it says here."

Right.  Because I got married, and I've been too lazy to change the title on my car to my married name.  I can't change the name on the insurance until I change the title. 

"Ummmmmmm, I mean here's my maiden name.  I got married."

He pressed his lips together and walked back to his car to call it in.  In a wild fit of giggling, I started singing a little known Nields song to myself, "Capture the Flag"

It all began three years ago
When I was speeding down the road
You followed me with your sirens screaming
And pulled me over
And after I'd convinced you
That my tears were penance enough
Well, you didn't give me a ticket then
But we sure used those handcuffs
- Nerissa Nields © 1993 Peter Quince Productions 

He came back to the car and handed me my sweaty documents.  I said "I am so sorry" one more time, for good measure.  And I fully expected the worst.  The "Step out of the car, Ma'am."  My face was on fire, and it felt like my scalp was trying to detach itself from both my skull and my hair simultaneously.  I wasn't sure if I was going to throw up or not, but I did not rule out the possibility.

He looked at me very sternly and said "You know you ran that stop sign.  That's a 5 way intersection with 2 bike lanes.  People get plowed into here all the time.  They get plowed into by people like you.  People who aren't paying attention."  I started to cry. "You need to pay attention.  And put your updated insurance card in your car.  And carry your identification AT ALL TIMES.  Am I clear?"

"Yes, sir."  I whimpered.

"Slow down.  Pay attention.  Go home and get your wallet.  And have a good day."  He turned around and went back to his car.

I sat there breathing for a moment or two.  No ticket.  No car impounded for lack of proof of insurance, not even a warning.

I've talked my way out of more than one ticket in my time as a chronically late, underestimating traffic, likes to drive fast driver.  I've used a put-on southern accent, a little cleavage, and brutal honesty as effective methods.  I was younger, cuter, thinner then, and I'm not sure what I "used" as a tired, overweight, obviously frazzled 40 year old, but I'm very thankful that 1) I didn't hurt anyone running a stop sign 2) I didn't get a ticket.

It makes me wonder - am I still charming?  Or just charmed?

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