“Ugh…is this really necessary?”
She put some extra bitch into the word really, slithered those soft vowels out until they were as sharp as a stiletto blade.
I ground my teeth and said exactly none of what I wanted to say.
I love traffic stops. They are a buffet of the unknown. Any given car, on any day, can be absolutely pleasant…with a driver who was just moving too quickly and we have a quick laugh before moving on our separate ways…or it can be a nightmare of wanted felons, guns, drugs…complete chaos.
Perversely, night time traffic stops are even more fun because no matter how much light you put into that car, you can’t see everything. You have no idea what’s going on, what they might have, what they might do.
But this woman? Bitch-kitty on wheels.
I stopped her at 75 miles an hour…twenty over the limit…and when I got to the driver’s door, the first thing I noticed was the superficiality.
The car was fancy and extravagant and shined to within an inch of its life, yeah, but the woman? A late ’20s blonde? Fake hair, fake nails, fake boobs, a smile that stank of phoniness (you know, upturned corners but pushed out in the middle…a sneer disguised as a smile), and so much make up that I actually thought of Jack Nicholson’s Joker.
“The reason I stopped you, ma’am, is you were speeding.”
“Was I? I didn’t realize that.” She took an obvious glance at her speedometer, then looked back at me with that fucking sneer thing she had going on. “I didn’t think I was speeding.”
She looked at me as though I were a lump of roadkill, maybe a used and full condom left in the dirt. “75? Are you sure?”
She snorted, let her eyes wander up and down me with total disgust, and looked at the cars passing, her face getting more twisted up as she watched other drivers watch her.
Here’s the thing: I don’t write lots of tickets. They’re expensive and most traffic stops are four or five minute interludes that just don’t need a ticket. Most traffic stops are people thinking about what’s for dinner, or worried about their new boss, or thinking about their big date. Most traffic stops are just humans being, rather than humans being assholes.
When I write tickets, it’s because someone was doing something so beyond idiotic that I simply can’t ignore it; I can’t just let them continue doing something that dangerous and stupid.
In harvest season, that means driving 75 miles an hour in a 55 on a road that carries huge amounts of farm machinery; combines and tractors, wagons and farm trucks, and hundreds of deer fleeing the harvesting.
The other thing is that I already know if a driver is getting a ticket. Before I get them stopped, before I have any contact with them; if their driving is that balls-out shitty, then they’re already getting a ticket. It is impossible to talk yourself into a ticket because I write action, not attitude.
“I’m a hurry.” Then she flicked her hand, just a little, to indicate I needed to get on with it.
Through gritted teeth I thought: write action, not attitude.
This kind of self-centered narcissism drives me absolutely bug-fuck. How is it my fault that you’re getting a ticket when you – YOU – were the one using your car as a missile?
When I came back with the ticket, she stared at it, and said, “I thought the speed limit was 65.”
Yes, I slipped, just the tiniest bit. Yes, I was juuuuuust a tiny bit of a dick.
“So speeding just 10 miles over the limit, rather than 20?”
She snorted again and stared at me with her empty eyes and her lips in that sneer I had already come to love so much.
When I handed her the ticket, she said, “Ugh…is this really necessary?”
Except it sounded like “Ugh…is this reeeeaaaallllly necessary?”
“Not at all. Slow down and it’s not necessary at all.”
With that, I thank her for her cooperation. She actually spun her tires a little getting back on the road.
A while later, I had another traffic stop. This guy had tapped his brakes but not really slowed down all that much at a four corners in the county. There were no other cars around and he wasn’t speeding particularly badly.
When I stopped him, he was crying and could hardly speak. I’ve had criers before. I don’t automatically discount the tears, but very close. Actually had a woman crying once while I was at the car, then laughing on her phone when I was in my squad. As soon as I got back to her, still on the phone, the water works started again.
“Sir, is there any reason you didn’t come to a complete stop?”
He said nothing for a minute, kept crying, and tried to take a deep breath. It was hitched and forced and full of pain.
“My mother is dying.”
He pointed up the road with his head, toward the next big town in the next county.
I said earlier that it is impossible to talk yourself into a ticket. I knew, before I even stopped this guy, he was getting a ticket.
“She probably won’t last….” He stopped, shook his head, and said, “Never mind. I ran the stop sign. I’m sorry.”
But it isn’t impossible to talk yourself out of a ticket. This wasn’t the previous woman, this wasn’t someone trying to get over on me. This was a human being and he was hurting. This was a man who did not need a ticket.
I told him I was sorry for his trouble, and sent him on his way.
“Trey, what a fucking idiot,” I can hear you saying. “He was lying. He was scamming you. He played you like a cheap Slingerland.”
Except during the stop, a man pulled up behind us and after the stop I went to find out his story. He was a friend of the man I just stopped. He told me about the man’s dying mother.
Sometimes, people aren’t lying to me. Sometimes, people really do have a reason for what they do. Sometimes, they aren’t shiny cars and fake nails.