Friday, January 7, 2011

My Friends in Blue...

It's happened to many of us. You're driving fast, not paying that much attention, or you "forgot" that intersection was NO TURN ON RED. Then, you see those blue lights. You say to yourself, "Oh crap, I hope they're not pulling me over." Most of the time, they aren't pulling you over. But sometimes, yup, it's YOU they want...
When this happens to me, I implement steps my friend Drew told me will help get you out of a ticket:
1. Turn your car off and put the keys on the dashboard
2. Get your license and registration out and ready
3. Keep both hands in plain view
4. Smile as you hand your license and registration to the officer
5. If you know what you did wrong, admit it
Believe me, it works. Below are just two of the warnings I have received over the years, and they aren't the only ones. The first one was just for a broken light, so I had no idea why I was being pulled over. The second was a blatant disregard for a stop sign right in front of a police cruiser at the intersection. I followed the steps, and when he asked me if I saw the stop sign I was honest. I said, "Well, I was looking over at you and wanted to make sure I wasn't speeding so I think I didn't notice it." As you can see, he let me off with a warning.

Another time I was driving in Westboro on Lyman Street. There was a car pulling into Tatnuck Bookseller, and as I pulled around him I also crossed over the double yellow line. Just as I was doing this, I noticed a police car coming the other way on Lyman. Seconds after I took a right turn onto Main Street, I was being pulled over. As I handed the officer my credentials, I smiled and said "Double line violation, right?" He came back to my car after running my info and told me my honesty was refreshing and gave me a warning. A similar thing happened when I lived in Waltham. I was driving back to my apartment from getting paper to print my first draft of the first screenplay I had written. I told the officer I was excited to get home to print it, and he laughed and asked me if there were any police officer parts in the movie (If 6 Boston College Police Officers struggling to get a drunk student onto an ambulance count, then yes there are).
Even though I never received a written ticket or warning of any kind, my favorite "Friends in Blue" story happened during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college (this was before Drew had given me his advice). I was driving back from a Red Sox game with my brother Tom and we were on Main Street in Westboro. I saw a police cruiser signaling to turn into the station, and kept driving to take a left onto Ruggles Street. I guess the officer wasn't happy I didn't let him turn, because he made a U-turn and he pulled me over on Ruggles. I could tell right away he was upset. Very sternly and with authority he belted out, "You were going 35 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour zone, do you know what that means?" I wanted to say "I don't get a ticket?", but I kept my mouth shut. He continued and said " I see this car speeding by my house ALL the time. You have a passenger with no seatbelt on and his feet out the window!"
"I'm sorry" was the only thing I could come up with.
"You shouldn't be apologizing to me!", he said.
So, I did the only thing a 19-year-old wiseass thought was appropriate: I turned to my brother Tom and said, "Sorry."
He didn't give me a ticket or a warning, I think he just wanted to remind me who was in charge.
Even with this story, I must say that most of my run-ins with my friends in blue have been pleasant ones - even when I have been, without a doubt, on the wrong side of the law. I'm sure there are police officers who wanted the job just for the "power trip" aspect of it, but I've been lucky for the most part to have not run into these people. So, thank you to those officers who dealt with me when I drank (never driving!) and let me off with warnings when I wasn't drinking. And thank you to every police officer who potentially puts his or her life on the line every day and night at a very difficult job.
PS - When I Googled "My Friends in Blue" I found this poem and a whole site dedicated to police poems....woah!

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