I broke my 17 year streak.
We were on our way home from the Girls Beach Vacation. It was about 9 o’clock at night and we were trekking across the widest part of south Louisiana, the Cupcake asleep with her Barbie movie still playing in her lap and me dialed into HLN on XM satellite radio, freaking myself out by the mile with murder mysteries and wishing I wasn’t arriving in Natchitoches so late and alone.
We were between Baton Rouge and Lafayette on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, which is arguably the 2nd longest bridge in the US crossing 18.2 miles over (coincidently) the largest swamp in the US. The thought of all those alligators below me gave me the heebie jeebies…
This bridge is also a notorious speed trap.
All of Louisiana’s highways are generally 70 or 75 mph speed limit (and most drivers take that as merely a guide), apparently with the exception of this bridge.
Accidents routinely shut the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge down for hours on end but because there is no median on the bridge itself, the police have to hide at the exact spot where land meets bridge in order to catch speeders. A bridge with a reduced speed limit. They wait for people like me travelling in the dark of night, who are numbed by the 658 mile journey alone with a 5 year old and forget they’re even on a bridge as their parish revenue.
The nano second my tires hit terra firma, they lit me up.
Dang it. 17 years since I’ve had a ticket – and busted. I felt confident that not having had an actual speeding ticket would surely warrant me a warning.
As a matter of fact, my last ticket (other than a parking violation and those don’t count) was in Baton Rouge parish, ironically where I thought I was now, and it was for a three week expired inspection. That’s not even a speeding ticket, AND it was still in the grace period, right? Anyway, that’s what I got the ticket for. I was moving later that week to Texas and didn’t see the need to renew, a view clearly not shared by the female cop who was legendary for ticketing on College Drive and showed absolutely no mercy for women. Actually, I don’t think she liked men either. She probably didn’t like puppies the more I think about it.
I pulled over. I just knew when GMC loaned me a red car that this would happen. Statistics show red cars get more tickets, I totally believe it.
Over the loudspeaker on the cop car, “DRIVER. GET OUT OF THE VEHICLE.”
Dang. It’s black of night. Get out? On the side of the road? I’m not liking this. Not liking this at all…
In my stand of shame behind the Buick, I tried to steady my balance from the drag of the 18 wheelers flying past so as not to blow into the ditch, and my mind raced to how bad this could actually get:
I’m out of state. I’m driving a car, that’s not mine. I have no registration. I don’t even know how that works to not have a registration. My proof of insurance doesn’t even have my name on it, it only has my husband’s. My eyes are red from an overdue change of contact lenses and a very long day beachside. And it also occurs to me as I am standing in front of the cop car dash cam that my shirt is totally covered in white powder.
Lovely. I am envisioning a walk the line scenario followed by a complete car search. I will never live this down.
The silhouette of the policeman coming out of the car had hair like Fabio, but he was half the height and quite a bit, shall we say, wider? And I started to panic a little. That long flowing hair did NOT look like it would pass uniform inspection for a policeman.
When he met me behind the Buick and spoke, all hope was instantly dashed as I realized that the “get out of the vehicle” command was a recording. The husky soprano that demanded my license and insurance was in fact, a woman. (I can’t help but chuckle thinking of that line from The Lorax…You know the one I mean.) Dang it, I bet this is the same woman who was gunning for me 17 years ago. What is it with me, Baton Rouge parish and traffic violations?!
With all the charm and apology I could muster, I begged forgiveness for what I thought was a mere 4 miles over the speed limit and short version of Crystal Gayle would have nothing of it. In fact, I think she called for back-up because another cop car had just slid in behind hers.
In retrospect eating those delicious Coffee Call beignets heavily dusted with powdered sugar while the air conditioner was blowing full blast, only to have powdered sugar speckling every inch of my face and blue shirt might just look a tad bit suspicious by the light of the headlamps. Hence the extra cop car I presume.
Rapunzel took my license and the hubs proof of insurance and sat in her squad car while I could feel the burning of fixated eyes of every single driver whizzing past me. I tried to nonchalantly wipe off the powder from my face and shirt and to push all the thoughts about all those policemen who have gotten rear-ended during routine traffic stops out of my mind.
She came back and started talking about a court date blah blah blah (all I could comprehend was that I wasn’t getting my warning and apparently she was uninterested in the contents of my trunk) and said, “The speed limit’s 70. 60 on the bridge.” Then as if I’d be tempted to make a u-turn to streak across it again, she repeated herself, “Speed limit’s 70. 60 on the bridge. Slow it down.”
I slunk back into the car and glanced into the backseat. The cupcake hadn’t budged, head still slumped to the side, sleeping blissfully. She missed all the excitement, which is good. I can only imagine her waking up during all this and getting scared wondering where Mommy was while the car was parked on the side of the busy highway. Can you imagine if she had tried to get out?
OMG. That gives me chills.
But thankfully, that didn’t happen. And if my 17 year pattern keeps, she’ll be on her own before I ever even have another ticket.
Well, as long as I don’t drive through Baton Rouge parish.