Our road trip in June was absolutely delightful with one exception.
One morning my mom and I decided to take the kids to the post pool. We all got in our suits and drove onto post. While we were driving past the some of the cliffs on post, my mom was telling me the legend of Geronimo jumping of the cliffs while the US cavalry was chasing him, and I momentarily got distracted. My foot got a little heavy on those back roads. I quickly put on the brakes to slow down, but it was too late, a post police officer was turning around to pull me over.
I was mortified! I had never been pulled over for speeding before and I am normally very careful about my speed while driving. Now I have a very healthy respect for authority, so I was very respectful and even tried to be charming as I explained why I had gotten distracted. However, the officer was not impressed and was borderline rude to me. (I actually wondered if the Romney sticker on the back of my car had anything to with his rudeness.) He took my license and car registration back to his vehicle and to assess the threat that a mom, grandma, and four kids posed to the public good.
It is here in my tale that we hit a major problem. My drivers license was expired. I never even really thought about it. The officer came back to my window and, in a very condescending and rude manner, pointed out the expiration date. I apologized, somewhat expecting just a warning, considering that he had just seen my stellar driving record back in his patrol car. Instead he started harassing me and threatening to impound my van. I understand that I was in the wrong, but I had not been combative in any way and I was shocked that he would be so rude to me. He said he would not allow me to drive, so I got out of the vehicle so my mom could drive and my mom started walking around to get in the drivers seat. He would not allow her to get in the car until I had "officially given her permission" to drive and then insisted upon taking her drivers license to "check her out". (Is that even legal?!? She had done nothing wrong!)
By this time, we had been sitting there for about 30 minutes in the hot van and we were getting the feeling that he was making wait there on purpose to intimidate us. No kidding. We could tell he was thoroughly enjoying having power over us. The fact that he was enjoying bullying a mom, grandma, and four kids who were on their way to the pool was beyond pathetic.
After another 15 minutes or so he came to give me the ticket. He had chosen to give me a citation for having no license. He seemed to revel in this because I had already pointed out that I was from Colorado and going to court in Lawton would be very difficult and the this ticket did not have a fine, but a mandatory court date. I also pointed out that I was sure there was a difference between having no license and an expired license and I would like that difference to be noted on the ticket. At this, he began threatening me again by saying he could impound my van and that if I missed my court date a federal warrant would be issued for my arrest. Yes, I am a true menace to society.
By this point, I was getting downright angry. I did not like being bullied and threatened by this guy. I took off my sunglasses and stared at him. Not just a stare, but a mix between my teacher look, my mom stare, and looking a bug a want to crush. I have to admit that it was nice to see this man that had been harassing me for the last 45 minutes to visibly flinch, fumble the papers he was holding, look down, and stumble over his words for a minute when I glared at him. Even my kids sensed how awful this man was to both me and my mom. It is pretty sad when you have to explain to your kids that the police officer was not representative of all police.
When I got home both my mom and I were pretty steamed and told my dad what had happened. Of course, my dad scolded me for having let my license expire, but he also agreed that being treated like that was not okay. Well, it turns out that one of my dad's golfing buddies is the commander over all the police enforcement for Ft. Sill so dad sent him an email. I was fine with accepting the consequences of my speeding and expired license, but being treated with such hostility and rudeness when I had done nothing to warrant that was not right. Dad told his friend of his concern on how this officer had treated us (of course I had made special note of his name and badge number). Within minutes, dad's friend responded that he would address the issue and it was a serious problem if one of their men was behaving this way. It made me feel a little bit better that Officer ________ would get his.
So I returned to Colorado without knowing if I would have to return for court in Oklahoma in just 2 weeks time. The next morning I headed out the the DMV and got my license renewed. About time, huh? :)
I wrote a letter, very well written, if I do say myself, to the judge requesting leniency so that I would not have to return to Lawton and if needed that I could appear in a Colorado court. I pointed out how I had excellent driving record and that within 24 hours of returning to Colorado, I renewed my license. I sent it registered mail and prayed that the judge would give me a break. I didn't hear anything back for about a week and a half. I finally called the court. I asked the clerk about my letter and then asked about the possibility appearing in a Colorado court. "We don't do that," she said. My heart sank. It sounded like I would have to return to Oklahoma. I did not have the time or money to make the trip back. The clerk told me to wait a minute while she check my file.
When she finally came back on the phone she told me that the judge was impressed by my letter and that he would allow me to simply pay the $50 fine instead of having to appear in court. $50!!!! That I could do. Phew!!! Such an answer to prayer!
So. Lesson learned. I will never let my license expire again. Now I can't guarantee that I will never, ever get a speeding ticket, but I certainly will be more careful. I still get angry whenever I think of that jerk of a cop and it was very disappointing that my biggest interaction with a police officer was this negative. I can't help but think what goes around will come around for that guy. And be forewarned. I am a menace. At least according to that jerk.