Wednesday, December 12, 2007

12/12/07 Littering and...

If hate were people, I'd be China.

While driving to work today, I noticed a cop car directly behind me. Whenever I see this, I'm sure to be extra careful behind the wheel. I keep my speed under the limit, I signal extra properly. At first I didn't know the speed limit, so I kept it around 35-40 mph. Then I saw a speed limit sign. It was 45. So I cranked the sucker up to about 43. But there was moderate traffic, so speeding really wasn't going to be an issue.

He continued behind me for 4 or 5 minutes and, eventually, it started to bother me. So I signaled right and went into the right lane hoping he'd pass me. He immediately followed behind me into the right lane. Probably 15 seconds later, his lights go on. So I signal to the right and move a little to let him by. Except he doesn't need to get by. He's after me for some reason.

I start thinking... Did I speed? No. Did I do something wrong? I can't figure out what. Maybe my blinker or tail light is out. I'm already a little late to work and don't need this. I make a right at the next street where's there's more room and less traffic and pull over. I've never really been pulled over in all these years. So I'm not exactly ready for any of this. I just tell myself to keep my mouth shut. Officer Zweifath (or Zweifurh or something like that - I can't make out what's on my ticket) asks me if this is my car. I say yes. The rest continues as such:

Officer: License and Car Registration please

Me: (I pull out my license and say nothing).

Officer: And registration.

Me: I'm going to go into the glove compartment. Is that ok? (I think I watch too many movies, so I'm extra careful about reaching across my car without permission. I find my car title and hand it to him.)

Officer: Do you also have the car registration?

Me: (I start getting nervous since I'm not real organized about these things. I keep checking and rummaging through oil change receipts and other garbage and eventually find what I think is the registration and hand it to him.) Is this what you're looking for?

Officer: Yes. Insurance too.

Me: (I go through my wallet and find about 4 insurance cards. Fortunately, again, I find a valid one. I hand it to him. Notice how I haven't once asked why we're here. I'm being extra polite.)

Officer: The reason I pulled you over is that you don't have a front license plate.

Me: (I think to myself... You've been behind me for 5 minutes. How could you possibly know that? And do you really have to right to pull me over for that reason alone? And why did you wait 5 minutes to pull me over? You must've been looking for another petty reason to make this worth your financial while. I explain to him the following... It's all completely true.) I recently went to Pep Boys for an oil change. While I was there I requested that they drill holes in my front bumper put my licence plate on. They said that legally they could not do that. My question to you is - How can I legally put my license plate on?

Officer: You need to figure out a way. Do you have a recent registration? (I guess my original registration isn't enough).

Me: (I start freaking out, knowing that there's not much else in that glove compartment.)

Officer: While you're looking, I'll be back. (He walks back to his car.)

Me: (I look in the little storage area between the driver and passenger seats. I find the piece of paper that the 2008 license plate sticker came from. It says "Vehicle Registration" so I figure I'm good. I wait for him as I see him writing a ticket in my rear view mirror.)

Officer: (Comes back to my car.) This is a "fix it ticket". I need your signature.

Me: What does that mean for me?

Officer: It means you need to fix your front license plate and then go to any police location to verify it.

Me: How long do I have to do it?

Officer: You have until February 14, 2008.

Me: (I figure that once I've signed it, I can ask the question that's been on my mind the entire time. So I sign and ask...) How were you able to tell that I didn't have a front license plate? You were behind me the entire time.

Officer: (I play enough poker that I can tell the question really bothered him. Something wasn't quite right. He stammered for a second and said...) I saw you earlier.

Me: (I should've just let it go. But my adrenaline was running a little.) Where were you able to see my front bumper?

Officer: (Obviously caught in a white lie and wanting to go... Besides, why did he tail me for 5 minutes? What was really going on?) On lower Genesse. Have a good day, sir. (And he leaves).

So, there you have it. I wanted to say something as he left. You know, like "Keep fighting the good fight." Or, "Thanks for keeping the streets safe." But I didn't. I made sure to put my blinker on as I pulled back into traffic. I've spent all morning really peeved about the whole thing. The guy was obviously looking for any reason to give me a big ticket. Otherwise he wouldn't have tailed me for 5 minutes.

Between this and the whole fingerprinting ordeal last week, it's kind of simple... I'm tired of being treated like a criminal. Like the rest of you, all I want is to do my job, make a living, and to go home without any trouble. It seems silly to me (in a nasty corrupt way) that we all have to deal with these non-criminal offenses on a daily basis. It isn't right. It's really sad that it goes on in this day and age. And there's nothing any of us can do about it.

Since my grandfather served on the police force for more than 30 years, I've always been very respectful of the police. I believed that the greater good they provided heavily outweighed any stories you might hear in the news. My opinion has significantly changed based on only one or two experiences. That's unfortunate for them.

On a much different and much more creepy note - I foresaw having a problem with the front license plate only 2 days ago. I've been without the plate since I got the car (as the car has no holes and is not intended to have a front plate). So the situation is nothing new. The vision struck me pretty suddenly in the evening. But I ignored it, planning on asking the dealership to take care of it next time I needed maintenance work. Looks like I'll be taking care of it before then, eh?

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