Sunday, August 16, 2009

A public service message

Last Tuesday, the Man and I had a little chat. Since there's no cell phone reception on top of the mountain, I make and receive a pathetic number of calls on my sexy red phone, and so I get very, very excited whenever it rings. Like Pavlov's dog, I always pick up the phone. Which is what I did, as I was waiting in the left turn lane, driving from Rio Road onto Highway One.

Whoops! Yes, that squad car is for me, I think, as I pull onto the side of the road near the picturesque fields stretching up and down the corridor of the Carmel Valley meadow. "So," he says, (blond, attired in regulation khaki, holding his clipboard, his shadow falling across me) "Can you tell me why I stopped you?" This is good, I think, as the wheels in my brain start turning, gauging the potential value of clever banter with a man in uniform.

"Um, my car is really dirty?" I ask meekly, glancing at the heavy layer of road dust on my wagon's rear window, the distinctive fan of clear glass shaped by my back wiper blade. Someone has drawn a peace sign in the upper left hand corner. "Nope," he says, "Try again." "Uh, I didn't use my turn signal?" I look up at him and squeak this out.

"No," he says once more. "You were talking on your cell phone." "I bought one of those expensive ear-thingies," I reply, "but I lost it..." "So, why don't you use your speaker phone?" Now it's his turn to sound a bit pleading. I grimace. "I can't figure out where the button is." He sighs. "License and registration, please." Dang. Then, I dive into the well of my passenger seat, digging about for my booklet with registration papers, etc. As I do this I realize my backside is up in the air, giving the cop a good view. This seems to have no effect, either. Oh well.

"Why don't you have your registration in your glove box?" (Like you're supposed to, he adds silently.) "Because I've got too much other stuff in there." Now I'm in the back seat, still looking. I show him a Dinosaur excavation kit I'd just purchased for a friend's 5th birthday. This gets a smile from him. "My life is chaos!" I confess, my car at times doubling as my suitcase, camping kit and mobile office.

As he writes me up, outside, beside his car, I wonder how many locals are observing my mis-adventure. In fact, since this corner of Highway One is the beginning of the main artery all of us use to travel down the coast, my story could make it back to Big Sur before I do. Or at least a version of it. (Yes, the following afternoon a colleague asks me, "Hey, what was up with you and the Sheriff?")

My day had been full of puddles of love. I had lovely exchanges with all the people I met as I took care of a variety of endless items on my many to-do lists. The lady I bought coffee from in the café taught me how to say good morning in Turkish, the sad-faced grocery store clerk and I chuckled over the horrors of holiday Musak, the man at the toy store told me he felt like Tom Hanks in "Big" and so on. Perhaps, in my golden, happy-for-no-reason day, I was due for a friendly interaction with the Law.

So, yes, it's very dangerous to talk (or heaven forbid, text!) while driving. Accidents can and do happen as a result, and often. Officer Dainty (I swear that's what his name looks like on my ticket) shows me where the speaker button is on his cell phone. As I sheepishly return to my dirty blue Subaru, parked beside the highway, broadcasting my rule-breaking to my neighbors, he calls out to me, "And hey, clean your car!"


Unknown said...

Whatcha doing up so late.Happy birthday,dad.

Jay said...

So many people still talk and drive that whenever I see them I always think "didn't they pass a law against that...why aren't the cops stopping these people?"

I am REALLY sorry you were the one; and from my observation, you are the Only one!

Anonymous said...

We tend to notice the backsides up in the air, but tend not to let it affect our decision making process.


Sorry about the ticket.