Law

2005-03-14

I got pulled over by a cop yesterday for the first and hopefully last time ever.

Being the social creature he is, Paul was having a birthday party for himself at, of all places, his house. Before I left I even had the genius to print a map and directions off from the internet. I was all set and ready to go, and totally pumped to tell Paul all about how he was a year older now than he was last year. As I drove I started to have sneaking suspicions that my directions kept switching between turning "left" or "right" each time I looked at them, but unfortunately it took me until I had no clue where I was to know that I was hopelessly lost.

Using the orienteering skills I obtained through years of dutiful attendance at Boy Scout hikes where my troop found itself completely lost in the rough wilderness of the Minnesota outback, I stopped my car at the first stop sign I found. Turning on the light, I took a minute to find the intersection I'd brought myself to, trusting that my trickster map could only switch the words in the directions and not the actual picture of the map. Having a determined resolve to celebrate a birthday, I set off once more—my biggest mistake.

I turned on the radio in hopes of hearing my familiar English, fearing that my journey had taken me beyond the charted lands known to the civilized world, when I began to notice that some guy was following me. And not only that, but the jerk had his brights on! What's more, he had a red-and-blue flashing lights on top of his car! "It's almost as if it were a police car, like they used to have in my homeland, North America," I thought to myself. I finally realized what was happening when my odometer showed that I hadn't gone nearly far enough to have gotten to Europe yet, so I thought it best to pull over.

After waiting for a good ten minutes of wondering what was going on, the deputy tapped on the window. We established I didn't know why I got pulled over, though he encouraged me to take a "wild guess:" I "blew through" a stop sign a little bit behind me, which I can only assume wasn't the one I stopped at for five minutes. One possibility is that he had forgotten whether it was illegal to stop longer than usual at a stop sign or to totally disregard it, and pulled me over just to be on the safe side. Since I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt (he did have a pretty cool-looking badge), I guess there must have been another one somewhere along the way.

He took my license with him back to his car, where I'm sure he must have been playing Tetris on a retro Gameboy for the eternity he made me wait. In my panic, I'd forgotten how to read digital clocks like the one in my car, so I'll say twenty minutes for the purposes of this story since that's a) what it felt like, b) what I've been telling people, and c) a lot more reasonable than saying an "eternity." The thought never crossed my mind to turn on the radio again to pass the time either, but if it had I probably would have decided against it. My deputy friend would probably intercept the radio signal coming to my car and assume I was getting instructions from the Soviets, whereupon I'd be tried and jailed for espionage and conspiracy.

Once he'd finally beaten his old high score he tapped my window again, handed me my license, instructed me to have a nice night, and left. I felt relieved, grateful, confused, and still lost. I would have asked him how to get to Paul's house, but the man had just pulled me over, so we weren't exactly on what I would call "speaking terms." Plus, I didn't want them to know that I knew Paul, or he probably would have taken me in to the station. Paul's a legend up there.

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