February 9th, 2020
I have been doing a lot of driving during the last month. I have not necessarily been going places that are of interest to me. I have been acting as a chauffeur for a young lady who often needs a ride.
The young woman does not have a drivers license. I don’t expect that she will get one in the near future. She has four drunk driving convictions, and even in the State of Wisconsin, where drinking beer is considered a sport, four OWI’s is a bit excessive. The girl is going to have to jump through a number of hoops before she can legally get behind the wheel again. In the meantime, I drive.
Generally, I don’t mind taking her places. Most of the trips are necessary. She needs to attend twelve step meetings, therapy sessions, and doctor appointments. She goes to the gym almost every day. She wants to buy art supplies for her new projects. These journeys are worthwhile.
She likes to play music in the car as I drive. Her ADD kicks in, and she rapidly goes from song to song. Sometimes the young woamn switches stations after only a few seconds. I find that to be distracting at times.
We don’t often talk in the car. She, like most members of her generation, tends to be obsessed with the information on her smart phone. Occasionally, we talk about music or movies. She is a big fan of Chris Farley and Carrie Fisher. She understands them pretty well.
Most of the time, our travels are without incident. But not always. Two weeks ago we drove to central Wisconsin to visit my younger brother, Mike. It’s almost a three hour drive from our house, and I have made it many times in the past. After so many iterations, the journey gets boring. When I get bored, I tend to drive faster.
Uusually, I try to find that sweet spot that is above the posted speeds limit, but still keeps me in the general flow of traffic. The speed limit on the highway heading toward Amherst is 65 mph. However, everybody is going seventy-five. As I drove through Waupaca, I nudged our car up to eighty.
That’s when I saw the state trooper. I looked at him, and he looked at me. I imagined briefly that he hadn’t noticed my excessive speed. I was nearly a quarter mile part him before he pulled away from the median. There was already another car between myself and him. He sped up, pulled in front the vehicle behind me, and turned on his flashing lights.
I pulled over to the side of the road. The trooper stopped behind me.
The young wman asked me, “Were you speeding?”
She gave me the faintest of smiles.
The cop tapped on the window. I rolled it down. He spoke,
“Sir, I clocked you three times. You were going at 80 mph each time. That’s way too fast. Is there any place you need to be in such a hurry?”
I shook my head, “No”.
“Sir, can I see you drivers license?”
I handed it to him.
“Do you have proof of insurance?”
I handed it to him.
He said, “I will check on all this, and determine what I need to do next.” He left.
I said nothing.
The young woman asked me, “So, should I call my mom about this?”
“If you want.”
The minutes crawled.
The trooper returned to our car.
“Sir, I checked. Your record shows ZERO violations. That’s what I like to see. I noticed also that you did slow down for me when you saw me coming behind you. I appreciate that. I am issuing you two warnings. One is for your excessive speed. The other is for the sticker on your license plate. You may not be aware of it, but state law requires you to have the year sticker in the lower right corner of your plate. You have it in the middle. When you get a chance, go to the DMV and get another sticker to place on your license plate. Now, get moving, and drive safely.”
I waited for the trooper to leave, and then I pulled back into traffic.
I asked the young woman, “So, are you still going to call?”
She seemed oddly disappointed. She said, “There is no reason to now. You just got a warning. If I had been driving, I’d be in handcuffs now.”
She asked, “Are you going to take care of that sticker right away?’
She just stared at me.