Suzi Foltz: At least now I know what the registration looks like
Words that no one likes to hear. Words that I hadn’t had to hear with consequences to myself until Wednesday morning. Yes, I’ve heard it in movies and TV shows and when once my dad was pulled over and I happened to be in the car. I’ve even been pulled over twice myself before, but only due to a broken taillight that the officers wanted to inform me of. But never had I received my own personal yellow piece of paper summoning me to court.
It all started that morning before I came into the Augusta Free Press office. I was doing my usual morning activities; raiding the fridge for something to call breakfast, attempting to find matching socks, Facebook creeping, and drinking my daily glass of Sunny D (yes, I realize it’s not real orange juice…). Somewhere during this lovely routine I lost track of time and then noticed I had only 8 minutes before I had to be behind my desk where I’m writing this story now. I then grabbed all of the things I would need at school and the office, shoved them into my blue ’98 Volkswagen Bug, and took off.
I was driving down Old White Bridge Road, a rural road that is 55 mph with lower markings for specified curves. This is a road that I have driven down at least twice a day, every day since I’ve had my license; whether it’s for school, mentorship, work, or just to be able to see something that is not a cow field. So needless to say, it’s a road that I feel pretty comfortable on. I know the rough spots, I know how fast I can take the turns in my car, and I know all the little roads where a car could turn onto Old White Bridge. With all of this said, I was probably going a little too fast…
Towards the end of the road, you are entering the “city” of Waynesboro, and the road becomes residential and therefore is marked as 35 mph. At this point, I was honestly slowing down from whatever speed I had been going, but I suppose I did not do this in time, because the flashing blue lights appeared in my mirror.
The police car was all black, one of those undercover cop cars, the kind that frustrate drivers even more because they’re thinking they’re getting away with whatever they’re doing and then bam…pulled over.
I slowed my car to a stop as far over as I could, which wasn’t very far, because there is not much of a shoulder on this part of the road. My stopping point happened to also be right in front of the house of a friend of mine. I was silently thanking the fact that she was in school, and therefore not home to see this occurrence and text everyone in her phone about it, when the officer got out of his car.
Flashbacks of my sophomore year in Driver’s Ed class popped into my head. I could picture Coach Grove in his slow, slurred, southern accent saying alright, “if’n you’re gonna get pulled over you wanna be your politest. Make sure you have your winder down and your radio is cut off. Don’t be fiddlin’ with stuff. Ladies, don’t try to, ahem, promote yourselfs, cuz this’ll jist make it worse. Look em in the eye and say ‘yes, sir’.”
Despite the many differences of opinion I had with Coach Grove, I followed all the advice he had given me. I even quickly tried to get rid of my gum by sticking it to a piece of paper shoved in between my seats (a fun tidbit that I forgot about until later that afternoon). When the expected ‘license and registration’ came I pulled out my license and opened my glove box to find my registration.
“Uhm…sir, to be honest, I don’t exactly know what the registration looks like. I’ve never had to do this before,” I tried to explain as I pulled out air-fresheners, artificial flowers, and a page of stickers.
For a second he just looked at me; a look that I bet a lot of clueless teenage girls get from him. I pulled blindly at a paper and held it out to him.
“Is this it?”
“Oh…how about this?”
-Blind grab take 2-
“Well, what exactly do they look like? This?”
“I think it’d be in that envelope there.”
“Oh okay, thank you, Sir.”
Why the hell was I thanking him? He was giving me a ticket. I was late for work. I’d have to pay a fine. Possibly attend driving school. Tell my parents about this fun little encounter. And here I was saying “thank you” in what I can only describe as my speaking-to-an-authority-default-cheerleader voice.
The officer informed me that I had been going 51 in a 35, did I realize that? Well, no. He took the items with him to his car with him and told me to “sit tight” for a minute. I did. For a moment during this I actually felt kind of proud of myself. I’d imagined my first police pull-over before, and I thought I’d freak out more. I’d heard of a lot of girls who had burst into tears upon receiving the first ticket. I’ve never been much of public crier, so I was not totally shocked when this didn’t occur, but I thought I’d be shaky, or maybe I’d even throw up. But none of this occurred; instead I sat staring straight ahead thinking (insert first curse word that pops in your mind here).
The thing you get a lot when you own a Bug is weird looks. The thing you get when pulled over by a cop is sympathetic looks. The thing you get when pulled over in a Bug by a cop is comical expressions. Laughs, full on head turning, steering wheel slapping; yes, thank you residents of Waynesboro for that.
The officer came back and handed me a summons, killing the little bit of hope I had that he’d take pity on me. He then told me to be carefully as I pulled off.
I drove on to the office, and decided that before I went in I should probably call my mom.
“HI MOM! How’s your morning?”
“Well, it’s alright. Is something wrong?”
“I sort of just got my first speeding ticket… I know it was bad, and you’re always telling me to be more carefully and to watch my speed, and everything, and I know that I have to pay the fine, and that I have a job, so that I’ll be paying it for myself, and that I might have to go to driving school, and I didn’t even know what the registration was and mom…?”
She was laughing on the other end.
Column by Suzi Foltz. Suzi is an AugustaFreePress.com intern and a senior at Wilson Memorial High School.