We leave around 11:40 a.m. to go to Lorton to meet my family for lunch. Mom is coming through town on her way to Florida, driving with Main from NJ to board the autotrain. Why there’s a train that goes from Lorton VA to Florida and carries cars, I don’t know. But Mom loves the autotrain. We’ll be meeting at the Polo Grill, one of Mom’s favorite places. Rob & Carol will be there, as will Dad.
I’ve just turned left off of Alban, where years ago there used to just be a stop sign, but now it’s a big intersection. To the right is Rolling Road. To the left it becomes Pohick Road at some point. There’s a long stretch as it goes over Interstate 95. I see way up ahead at the top of the hill a bunch of cops parked over on the right shoulder. There’s a cop standing there pointing a radar gun at me. He’s nailed me. He motions for me to pull over.
Dawn is pissed already.
I stop and roll down the window and get out my wallet. I pull out the drivers license. Dawn in the meantime has gotten out of the glove compartment the registration and insurance card.
“Good afternoon, officer,” I say as he walks up. He tells me that he’s Officer Kushener, and he clocked me going forty-eight in a thirty-five mile-per-hour zone. He apparently doesn’t need the insurance card. I keep my wallet on the dashboard, and my hands where he can see them, on the steering wheel at ten and two o’clock. If it were night time I’d have the interior light on.
He asks me something like if I’m on my way anywhere in particular.
Now, I’ve thought about this quite a bit, actually, being stopped by the cops, and what to say and not say thereto. I have this general rule where one should say only three things to cops: (1) Yes, Officer (2) No, Officer and (3) I’m sorry, Officer. It’s called inmate sincerity. I mean, anything else is pretty much superfluous. I don’t think I’m going to argue my way out of anything. And I don’t especially want to admit guilt to anything either. Best is to just keep my mouth shut.
But he’s asked me this, and I don’t really know why he’s asking, except that he’s maybe trying to get me to like plead extenuating circumstances or something. I don’t get the sense that he’s being devious or anything, but I don’t get the sense either that anything I say is going to change things. So, what the hell, I tell him the truth.
“Just going to meet my mother for lunch, Officer.”
He’s nice enough after that, saying that he’s going to write me up for a ticket and try to get me on my way as soon as possible.
As we wait, I watch the other cops stop other cars. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. As soon as they’re done writing up a ticket, they grab the radar gun and point it at the first car coming, then flag them down to give them a ticket. This is some easy pickings, right here on this stretch of road.
I honestly had no idea how fast I was going, but I also didn’t much care either. I was running later than I wanted to be, so I probably was going faster than maybe I otherwise would have been. But if you’d have asked me, out of the blue, what the speed limit was on that stretch, I would have guessed forty-five rather than thirty-five.
Officer Kushener returns with his clipboard, on the back of which is a sticker, the word Whining surrounded by the international symbol for Not, the red circle with the line through it. It’s not so much a ticket as a couple pieces of paper. He explains, a little mumblingly, about signing not being an admission of guilt and the hearing date being listed and prepayment and the fifty-seven dollar processing fee.
That seems a bit dear to me, fifty-seven dollars. I was hoping the fine was going to be about that much. It may well be, actually, but whatever is the fine, it’s fifty-seven dollars on top of that just for kicks.
Dawn’s not pleased about this either.