I got pulled over today.
Yes, I was speeding. Again.
Yes. I deserved a ticket.
Yes, it was the Washington State Patrol and none of my buddies from the county who could give me a scolding, tell me about the latest batch of chocolate peanut butter stout they're brewing at home and send me on my way.
No, he didn't write me a ticket.
I am not sure why. Maybe it was my winning smile. Maybe it was the genuine nature of my polite apology for blowing by him at 130% of the posted speed limit. Maybe it was that he had already filled his quota. I am not sure, but he let me off.
Given that the trooper made more than one reference to the stickers on the back of my car, I am suspicious that they had something to do with his leniency. Although I am not sure if it was the beer stickers, the Avett stickers, or the Humanizing the Badge #weseeyou on my bumper that did the trick.
As I handed the cop my license and registration, I also let him know that I have a concealed weapons permit and that I have a gun in the car. He remarked that he assumed as much based on my stickers. I puzzled over whether it was Rogue Brewing or the Cascades National Park decal that gave away my weapons propensity. Then he asked me for my proof of insurance and what I carry. I told him a Glock, a G42, as I frantically tore through All Of The Secret Compartments in my car and every wallet lying around looking for an insurance card. Either feeling bad for my obvious frenzy or keenly interested in avoiding writing a citation, the officer began helping me thumb through the cascade of useless receipts and papers from my glove box. "That's funny, I would have figured you'd have a Ruger, based on your stickers." he remarked casually, after suggesting I try to pull a digital version of the card up on my phone. "Oh yeah, no service here." he shook his head ruefully. I was muttering some lame excuse about giving all of my printed copies of the insurance cards to the teenagers on my policy, while wondering if being pegged for a Ruger person was a compliment or an insult. Knowing virtually NOTHING about most guns, I smiled politely and shook my head.
-SIDE NOTE- why is it ALWAYS later, driving away, or lying awake at night, hours later, that I think of the Funniest and Most Witty Things To Say, and never at the appropriate moment? Seriously. -END SIDE NOTE-
It's kind of a relief to hear from an objective source that the stickers on my car don't scream greenpeace or immediately label me as a Trustafarian Hipster. I mean it's NOT like it's a Subaru, after all. But it's also not like I have an NRA membership sticker and a rebel flag, so I am curious now about what my stickers really do say to the average tailgater.
After what seemed like 6 hours of searching, the dedicated trooper found my insurance card for me, filed carefully with the instruction manual for my 2006 Toyota Sequoia. I was relieved, both because the cop was a handsome fella that had me all flustered and because I was having visions of court dates to provide proof of insurance and explain why I was trying to beat sound waves to Colville. I also felt a little bit bad that he was about to offer to follow me into cell phone range to call my insurance company. He then commented on the giant crack running across the breadth of my windshield and how I should look into getting it fixed, and I realized he was letting me off. I was surprised enough that I am not sure I even said thank you.
I've gotten my share of speeding tickets. I've deserved them. The last time I got pulled over, on the same road, probably going the same speed, my bestie in the back seat was high on pain meds after surgery and offered to flash the officer if he would forgo a ticket. Turns out they don't always go for that and it didn't work. I could have gotten another one today, but I got lucky. I wouldn't have been mad at the officer if I got written up, but I will say I was a little disappointed in myself for taking his time when he probably could have been doing something more important... although maybe giving a humbling reminder to a careless driver like me is as much protecting and serving as a State Trooper can get to on a sunny Monday afternoon in the middle of nowhere.
It reminded me how thankful I am that we have these men and women out here, doing their thing - the Thin Blue Line between us and chaos - protecting and serving whether we deserve it or not because they believe in a greater good - a higher order of peace and safety. It made me thankful that they're human and give us breaks sometimes, and that they hold us accountable too. Would I be as grateful for this particular State Trooper if he had written me up a citation for 15 over the speed limit AND almost failure to produce insurance AND reckless driving with a busted windshield? I'd like to think I am mature and reflective enough to say yes, but I am also a human on a tight budget and (as evidenced by my driving) no time to spare, so maybe I would have grumbled a little, but grumbled thankfully.
But maybe he knew that I needed a little break. I needed a little #weseeyou back at me - that while I need to slow down, I'm not a terrible person and can be treated like I am important enough to help rifle though a glove box and get-out-of-jail-free, just this once, maybe. He made my day. Really. And that's saying something since I got to hang out in the sunshine and watch track meets and softball games and spend time with the people I love.
Oh yeah, and he was handsome.
To the Trooper that I was too nervous to even get the name of: Thanks. #weseeyou