A couple of years ago, we were driving home about midnight after a company Christmas party. More specifically, we were directly on our way back from Lori’s mom’s house; we had just rescued her from what I was sure was a lovely, fun-filled evening with the kids. I was driving, and I had not been drinking (this is not an indictment of those who do; you don’t need me to preach that you shouldn’t – it’s simply background to set up the story – really!). We had just turned the corner from the main road onto our side street.
I was confused: Was this a traffic stop? Did he see me miss the cat? Did I hit the cat? Was there an accident at the back entrance to my driveway? Did he just need me to pull over and let him go around? Was I being “punk’d” by a vengeful coworker?
As turned to the right into our driveway, I was forced to slam on my brakes. A neighbor’s cat had jumped off our porch and ran in front of the car – close call, but I missed! After taking a breath, I finished pulling into the driveway, which squeezed between our house and the nosey neighbor’s to the right. I didn’t even make it to my parking spot in the back, when the rear window of my Grand Cherokee was suddenly awash with white and blue flashing lights.
In my driveway.
I couldn’t imagine what he thought we had done, but I was sure that barely missing a cat didn’t warrant excessive use of force.
I was confused: Was this a traffic stop? Did he see me miss the cat? Did I hit the cat? Was there an accident at the back entrance to my driveway? Did he just need me to pull over and let him go around? Was I being “punk’d” by a vengeful coworker? It took more than two minutes to find out; meanwhile the strobes continued to flash into the always uncovered window (another story we’ll save for later) of my nosey neighbor’s bedroom.
The wiry cop finally approached my car, squeezing between the vehicles and our house. He shined his flashlight into the rear seat, and the kids (who were buckled snugly) stayed asleep while they squinted against the intrusive light. I noticed in my side mirror that the cop had unclipped his holster. I couldn’t imagine what he thought we had done, but I was sure that barely missing a cat didn’t warrant excessive use of force. With my window already down and Lori rifling through the glove box for the vital papers, I started off the conversation.
“Good evening officer. How can I help you?” I asked with utmost politeness.
Lori had found the insurance card, but was still digging for the registration.
Besides, I thought, the traffic through my driveway at this time of evening is pretty light.
“Your vehicle registration, driver’s license and insurance card please,” he said with no voice inflection whatsoever.
I handed him what papers I had, explained we were still digging for the registration, and asked him again what we had done.
“Just one moment, sir; I’ll be right back,” the cop dismissed as he turned to squeeze back to his car.
“Just a minute!” Lori hollered through my window. The police officer stopped, and his leather belt creaked as he turned back toward the faceless voice coming from the open window. “We have a right to know why you stopped us!” she admonished. I slunk down in my seat.
He returned as quickly as the tight space would let him, scanned the whole interior of our car, and then pointed to the objects hanging from the rear view mirror.
“Those dangly things,” he said. After a sloth-like pause, he continued, “They obstruct your view and are against the law.” With no more explanation, he turned back toward his cruiser.
“Sir?” I asked modestly. He stopped again and dropped his shoulders, obviously frustrated that he was still standing in the cold answering our pointless questions. He turned his head, and I continued. “Since we’re in my driveway, and your lights are flashing into my neighbor’s bedroom, would you be good enough to turn them off? Not like we can go anywhere,” my uneasy voice chuckled. Besides, I thought, the traffic through my driveway at this time of evening is pretty light.
“Find your registration, and I’ll think about turning them off,” he said.
I was confused. How, at night and from inside his moving car, could Officer NightVision have seen the “dangly things” dangling from the rear view mirror of our moving car in the split second that he could have seen us turning in to our driveway?
Lori was pissed. She continued rummaging through the glove box in search of the elusive registration certificate. A metallic “tap-tap” on the passenger side window broke her from her spelunking.
Looking to the right, she and I noticed a second police officer who had joined the first; Officer NightVision had called for back-up … over dangly things! Officer TapTap motioned for Lori to roll down the passenger-side window. As she did, TapTap took note of the random sample of two years’ worth of accumulated glovebox debris clenched in Lori’s fingers.
‘This is mustard,’ she snarked.
‘And this is pepper.’
‘You’re going to get us arrested,’ I whispered through clenched teeth. My protestations went ignored.
‘And this? This is a napkin.’
Shining his Maglite at her hands, the cop commanded, “Ma’am, stop what you’re doing. Right now!”
Lori froze, giving Officer TapTap “that look.”
“In your hand … what is that right there in your hand?” he asked.
“What, this?” she asked, now thoroughly annoyed. It was obvious what the package in her fingers contained; anyone who had ever visited a snack bar would have been familiar with the product inside of the white, scallop-shaped packet.
Without so much as a pause, she condescendingly sang, “This is sa-alt.”
TapTap withdrew. “That’s fine ma’am. You can roll up the window. Thank you.”
“Oh no!” replied Lori. “It’s far from fine.” She began pulling individual items from the storage bin.
“This is mustard,” she snarked.
“And this is pepper.”
“You’re going to get us arrested,” I whispered through clenched teeth. My protestations went ignored.
“And this? This is a napkin. And this is a …”
I cut her off.
“Did you find the registration?”
She handed me the white slip of paper, just as Officer NightVision returned to our car. I showed him the certificate; he looked at it quickly, and then handed me back the documents.
“Just take those things off the mirror, sir.” Without another word, he then turned on his heel and got back into his car. The strobes went dark, and the two police cruisers backed into the street.
Watch out for the cat, I thought.
- Ever had a curious or humorous run-in with your friendly Men or Ladies in Blue? Care to share? Comment and let us know!