I’m headed into town driving my old, wobbly van to take the dog to the groomers. This is exciting, because several months ago I attempted to take her to the groomer and she refused to get in the van. I thought that this was it, she was never leaving the property, because the van was the only vehicle that she would even consider getting into.
So, I’m happily driving down, listening to music and humming to myself when I suddenly notice that I am currently driving over a crosswalk, and there is a fellow trying to cross the street. Holy moly, I know that guy! That’s my friend, Ian. After the adrenaline spike comes the remorse, compounded by the fact that I knew him! He’s a dear friend! And now, there’s a motorcycle cop at my window, siren pulsing, gesturing to move off the road.
My heart is pounding. Feeling a wave of sadness and fear surge through me, I pull over and roll down my window. I’ve seen this in movies. But I’ve never, in my 29 years of driving, gotten a ticket for anything other than mindlessly parking. I’ve only been pulled over once and that was 25 years ago. So all sorts of fear and shame are battling each other to reach my brain. It feels funny, almost a tickling sensation. But I’m breathing deeply, moving my spine and thinking about what happened. And finding myself amused at the thought that I am sitting in the van that I used to drive my kids to school in, with a gnarly-looking, in-desperate-need-of-grooming dog in the back, and being passed by all sorts of kids and parents, because I’m a block from a local grade school and it is just before school starts, so there is all sorts of commotion going on.
At this point I notice that the police has pulled two of us over at the same time and that he has approached the fellow behind me first. The fellow looks mad.
I nod and smile when the traffic cop approaches my window saying, “May I see your license and registration, please?”
It’s a standard TV exchange. I hand him my license and registration, sighing with relief when I find it, because the van has been sitting in the driveway, mostly with a dead battery for the past several years, so while I knew I’d kept up with those sorts of details, I wasn’t positive that I’d managed to get the evidence of that into the actual vehicle. I wait a long time while he does whatever it is cops do to check on things like licenses and insurance and the like to make sure that I’m not some wanted criminal. I’m breathing and moving my spine and watching the kids pass me by. I love to watch children. They’re so alive and vibrant.
He comes back, asks me to sign the ticket, explaining that my signature is not an admission of guilt, simply acknowledging that I will show up in court when I’m supposed to, which I do, saying something about how I’d never had a ticket in 29 years of driving. He smiled and said, ‘Yeah, I thought that might be the case when I saw you cover your mouth in surprise when you realized that there was a person in the crosswalk.’
‘Drive Safe.’ he says quietly as he leaves my window, and I start the van back up to continue on with my day, heading to the groomers. We’re only 10 minutes late! Hooray!
I drop the dog off and get back in the van. The original plan was to just head to a coffee shop to wait what I thought ought to be two hours until Cinders was ready to be retrieved, but Kathy the groomer says that Cinders won’t be ready until 12:30. Hmmmm, four hours. That’s a long time. So I stop and consciously breathe some more to see what I actually want to do.
I take a look at the ticket, see that I’m supposed to report to the County Court house, which is exactly where I’m supposed to be taking some paperwork for my business to, so I run home, pick up the paperwork and head back into town. I arrive at the court house, quickly find a place to park and proceed to the information desk where I put my two bits of paper down in front of the woman and say, smiling, “I’m pretty sure I’m going to go to two different places with these.” She laughs and says, “Yup!” and tells me where I’m to go.
First I head to deal with the ticket. I see a sign that says, “Criminal Traffic Violations.” Well, that’s a little daunting for “failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.” There’s no one in line, so I head up to the top of the queue and put down my ticket. The fellow looks up, surprised, and says, “This just happened. It’s not likely to be in the system yet.” He looks, just in case, and then explains that I ought to just wait for something to arrive in the mail with information about the fine and what I can do about it. So, ticket and phone number (in case I don’t hear from them in the next two weeks) in hand, I climb the stairs to the second floor where I’m looking for the county clerk.
I head in, and again, there is no one in line, so I show the fellow my paperwork. He explains that the cost will be $47 and that they only accept cash and check, so I turn to head to leave, realizing that now there are six people in line behind me.
I drive over to the bank, withdraw the cash and head back to the court house. I’m humming to myself and smiling because it’s a beautiful day and all the people around me seem to be having a lovely time.
Heading back up to the clerk’s office, again, no line. This time I sit down, sign forms, pay fees and get everything I need for the next steps of the paperwork. As I’m signing paperwork, the woman who is helping me lowers her voice and says, “Boy, did you arrive at the right time, there’s a huge line behind you now!”
I finish up and head out. As I’m leaving I notice that there are lines everywhere. And yet, each place I went to had had no lines for me to deal with.
Each step of the way has been smooth sailing with no waiting, cheerful people and effortlessness on all parts.
Inserted in here is a call from the fellow who I didn’t yield to. I’d texted him and we’d played phone tag for a bit and then connected. We had a lovely conversation about how things that could look bad don’t have to look that way. I’m very excited that I finally got this paperwork done and it came about as a result of his crossing and my not stopping! We laughed and laughed at that, pledged that we would not wait until the next time I almost ran him down in a crosswalk to talk on the phone and continued on with our respective days, happy to have connected even though the reason was strange.
Such an easy and fun morning! So easy that I decide after I eat that I’ll just sit in the van for the last bit of time, waiting for Cinders to be done so that I can come get her as soon as she’s finished and head home.
I get the call from the groomer, tell her I’ll be right in and turn the key to turn the car on to roll up the windows.
Nothing. There is no sound. I start to laugh! I’ve left the lights on. So, I call AAA, they get someone out to me in 15 minutes. In the meantime, I head in, gather up the dog and we’re now waiting in the car when the AAA fellow shows up. I’d been facing the direction that I thought he would be arriving, so when he comes up from behind and says, “excuse me,” I jump and then laugh.
Three minutes later, the engine is running and I’m heading home.
At several stages of the morning I could have gotten upset. And in the past, I would have. But for whatever reason everything seemed funny today. I believe it started that way because I paid attention to my breathing when the first adrenaline spike happened. Though it could also be that I’d spent half an hour earlier today looking at beautiful things and taking pictures from all sorts of different angles, reminding me that perspective is everything.