I always knew I would be writing this post, but did not know it would be so soon. Driving comes with its own set of experiences and accomplishments. There is a phase of driving when you don’t know whether to kick on the left thing or the right thing to stop your car, and every car pulling up behind you scares the hell out of you. And then comes the stage when you hit on the gas and never look back.
Unless you see lights flashing behind you of course.
I have always scoffed at cars being pulled over the shoulder and getting speeding tickets. They always felt like the school children who the monitors had separated out of the crowd to be made to stand up on the bench and hold their ears just because they talked to much or did not do their homework. Being pulled over by the cops was the most humiliating experience for me. Or so I thought.
And then I graduated to the next level – the level of a seasoned driver.
It so happened that I was on my way to the durga puja celebrations. I was running late because of the usual reason. It took me quite a while to dress up, resplendent with the red sari and makeup, not to mention picking up friends, my new chore as a car driver these days. The venue was a good 45 mile away. I was finally mastering freeway driving and had just gotten onto I-5.
Thrilled to be leaving past the cars behind me, I changed lanes till I was in the leftmost lane, the lane for the high speeders. I was following a bunch of cars. After a few miles of driving, I saw a uniformed guy standing at a distance. I thought it must be the usual traffic guy, directing the drivers to drive to a different lane because of shoulder work going on. Even before I knew, the cars in front of me flew away while I was specifically asked to stop.
And that was my first speeding ticket.
He claimed I was driving at 74 mph on a 60 mph zone. Could be. But weren’t the cars in front of me doing the same? I was merely following them. Or was I a better target because I happened to be the last car in the row? And isn’t 74 permissible in a 60 zone when you drive on the fastest lane? No traffic, no congestion, okay I was speeding, fine. But couldn’t they let me go with a warning?
I was fined $144. Not a great news, given my lay off and financial condition. I might contest it in court. I might defer it for this is my first traffic offense. But I am definitely not intending to cough up the money if I can avoid it.
I realized it was so natural to step on the gas once you are a seasoned driver and not even realize you are speeding. I always thought if I ever got a ticket, that would be a slow driving ticket and not a speeding ticket. Somehow, I am happy I have joined the club of speeding ticket holders. Makes me feel like the rest of us.
In school, I always carefully avoided the group of ruckus creating children who did not do their homework and were made to stand up on the bench, holding their ears. Now I feel I have joined the club.