When it’s 2:30 in the morning and there are no other cars on the road, I try to time my speed with the red lights so that I never have to come to a complete stop. On approaching an intersection less than a kilometer from home yesterday, I successfully did so, and started accelerating again when the light turned green.
Then I noticed a police car driving in the opposite direction do a U‑turn and start tailing me. In my head, I’m hoping he pulls me over. I’m in no rush to be anywhere, I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong, and I want some justification for every time I’ve driven fumbled for my wallet in the dark before driving her home in my pajamas, on the off-chance that this may happen. Besides, I’d never been pulled over before, I want to know what to expect.
After a moment, his lights go on.
“Why were you driving so slowly?”
“Cause it was a red light.”
“I had a green on my side. Did you know the tags on your plate are expired?”
“Excuse me? I just got this car in April.”
“Do you have your papers?”
I pull out the three pieces from my wallet and hand them to him. He walks back to his car. Another cop pulls up on the opposite side of the road. I hear them yelling at each other from their interceptors.
“Yeah. Do I have to give a ticket for expired tags?”
“No. You give a warning first time.”
“And then you give a ticket next time?”
“YOU NOOB”, I’m thinking.
He walks back to my window, and says, “Your tags expired on November 13th.”
“Ohhh, my birthday. I thought it was a year from day of ownership.”
“I’m going to give you a warning.” He shows me the citation. At the top, the biggest words are PAYMENT NOTICE. A bill to help the city balance its budget. “You see here how it says total payable is $0.00? That means you don’t have to pay anything this time.”
Good thing he caught it early. Otherwise, I could have been driving a year with expired tags, and maybe charged with a lot more.
“What do I do with this?”, I ask, holding up the citation.
Instead of telling me to throw it out, invalidating his little exercise, he says, “You can put it on your fridge.”