Confessions of a Talkaholic

 

The traffic cop may have given me a ticket for running a four way stop, but it wasn’t the speed of my car that we wound up discussing.

It wasn’t long after I passed through the 4-way stop that I heard the siren and, looking in my rear view mirror, saw the flashing lights.

What expletive came instantly out of my mouth I am sure you can guess. What I am not so sure about is whether I can get away with using it in this blog.

Oh, fudge!” let’s just say I said, to play it on the safe side. “Not NOW. Not AGAIN.”

I rolled down the window and watched as the cop car door opened and a woman emerged. She was frowning as she strode toward me in that swaggering, grimly gleeful, you-are-so-fudged way traffic cops have perfected universe wide. Not a good omen. Fudge, fudge, fudge.

“Did you see what you did back there?”

“Oh, yes,” I admitted earnestly. “I still can’t believe I did such a thing…Captain.” Someone once told me that if you up a cop’s rank – and pepper it with a couple shakes of winsome groveling – you’re home free.

Alas all I got was a look that made it perfectly clear that my own ranking was plummeting.

“You don’t have a clue what you did, do you?”

I shrugged. “Speeding?”

“Guess again.”

“Well, I didn’t hit anybody! I’d have noticed that!

The cop’s frown deepened as she reached into her pocket. “You ran that four-way stop back there. And you’re in a school zone.”

I eyed the pad she had pulled out with the same dread Superman undoubtedly felt for kryptonite.

“Please,” I begged the cop. “Please, don’t give me a ticket!” I pointed out my window, toward the parking lot less than a half block to our left. “I was on my way to Mass.”

I really had been, too.  But the cop just stood there, watching me with unreadable eyes.

“To Mass!” I repeated. “You know, church!” For good effect, I rattled the rosary on my rear view mirror then pointed to the clock on the dash. It was 5:35. “See? Mass starts at 5:30 sharp, and I was late. That’s the only reason I rushed the stop. I’m a good person, really! ”

The cop held out her hand. “Your license, please.”

I complied with what I hoped was regal disdain. Inwardly I was a sweaty wreck.

For the first time, she smiled. “Wait here, please.”

Loathing her fiercely, I watched as she did her John Wayne strut back to her car. Then I buzzed up the window, popped the door locks just to hit something, contemplated banging my head repeatedly against the steering wheel, and forced myself to take deep breaths. A truck passed – a big one, and the ground rattled – and, as my rosary quivered in its wake, I found myself thinking about St. Teresa of Avila. Lord, the saint is reputed to have said after she was bucked off a horse into the river. If this is how you treat your friends, it is no wonder you have so few!

“Oh I am so fudged,” I breathed, laying my forehead against the steering wheel.

There was a knock at my window, and I looked up. It was the cop, making roll down the window motions.

“So…you have two prior tickets in the past year,” she informed me. “A banner year for you, apparently. Congratulations.”

I eyed her warily, wondering how she would react if I told her the poet Thomas Carlyle had called sarcasm the language of the devil. Probably not a good idea, but perhaps we could negotiate. “You know, none of those tickets were FAIR,” I began.

No reply.

Heartened, I continued. “The first, I was trying to do the right thing. I was arranging for my mother to move my father’s burial plot because she was too overwrought to handle it and the cemetery guy kept calling and calling and finally, just to shut him up, I picked up the phone, and he was chewing me out, all ticked off because my mother wouldn’t answer his questions, and I had to step in and – “

“I don’t need to hear it,” said the cop.

My head was back on the steering wheel. “You’re going to give me a third ticket, aren’t you?”

“You blew through that stop in a school zone. If you’d paused even 10 seconds…But you didn’t. I was watching the whole time. You could have hurt someone, do you realize that?”

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