It's 1:30 am and I'm driving Gregory home. We had just finished having dinner at the local IHOP and we're headed west along Lake Worth Ave when I notice something flashing in the rear view mirror. I look up.
Requesting via its lights to pull over.
Oh XXXX! I'm going to jail.
My birthday is in January. Between December 2004 and March 2005, my driver license expired, car registration expired and we moved from The Facility in the Middle of Nowhere to Casa New Jersey.
So it was a very busy time for me.
I also do not suffer bureaucrats, and the thought of dealing with the DMV wasn't high on the list of things to do.
My car registration lapsed.
I did send in a check through the mail, but apparently, the check is still in the mail (although I was able to renew my license online).
So, the car registration is a year and a half overdue.
The last time I was pulled over for an expired registration, eleven years ago, it was nine months expired and it required an immediate court appearance (of course, that time, I also had no proof of insurance and the car wasn't even in my name).
A year and a half though?
I'm expecting a trip to the Friendly Neighborhood Police Station.
“Sir, do you realize your tag has expired over a year ago?” asked the Friendly Neighborhood Police Officer.
“Yes,” I said. “I just … haven't gotten around to renewing it.”
“Well,” the Friendly Neighborhood Police Officer said, “I pulled you over because since [some street that I don't recall now] I've seen you swerve over the lane four times.” Ouch! “Where were you coming from?”
“We just finished eating at the IHOP at … ” And at that moment I achieved what many Buddhists spend years training for—that perfect Zen moment when all thought is vanquished. “Um … um … ”
“Congress,” said Gregory from the passenger side.
“And … um,” I said, pushing through the perfect Zen moment, “… Military!”
“Okay,” said the Friendly Neighborhood Police Officer. “And before that?”
I was still struggling through that perfect Zen moment. “I picked up my friend from the Dirty Dwarf.” A local pub. “Um … I … um … wasn't there. I … just picked … him,” and I pointed to Gregory, “up. From ‥ there.” Great, I thought. I sound completely drunk!
“Have you had anything to drink?” asked the Friendly Neighborhood Police Officer.
“Um … no.” Aaaaaah! I'm not drunk! Really!
“So I need your driver's license.”
“Here you go, and proof of insurance,” I said, handing these over. “And the … um … registration.”
“The expired registration,” said the Friendly Neighborhood Police Officer.
“Yes … the … expired … um … registration.”
The Friendly Neighborhood Police Officer heads back towards the cruiser.
I'm seeing money fly out of my bank account.
I'm seeing myself in the back of a police cruiser.
This is not good.
It's most likely 1990. Or 1991. It's 1:30 in the morning, and I'm driving. With me are three friends. I'm doing 55 in a 35 zone when I get pulled over. It's the first time this has happened to me.
And back then, I achieved that perfect Zen moment. Every answer was stuttered. Nearly incoherent. Fumbling with the wallet. Very nervous. Very horrible experience.
Amazingly enough, I just get a warning.
A few minutes go by. The Friendly Neighborhood Police Officer comes back. “I'm not going to run you through the sobriety test. Your eyes are not bloodshot and I don't smell alcohol.” Thank you! “So I'm just going to give you a warning.” What? He's handing back my license, insurance card and expired registration. “Just get this taken care of, okay?”
I'm not getting arrested?
I'm not getting a multi-thousand dollar fine?
I'm not getting a written warning?
I'm just getting a verbal warning?
“Thank you,” I said. “And yes, I'll get this taken care off. Thank you.”
As we're driving away, Gregory convinces me that I should blog this.
Nah. I doubt I will.