Oops, I Scared the S*** Out of Him

I don’t think I’m a cold or callous person, but I have to admit that sometimes, I feel less alone when I hear about the big fat mess that exists in other people’s lives (and minds). I don’t want anyone to suffer, but it’s a part of life, and it’s sometimes helpful to be reminded of it.

In case you’re like that, I thought I’d share the story of my really shitty day yesterday. Feel free to be all smug and think to yourself, “Well, at least I’m not that bad!”

I woke up crabby, to start. Anxiety was a tangled ball of twine in my gut and I felt doom approaching.I can come up with all sorts of things in my life that are anxiety-inducing (can’t we all?), but one of them was at the top of the list yesterday morning and I was really in a bad way. The bad mood continued through coffee, and a series of minor incidents only added to my frustration. And suddenly, the tears came.

This was not gentle weeping. This was sobbing like I imagine I would if my house burned down or if my dogs died, complete with hitching breaths and dripping nose and actual (I’m embarrassed to admit) wailing. So naturally I decided it was the perfect time to run some errands.

I got in the car and was zooming along, sobbing – really just letting it go, you know? – when an unmarked police car turned on his lights and pulled out of a side street behind me. I had come to a red light, so I figured I’d wait for the light to change, then pull over after the intersection. So I let myself cry just a little bit longer while I waited for the light.

You should know that there was no hope of tricking him into thinking I was fine. I do not cry pretty, you guys: my face was a blotchy, streaming, red mess. So I was wiping my eyes, praying he’d drive on by, when there was a tap on my window. Yes, right there while waiting at the red light, an officer is tapping at my window and gesturing for me to roll it down.

So he goes, “Good afternoon. I pulled you over for speed… Are you all right?”

“Not really,” I said. Now, mind you, I was too far gone to pull it together. “It’s just a really bad day,” I sobbed. (I’m not kidding.)

He nodded. “Okay, well, you were going fifty-six in a forty-mile-an-hour zone. Were you aware of that?”

I wanted to say, “Do I look like I was aware of that, dumb bell?” But I refrained. “I didn’t know how fast I was going,” I said. “But shouldn’t we get out of the traffic?”

“We’ll do that in a second. Why don’t you give me your license and registration. You know, a young girl was killed in this intersection just last week from a car that was going too fast.”

Gee, thank you for that, Officer…

I held out my license and registration, along with some expired registration slips, too far gone to sift through the dates and find the right one. He plucked the ones he needed out of my hand, said, “Go on through the light to the right and pull into that driveway over there,” and started to walk away. Then he turned back, as though he couldn’t help himself. “This seems like an extreme reaction to a pretty routine traffic stop,” he said.

I swear, you guys. This is a true story.

“Well, see, I was already like this,” I tried to explain. I had found a napkin in the glove box and was using it like a towel to dry my entire face.

He nodded and walked back to his car, and I pulled around the corner. I’m proud to report that by then, I had my sobs under control, though tears continued to pool in my eyes. The officer returned and handed me my license and registration, then leaned down into the window. “Now, I’m not going to give you a ticket. I’m not going to do that and add to your day, so I’m just going to give you a warning. But maybe you should think about going back home until you can drive more safely.” He patted the windowsill, told me to have a good day – ha! – and walked off.

The poor guy: he hadn’t a clue what to do with me. I think I scared the shit out of him. I’m sorry if this is sexist, but imagine if it was a woman who pulled me over? We’d either be best friends by now or she would have rolled her eyes, told me to suck it up, and given me a ticket.

Well, Officer Super-Nice-Guy, thank you for being so straightforward with me and letting me go on my way. Thank you for not making me feel any more embarrassed than I already did. And I’ll have you know that I did manage, eventually, to “have a nice day.”

I hesitated to write about this incident because it seems too personal. But an artist friend of mine and I were recently discussing art, and we came to the conclusion – well, it was mostly her conclusion, with me cheering her on – that life is shit a lot of the time and by making art, we’re climbing out of the shit and making something from it. So I hope that by climbing out of the shit with this story, I’ve made something of worth. Maybe you can relate. At the least, maybe it made you laugh.

Anyway, have fun until next time, and I hope you don’t think I’m a crazy person….