Why do cops ask, “Why were you speeding?” That has got to be the dumbest question in the world. Is there some “magic word” that will have the cop saying, “Oh, right you are. Carry on, but be sure to slow down to a 120 at that curve up ahead. Have a good day.”
Actually, I know why they ask that question; it’s to immediately let you know that they are the parent and you are the child, and to have you agree with them that you were in violation of the law. Now that the ground rules have been set, there’s nothing you can say that will get you out of that ticket–you were speeding!
It was the same when I was once parked at a curb waiting for someone to come out of an office building. The traffic was very light, there were four other lanes for the cars to use, and I was only going to be there for a few minutes–so I violated the law and stopped my car. I think I was reading a book to my son when a cop walked up to my window and said something parental to me. Then he asked me if I saw the “no parking” sign. When I said yes, he asked me to read it–he actually wanted me to read it to him. I looked at him and said the obvious, “I know how to read.” He told me to move my car.
At 2 a.m. one morning I drove through four red lights, stopping at each one to look both ways–all clear–and then proceeded through the intersection. Because the fourth intersection was at Powell Blvd, I stopped a little longer to scan the gas stations and strip malls for cops, and not seeing any, went on through. Sure enough, a pair of headlights shortly appeared in my rearview mirror, and then the flashing lights.
I don’t get pulled over often, but when I do, especially at night, I know to grab my driver’s license from the glove box and put both hands out of the window, making sure he can see them. He had this brilliant floodlight that lit me up and made me blind when I got out of my car, and there’s nothing worse that talking to someone you can’t see.
I’m going to skip all the boring details and simply say the end result was that he decided not to give me a ticket. I wasn’t expecting that, and I wasn’t trying to get out of the ticket. In fact, as soon as I got out of my car I said that I knew what I had done and asked that he write me up and hand me the ticket. I also asked him to turn his floodlight off. When my eyes readjusted so that I could see him, he asked me, “How’s it going?” Very civil.
He also let me know why he wasn’t giving me a ticket. He said that in a typical day of issuing traffic citations, noboby thinks they broke the law. Many say they had no idea they did something wrong. Some say they didn’t do anything wrong. A few call the issuing officer names and argue about it. And some act out and get taken to jail. Apparently I had said the “magic word” before he had a chance to say anything to me–I admitted I was guilty. It sort of made his day. So he was generous to me at two in the morning, and that also made my day.