Erin Vore was cited for going 72 in a 60 zone two weekends ago in Mount Orab, Ohio. This was her first citation for speeding, bringing the total number of citations between Erin and Ben to six. Herewith are the various strategies employed by the Vores when the cop asks for license and registration.
METHOD #1: HONESTY.
This was the method Erin employed in Mount Orab. “We had you clocked at seventy-two, m’am,” the officer said. “Do you know what your speedometer had you going?” “Probably seventy-two,” Erin said. “Where are you coming from?” Yes! Erin could say we were returning from College Summit and explain how we volunteered our time helping kids get into college without appearing to go for the sympathy vote. What good fortune! “Well, I’m going to have to cite you for speeding,” the officer said in response. The injustice! Cruel, cruel fate! Plus we had pulled over right in front of skunk roadkill, adding insult to injury.
Verdict: A virtuous, but failed, strategy.
METHOD #2: COMPLETE INCOMPETENCE.
Employed by Ben the first three times he was pulled over. “This is a 55 zone? Whoops, I thought it was 65!” “I’m not allowed to have a picture of Tony Danza taped to my rear window?* And I was going fifteen miles over the speed limit? Silly me!” “I was going how fast, officer? Man, I am completely and totally incompetent! I didn’t even dress myself this morning! I can’t see how giving me a ticket would make my sorry predicament any worse than it already is!”
Verdict: Failure, failure, failure.
METHOD #3: CRY.
Employed by Erin the only other time she was pulled over.
Verdict: Success. No ticket.
METHOD #4: HONESTY, EVEN WHEN IT SOUNDS LIKE AN OUTRIGHT LIE.
Ben was speeding home without his license when a cop pulled him over in Nashville. “Officer, I’m sorry I was speeding,” Ben said, “but a CD tower just fell on my wife’s head and she may have had a concussion.” “You don’t even have your license on you?” the cop asked. “I left it at work. She called, and I got straight into my car.” The officer looked off into the distance for a second. How many cockamamie stories had this man heard through the years, and which ones had actually been true? “Please be careful,” he said, and tapped the roof of Ben’s car twice.
Verdict: No ticket! Or concussion! But a nasty bruise.
METHOD #5: AMPLIFY YOUR SOBERNESS.
This was the method Ben used when he was the designated driver for a college outing to Cleveland. The men of 113 Bexley had seen the Cavs play earlier in the evening before enjoying a libation-intensive outing in the Flats. When the cop pulled Ben over at four a.m. in Fredericktown, Ohio, Ben had the good fortune of stopping right in front of a “Speed Limit: 35” sign, which was the speed he had been driving in a 25 zone. This, coupled with the fact Ben could explain that although the Cavs had won they had still been mathematically eliminated from the NBA playoffs, saved the day.
Verdict: A success, so long as you tell your drunken friends they are to remain absolutely silent and let you do the talking.
METHOD #6: SILENT, BRUTAL JUDGMENT.
When Ben was pulled over the morning of December 26, 2005, for going 77 in a 65 outside Louisville, he took the high road. Clearly the officer knew it was the morning after Christmas. He could probably tell that Ben, alone, was saddened to be returning to Nashville so early because he was due to work, and surely the officer knew that, in retail, the day after Christmas is the most depressing day of the year. The returns, the deflated ho ho hos, the absence of cheer that had lubricated tense employee-customer transactions just thirty-six hours ago. The officer must know all of this. He has a soul too, right? Wrong. He writes the ticket. Still — still! — Ben takes the high road. No complaint. No appeal to their shared humanity. What these two men understand is cold, hard rationality. You don’t need to do this, Ben’s taut jaw is saying. I’m not going to beg. You know where I’ve been. You’ve been there too. Twelve hours ago we were both sitting hearthside with our loved ones, sharing a drink and a laugh while Christmas Story played on endless repeat on TNT. But that doesn’t need to be said. It’s understood between us, you and I. We get each other. The officer tears off the ticket. Oh, really? You’re still going to do this? Fine. I am going to murder you in my head right now. I mean, I am pulverizing you with my fists. Can you feel that? CAN YOU FEEL IT?? The officer walks away. Ben looks at the ticket. He thinks to himself, I should have begged.
Verdict: Total, absolute failure, and an endangerment to Ben’s immortal soul.
* This is another story for another post.