Wednesday, July 13, 2005
It's September 1969. Mama and I have taken the four kids shopping. We're finished with our shopping and we pack ourselves into our little VW bug. VW Bugs were smaller then than the new Bugs that are out now. So pack-in is the way we had to do it. It's hot and smoggy and the traffic in Southern California is heavy; I'm waiting patiently to pull out of the store parking lot onto the busy street.
I see the double yellow line in the center of the street, but I know that it's legal to pull out and turn left over a double yellow line, if you are exiting a business establishment. I've just read that somewhere.
Finally, I see my chance. I pull out and cross the double yellow line, and immediately hear a siren behind me. It cannot be aimed at me. I'm not doing anything wrong.
Wrong is right. A State Trooper makes it clear that, yes indeed, he means ME.
He strolls up to my rolled-down window, oh soooo slowly. You can't be too careful approaching a fast machine like a '67 bug. Maybe the kids are actually terrorist midgets. But wait, we didn't have terrorists yet. Maybe the kids were just armed midgets. Come to think of it, Mama was a midget too. Anyway.
He tells me that I have committed a traffic violation by crossing the double yellow line. I tell him that it's my understanding that when exiting a business, you are allowed to cross a double yellow line. "Ah," he says, "but you crossed a double double yellow line."
So, have you got that? I crossed a DOUBLE double yellow line. He points out that I have just driven my car across four yellow lines. Four yellow lines, side-by-side.
"In California, a double double yellow line is a cheap concrete divider," he explains.
Not so cheap for me, however.
He walks slowly back to his cruiser, radios in to make inquires as to whether or not the car is stolen, whether or not I am a wanted felon. Like that. Tell me, did people steal those old VW Bugs? Not high on the list of most wanted cars I imagine.
I do have to admit that I probably did look like an escaped con, what with my mother and four kids in the car. So I can't fault him there.
The kids are hot, tired, and getting a touch whiney. I'm hot, tired and getting very whiney. He takes forever and finally comes back to the car and hands me a ticket. This is a crushing blow on two levels.
The first level is that I got a ticket! Me! I'm young and cute. I always get warnings, not tickets. I always figured that I would know that I was old or had lost my looks if I ever actually received a ticket. Hrumph. Apparently, four little kids and my mother canceled my cuteness right out as far as this cop was concerned. Some people.
The second, and worst level was the money and telling my husband about it. I was a stay-at-home mom. Niks was a front-line, in-the-trenches, very-under-paid Social Worker in those days. We didn't have two nickels to rub together. The ticket is for about $150. A lot of money to us then.
So I tell the kids, dddragon, age ten, ActonBell, age six, Nivek, age four, and Aral, age 11 months, don't tell Daddy about this. I'll tell him. Okay? Nobody tell Daddy. I'll take care of that. When the time is right. Just don't be tellin'. All right? That's settled. Everyone nods yes, even the one not old enough to tell on me. They understand. They are NOT going to tell Daddy.
So, I figure that I will wait until the kids are in bed, everything is nice and quiet, talk sweet to Niks, love him up a little -- you don't need details.
I then work up the nerve to tell him about the expense, explaining how it is definitely not my fault that California has such cheap road dividers, and that who would know about such a stupid law as not being able to cross a double double yellow line. Like that.
A light comes on in his head. "OOOoooh! So that's it! ActonBell told me that you got a ticket for a double no-no today! I didn't know what she could be talking about."
She ratted me out! That kid.