“You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law…” I’m only 18 but apparently I’m already a hardened criminal and being read my rights. My crime – doing 42 in a 30.
As I drove away with my first (and somehow only) speeding ticket sitting accusingly on my passenger seat, I was less annoyed by the ticket than by how pathetically I’d handled the whole episode.
Let me rewind 15 minutes as I was merrily driving along Purley Way near Croydon, a wide main artery road into London. All of a sudden a man steps out of the shadows and starts slowly waving a red wand up and down as I drive past.
“I wonder what he was doing?” I said to myself as I carried on my merry way up the road, “That’s a funny place to be selling glow sticks”. I glanced in my rear view mirror to see if he was still waving his wand but he wasn’t – instead he was on his radio to someone, someone parked up the road in a car that suddenly started flashing blue lights. Ohhh…I get it now!
Now, if you go through a speed camera and a policeman waves you down, probably the last thing you want to do is make him walk nearly 250 metres up the road to your car. But I’m new to the criminal fraternity so that’s exactly what I made him do. I decide it is only polite for me to get out the car and walk back towards him but my act of kindness is perhaps mistaken for an attempt to run off and is repaid with him shouting “STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE!!”
The irony that as soon as he reaches my car the first thing he asks me to do is “Get out of your vehicle” is not lost on me but for once I managed to bite my tongue and meekly complied. This is where it starts to get embarrassing.
“Do you know why I stopped you?”
“Erm – no” ( I genuinely didn’t)
“Do you know how fast you were going?”
(Ohhh I know this one) “Yes, I was going 40 mph!” I proudly announced
“You were going 42”
“That was close”
“Do you think it is OK to go 42 in a 30 sir?”
“Of course not – I never would”
“You just did – this (wide road that is pretty much a dual carriage way) is a 30 zone”
It’s at this point, as he starts reading me my rights and filling in the speeding ticket, that I do two things I am ashamed of to this day. Instead of coming out with some “why don’t you go and catch some real criminals” rant I instead found myself saying
“Can I just say – you were very well hidden!” WTF – This policeman is writing me a £70 speeding ticket and I’m complementing him on his hide-and-seek skills.
He pauses from his ticket writing (maybe to work out if what I just said could be “used as evidence against me in the court of law” or just to see if I am mentally challenged) before finally saying… “I was standing there in a bright luminous yellow jacket waving an orange glow stick sir”
He has a point and this flusters me even more. So much so that, as he hands me my ticket and starts on his long walk back to his “hiding place” I blurt out, “Thank you very much sir – I hope you have a nice evening”.
My shame is complete.
Next: Tie it to the Wall