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I'm Legal

March 12, 2009 - Phyllis Sigal
I am a law abiding citizen. There is no doubt about that.

I am a cautious driver. Sometimes to a fault, I've heard. I slow down to 45 mph when approaching the Wheeling Tunnels. I actually come to a full and complete stop at stop signs. (I didn't the first time I took my driver's test apparently, according to the state trooper.)

I don't go through red lights. In fact I often stop at yellow ones. I don't text while driving. (Oh, wait. That's not illegal yet. Just stupid.)

I rarely jaywalk. (Is that even against the law anymore?)

I hardly ever drive anywhere when I know I'll be having an alcoholic beverage. One glass of wine, maybe, or one beer, and I'll drive a short distance.

I pay my bills on time. If I miss one, it's an oversight. I always pay my taxes on time. (Well, I didn't once, because I never got the bill. I know, it's not a valid excuse.)

I'm a horrible liar.

Not that I've never done anything wrong in my life .... I'm not perfect, no goody-two-shoes. But, I'm basically an honest, law-abiding, tax-paying citizen. I'm just not one to have regular run-ins with the law. Even the hint of impropriety makes me uncomfortable.

So when those red lights started flashing in my rear-view mirror the other night as I turned onto Heiskell Avenue from National Road, I was a bit surprised. I was the only car around, so he must've meant me.

I wasn't speeding. I didn't go through any red lights. I used my turn signals. Was a brake light out?

Oh, no. I got it. I was, once again, driving under the influence of yoga.

I had written a blog about that earlier this year. About how when I drive home from yoga class, I'm in a totally relaxed state. Maybe too relaxed.

So, I waited patiently for what seemed like HOURS as the nice, young police officer approached my rolled-down window.

I'm sure I looked perplexed. I felt my brow furrow.

He said the reason he stopped me was because my registration sticker on my license plate was expired. It's yellow. It should be black.

I was perplexed, yet again. (I could feel my brow, furrowing, again.) I looked at my registration card and, sure enough, it was the old one.

"But I know I got a new registration," I said, more to myself than to him. Their computer had not been working, he noted, but then the second officer yelled to him that, yes, indeed, my car was legal through 2010.

My husband actually is in charge of getting those things taken care of, but I start bugging him about the middle of December to get my registration because I know it's due by Jan. 1. The holidays often get in the way, so I like to make sure it's done earlier.

Not that Mr. Policeman wanted to know, but I mentioned that my husband is in charge of that. That sounded pretty lame, I'm sure.

He said to make sure I found the sticker because the next time he was going to throw the book at me. No, just kidding. He didn't really say that. He just mentioned that if I got stopped again, I could be cited for improper display of registration.

I scoured the house for that missing sticker; Bruce had, indeed, purchased the registration. We had the canceled check image for proof.

But, I couldn't find it.

So, the next day, as my poor, illegal car sat idled, Bruce went to the DMV to clear things up.

He sent me a text message later in the day. (Hopefully not while driving.) "You're legal."

Thank goodness!

But gnawing questions still haunt me. Was there anything about my driving that made them check my plate? Was I swerving? Or doing anything else suspicious? Or did that yellow sticker just scream out "ILLEGAL, ILLEGAL, ILLEGAL"?

I wanted to ask, but I didn't want to seem impudent.

But thank you to Mr. Police Officer for stopping me when and where he did. (On a side street so nobody I knew saw me ... I would've been so embarrassed!) And now it's taken care of. Wheeeeeeeewww. What a relief.

I'm a legal, law-abiding citizen.


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