That time I got clocked at 142 mph and pulled over by a Florida state trooper was a pain in the ass. He didn’t seem too happy about it either, probably wanted me to make a run for it so he could chase me. I was already late to meet a friend for drinks and now I worried that I may not make it before last call. Talk about bad luck.
I could clearly see the cop fast-stepping to my car because I always had the top down. Unless it was raining, of course. I’d actually hit about 160 mph before the BMW’s governor took me down to 155 for most of the ride. I was flashing my high beams to move cars out of the way ahead of me as I tried to make my drinking appointment. Drives me crazy that so many slow drivers clog the high speed lanes in South Florida. The cop really ought to be pulling these people over. I have things to do. They evidently, don’t. The cop’s radar only showed 142 because I was slowing down and moving right for the next exit, when I passed him from two lanes over.
Now here we were wasting time on the Broward Boulevard exit ramp off Highway 95 in Fort Lauderdale at 11:30 pm on a Wednesday night. He was walking up to my car as I was calling my lawyer and leaving a message. I wouldn’t recall his number for my one phone call, if I was arrested. There was a time I could recite dozens of phone numbers but the cell phone contact list has made that talent frivolous now.
Except in cases like this.
“HANG UP THAT PHONE! NOW!” he screamed. “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?!”
Uh oh, he was really fired up.
“I’m sorry, officer. Just hanging up the phone, sir.”
“I mean, why the hell were you driving so fast?!”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Was just trying to stay ahead of the accidents, officer. Have you seen the way these people drive out there?” I asked.
He was silent as he just stared at me for a minute, maybe two, then finally said, “Tell me about it. I’m out here every day with them.”
He looked around my car, which again is easy because the top was down, then asked for my license and registration. He was calmer now. Without a gun, I’m not much of a threat at 5’10” and 150 lbs. soaking wet. Obviously harmless.
I handed him my registration and told him I didn’t have it with me, but could recite my Massachusetts driver’s license number. I did just that and he was impressed. When I got my first license in 1980 they used your social security number as your driver’s license number. Didn’t tell him that. Let him think I’m a savant.
He walked back to his cruiser to check my info and I sat thinking about how upset Jonathan was going to be that I missed our 11 o’clock rendezvous at Yolo on Las Olas. Dammit, this was taking a long time…
The cop finally came back to me and I could tell he was fired up again, he was practically running to my car.
“1992? 1992? 1992?!” he yelled.
I said nothing and played dumb, hoping he’d calm down and not shoot me.
“Your license expired in 1992!” he screamed into my face.
It was now 2010.
“Oh, that sucks! I wasn’t really sure that had happened,” I said with a straight face. “I mean… I bought the car two weeks ago, called Geico to insure it and gave them my license number. Nobody has said anything, I’m insured, so I figured I was good to go. Anyway, I just moved here. I was planning on getting a Florida license as soon as I had the time.”
“So for 18 years you’ve been driving around day and night with total disregard for the law. Not giving one damn about breaking the law, doing whatever the hell you please,” he said. It was not a question.
I kept my mouth shut.
He told me to get out of the car and have a seat on the guard rail, then went back to his car for more police business. I took the opportunity to text Jon and tell him that I was running a little late.
The cop returned, stood in front of me, and asked if I had been drinking.
“And don’t tell me you haven’t because I could smell it as soon as I walked up to your car,” he said.
“I thought you couldn’t smell vodka,” I replied.
“I can always smell it,” he said.
Hmm, good to know.
“Well, I’m coming from a friend who’s tending bar in Delray tonight, she made me one vodka cranberry.”
He told me I looked like I had more than one. I explained that I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours, had been busy building out my new office. I had guys working around the clock and was hoping to have it opened by the 1st of the month. I was just tired and stressed.
He continued to ask about my office and where I lived. He was calmer now and handling his business like a true professional. I explained that I was in the financial business and gave him my home address. I hadn’t lived there long, but knew my house was in a good neighborhood. After giving him my address in Rio Vista and answering his pointed questions, I realized how really great it was.
His boss was my neighbor.
I had learned at our dog park that among my neighbors were the mayor, three or four judges, lots of lawyers, and a few Fortune 500 CEO’s. The cop’s boss lived one street away, he was the number two man in the State Police Department, he’d married a wealthy lawyer and built a home there on the waterfront.
It left a good impression. He made positive comments about the neighborhood and sat down next to me. Then he explained that a tow truck was on it’s way to impound my car, that I couldn’t drive it without a license. He explained that if he wrote me up for 142 mph I would go to jail for reckless driving. He explained that a DUI cop was on his way to give me a field sobriety test. If I didn’t pass, I’d go to jail in any case.
I’m thinking I might not make last call for drinks with Jon.
We sat on the guard rail and chatted while waiting for the DUI cop and the tow truck. I told him that I really hadn’t been driving lawlessly for the last eighteen years. I explained how I’d lived in Europe for ten years while working out of Switzerland, left to start my own company in Los Angeles for five years where I used taxi’s and hired town cars, then opened an office in Vegas for four years where I had a limo and driver.
He explained that I made his day when he saw my directional come on to take the Broward exit, some public safety restriction prohibited him from chasing me at high speeds if I’d continued on at 155 mph.
Wow, really good to know.
This cop was a nice guy.
He really loved my BMW 650. I agreed it was an awesome car but added that you have to get it in black, like mine, makes all the difference in the world. He agreed as we nodded and stared at the car with admiration.
Could probably still fry an egg on the tires.
He’d said he’d never driven one. I told him to take it for a spin. Figured I could run up the exit ramp and hail a cab to Yolo when he pulled away.
No dice. This was not his first rodeo.
The DUI cop arrived. My cop told me to sit and wait until he talked to him first. As they walked back to me I heard him tell the DUI cop, “He said he only had one drink and I might believe him because he was driving that car like a true professional.”
I followed his pen from side to side with my eyes and the DUI expert declared me a winner.
It was after midnight. I’m wondering if Jonathan is still at the bar waiting and if I’m being arrested for reckless driving, when the flat bed tow truck pulls up with another car on it. I’m back sitting on the guard rail while the cop gives the driver instructions to take my car away. The cop comes back and says he’s told the driver to take the older car off the flat bed, put mine up there instead, and tow the other one. He said my 650 was too nice to put up on tow. I couldn’t have agreed more.
This cop was a really nice guy.
He then told me he was writing me up for speeding at 88 mph so he wouldn’t have to arrest me. Oh yeah, and driving without a license. I argued I had one, it was just expired, that’s all. He said he’d like to be there when I explained that to the judge.
Now I asked how I was supposed to get home, should I walk up the ramp and catch a taxi? He asked if I had cash with me. I said, “Sure, well deserved, how much do you want?”
He went and talked to the tow driver and came back to tell me he’d arranged for me to ride home with him. Said the tow driver could drop my car at my house along with me, as long as I paid him in cash. He warned me not to drive the car again until I got down to the DMV for a license.
“Remember, the car stays in the driveway!” he ordered.
We shook hands and I jumped in the tow truck to leave.
This cop is an awesome guy!
I should buy him a 650.
Black on black. The way we like it.
I can’t believe this! I should be able to make last call.
Ten minutes later we pulled up in front of my house. I wish he’d turn all the damn safety lights off on the truck, lights were swirling all over the place. Probably waking the neighbors. He collected $300 from me and proceeded to drop the other car off tow and load mine down from the flatbed. I tipped him $100. He couldn’t have cared less.
He was still putting the older car back on the flat bed when I squealed off in my car to try and make last call. Shit, I really needed a drink now. Jon, or no Jon. I took as many side roads as I could, fearing the cop may have stayed in the area. My bet was he’d gotten back on the highway. But, you can never be too careful about these things.
My adrenaline was racing as I screeched up to the restaurant and palmed a hundred dollar bill into the valet’s waiting hand, yelling, “I can’t believe I’m not in fucking jail!”
I said this a thousand more times the rest of the night after I opened the bar for everybody, and proceeded to toss vodka cranberries down my throat like they were water.
Oh yeah, Jon was still there when I arrived. And so was my bag of weed, still there in the center console of my car. Things turned out well after all.
You just have to stay calm in these types of situations.
The next afternoon I went to get my license and I couldn’t believe how easy it was. It’s a huge relief, now I can finally relax and not have to constantly worry about driving so carefully all the time.