I just got a call from my wife who is vacationing with my sister in North Carolina. This trip worries me. If my name comes up, no one in that car will take my side.
Mary Ellen was just pulled over by the local police for a minor infraction. Mary Ellen never breaks the rules. She believes rules were made to be followed. This kind of harebrained notion caused a rift in the way we raised our son. To Mary Ellen’s credit, in over 35 years Brett has not spent a single night in jail.
Getting pulled over has crushed her, ruined her clean record and put a damper on her vacation. My wife’s life has been exemplary. She never had detention, never cheated on a test, never told a lie, never even hot-wired a car. The woman was a saint. Until today.
When you have a perfect record—not just in driving, but in your entire life—being followed by a police officer is a perplexing and nerve-racking experience. I have studied the best way to deal with cops when getting pulled over for speeding. For example, I know that saying, “Officer, I was running out of gas, so I had to get home quicker,” just doesn’t work.
Mary Ellen, on the other hand, has no experience in this area. When she noticed the lights flashing behind her, she waved the policeman around her. In fact, she waved him around her for about 23 blocks. Then it dawned on her that he was after her.
“When you stop crying, Ma’am, may I see your license and registration?”
“Oh, there must be some mistake, officer. I’ve never done anything wrong in my entire saintly life. You must have me confused with my husband.”
“Look, lady, I’m going back to the patrol car to check your record.”
“While you’re checking, you might take notice of the fact that I have never cheated on a test, from kindergarten through my MBA. And this is especially noteworthy: I never let anyone look at my paper, either.”
“Ma’am, your license plates are expired.”
“How could you possibly know that?”
“There’s a little sticker on the plate. It says 2022.”
“Well, how can you expect me to see that from the driver’s seat?”
I actually tried that line myself once, hoping to get a laugh from a cop. I got a sobriety test instead.
Now back to the phone call from Mary Ellen right after she was stopped…
“Dick, I was just pulled over by the police.”
“Why didn’t you let my sister drive the get-away car?”
“Look, this is not a joke. Up until 20 minutes ago, I had a perfect record. I had never done anything wrong in my life. Do you know what this stain on my reputation means?”
“A big celebration at the convent! You’ve moved a lot of the sisters into first place.”
This event apparently created some soul searching on Mary Ellen’s part. “You know, Dick, this brush with the law has given me a new perspective. I’ve led too sheltered an existence. In fact, marrying you is really the only questionable thing I’ve done in my life until today.”
“Mary Ellen, marrying me was not exactly committing a crime.”
“No, but it’s probably the closest I’ll ever come.”
– Dick Wolfsie spent his career sharing his humor, stories and video essays on television, radio and in newspapers. His columns appear weekly in The Paper of Montgomery County. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@ aol.com.