How Cranberries Got Me Out of a Speeding Ticket [True Story]
My wife Katie and I were invited over to play games with some friends at their home in Big Lake this past Saturday.
It was late when we left, about 11:30pm. As we left Big Lake, Katie and I were discussing -- of all things -- cranberries; we had a belated Thanksgiving dinner to attend the next day, and Katie had offered to bring cranberries. Should we stop and pick some up on the way home or get them after church Sunday?
I wasn't paying attention, and before I knew it red and blue lights were flashing behind me. For a split second, I thought maybe he'd been called to an emergency, and if I pulled over he'd pass. Nope. As I pulled to the side of the road, he followed me.
There was no use arguing -- I had likely been speeding. I had my license and insurance ready when a very nice officer approached my driver-side window.
"You know why I'm pulling you over?" he asked.
"I'm going to guess I was speeding."
"You know what the speed limit is through here?"
"I'm going to guess 30."
"You know how fast you were driving?"
"I'm going to guess 45." (There was a lot of guessing during our conversation.)
"I clocked you going about 50," he said. Yikes. Yep, there was no getting out of this one.
"l'm sorry," I spit out, "I wasn't paying attention. We were talking about cranberries."
To my relief, the officer laughed! I took that as a good sign and continued. "We have a Thanksgiving dinner to attend tomorrow, and we offered to bring cranberries."
He asked a few more questions, including "Where you guys coming from?" Katie jumped in at this point.
"We were playing games with some friends in Big Lake. They're from church." (Hey, it doesn't hurt, right!)
Just when it seemed like we may sweet talk our way out of this one, he noticed something: "Do you have an updated insurance? This one expired...yesterday." It was true; my 6-month insurance period had ended the day before, and I didn't have a new card to show that it had been renewed.
"You know, I don't. I promise I do have insurance, though; the payment was charged to my credit card this week."
"I'm going to believe you're telling the truth," he said. "Sit tight." And with that he went back to his vehicle, no doubt to check out my record.
I sat back, feeling awful. This was only the second time I'd ever been pulled over, and it was a blow to my pride and clean record more than anything. Katie was incredibly gracious and positive through it all, though: "It's ok, babe. It happens. It's going to be fine." Turns out she was right.
Moments later, the officer approached my window again. As he handed back my license, he said, "Alright...because you were honest, and because you've got a clean record, I'm gonna let you off with a warning." I breathed a huge sigh of relief. "Just watch your speed and get home safe."
"Thank you, sir. I really appreciate it."
And that was it! I like to think it was cranberries that got me out of a deserved speeding ticket, but that probably isn't true. Cranberries may have made an officer laugh at 11:30pm on a Saturday night, but they didn't get me out of a speeding ticket. Honesty and a clean record -- and a gracious officer -- got me out of a speeding ticket. My lesson learned that night was a reminder that the decisions we make every day pave the way for our future, that our actions always have consequences -- either good or bad -- that often affect us down the road. Had I had previous tickets and offenses on my record, they certainly would have counted against me that evening. Had I chosen not to tell the truth or argue with the officer, that would have surely affected how he perceived me and chose to act. Years' worth of practicing honesty and pursuing a clean record bore consequences that Saturday night, and fortunately they were in my favor. Maybe a good reminder for me can be a good reminder for us all.