Cops can pull you over for any reason they dream up. I was driving home Sunday night from our weekly post-rehearsal IHOP gorging when a cop behind me started flashing his lights. So I pulled over to let him pass, except he pulled over behind me … and then he took his sweet fucking time to waddle his self-righteous cop ass up to my window and yell at me as though he’d just caught me shitting in the pope’s mouth. It seems he’d decided I’d rolled through a stop sign, which I was about to tell him is physically impossible in a stick shift since you can’t get into first gear unless you’re at a complete stop and I always start from first gear, but then he asked me for my proof of insurance. And I suddenly had a sinking feeling that I hadn’t put my new insurance papers in my car. My new insurance papers come every October and April, and it was now April and I know I hadn’t even opened any mail that looked insurancey or moneyey for a couple weeks. Imagine my surprise, though, when the insurance papers I did find in my glove compartment were the ones that had expired in October. And while I completely admit to breaking the driving-without-proof-of-insurance law for six whole months, in my defense, October was the beginning of my long period of unemployment and homelessness, so I was a bit preoccupied.
A clean record doesn’t count for shit when your cop is an asshole. As I was waiting for Cap’n Angerpants to huff and puff his way to my car window, I did the math and realized I hadn’t gotten a speeding ticket since I was a sophomore in college, which was 20 years ago. I’d gotten pulled over once since then—in a small-town-Iowa speed trap about three years ago—but I gave the cop a withering look when he gravely informed me I was going four miles an hour over the speed limit, and when he ran my license and realized I was not a public threat, he wisely sent me on my way with only a verbal warning and his professional dignity relatively intact. But not with his phone number, and he was cute and I was single.
The cops can make you the problem even when you’re not the problem. My driving record is squeaky clean. My car is maintained and (I promise!) insured. There are no visible body parts and hardly any blood in the trunk. I’m educated, articulate and gainfully employed. I pay my taxes. I don’t do drugs. I don’t listen to Andrew Lloyd Webber. I loathe everything about the Dubya administration. And despite all this evidence supporting my honorable, upstanding citizenship, the cop took away my license. What’s more, there is such a backlog of what I can only imagine are other upstanding, Dubya-hating citizens waiting to get their licenses back from angry cops that I have to wait two months and then show up in court to get it back. And when that happens, I’m probably going to write all about it completely in italics.
I’d never called to change the address on my insurance when I moved. While he was lashing out irrationally at me on Sunday night, the cop also helped me remember that I’d never called my insurance company to update my address—and possibly my coverage—on my home and car policies. And when I called last night to take care of it, I found out that I’ll have to cancel my old policy and get a new one. And in the mean time, I have no insurance on my house. Ack!
Even an angry cop can have a silver lining. If there’s a happy ending to this story, it’s the discovery that my forgetfulness and inertia paid off—I’m entitled to a full refund of my insurance premiums from the day I sold my old condo in October. I’m just not going to light any sparklers in the house to celebrate.