Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wow, Really When It Rains...

Several years ago, when I still had my Toyota and worked at The Magic House, I was driving home from work on a Friday night. I had opted to take the streets, as opposed to the highway, because I liked the streets so much better, because as I drive I can clear my head a little better, with the windows down, music playing, without a lot of wind knocking my head around. My passenger side headlight had gone out some time between the last time I drove the car at night and this particular evening.

I was driving down Lockwood in Webster Groves, the section just west of Old Webster where the median divides the road, and a police officer was travelling in the opposite direction. We passed each other near one of the breaks in the median, and he used this break to swing around and get behind me. I was not speeding out of control. I may have been going the standard 2-4 mph over the limit. I had not been drinking. I was not weaving. I didn't run stop signs or stop lights. There was nothing out of the ordinary, and yet he followed me for a mile.

At the end of this mile, as I was going through the intersection of Lockwood and Elm, the traffic signal turned from Green to Yellow as I entered, and the officer's lights went from dark to wild. I was still wearing my Magic House polo and name tag. This is key.

What followed was an exchange I could never have been prepared for.

Officer: License and Insurance
Me: Good evening.
Officer: Know why I pulled you over?
Me: No sir, is everything alright?
Officer: License and Insurance.
Me: Sorry, here you go.
Officer: Where you coming from?
Me: Work.
Officer: Yeah, or a party. Where you headed?
Me: Um...home.
Officer: Yeah, or another party.

He left, I guess to check my license, whatever. I was sort of confused. He came back.

Officer: This insurance card is expired.
Me: I'm's the new one, sorry.
Officer: Do you know why I pulled you over?
Me: No, sorry.
Officer: You have a headlight out. That's a ticketable offense.
Me: Oh! Yeah, actually, I just noticed that tonight as I was leaving work, must have happened in the last couple of days.
Officer: Or three weeks ago. Look, it's like, five dollars at Autozone to get it fixed. Now I'm not going to give you a ticket this time, but you better have two working headlights the next time I see you.

He handed me back my license and insurance cards, walked away and I drove home.

Or so I thought I was doing...I was on Murdoch, so close to home, when a Shrewsbury Police Officer pulled me over. He was much more friendly. He just wanted to let me know my light was out, doing a public service, for which I thanked him and laughed and shared the fact that I had just been pulled over in Webster for the same thing. He apologized, wished me a good evening, and I made it home safe.

This is all relevant because at the moment, my passenger side headlight is out on my Jetta. This happened about a week ago, and in all honesty I have not had the time to get it fixed because of work and school. So, I guess I've been playing Russian Roulette for a week and the odds finally caught up with me. There was a Webster Groves cruiser parked in the Nerinx lot as I was leaving Webster University's lot. As I pulled out onto Garden, the cruiser pulled out, got behind me, and promptly pulled me over. And guess who it was?

Officer: License and Insurance.

You've got to be kidding me.

Me: Good evening, here you go.
Officer: Know why I pulled you over?
Me: Yes, I have a headlight out. That's on the agenda for fixing tomorrow.
Officer: It's like, ten dollars at Autozone to get it fixed.
Me: That's true.
Officer: It's a ticketable offense, but I'll go ahead and let you go this time. Get it fixed as soon as you can.
Me: Thank you, have a good night!

And he walked away.

As if all this wasn't enough, I went over to my parents' house, where Kathy was hanging out after walking there from Webster U, and we were driving down McKenzie on our way home when...lights. County Police officer pulls me over.

I get it, already, world! I promise I will never neglect a burnt out headlight again for as long as I live! I mean, come on!


Molly said...

Must be a slow crime night. Who knew we had those in St. Louis?

gerald said...

this was a terrific tale. thank you elliot for starting off my 4 o'clock hour right.

mGk said...

I am glad our tax dollars are going to such good use. I feel better knowing that our men and women in blue are protecting us from all those hoodlums with burnt out headlights.

I think you should buy a few, just keep them in your glove box. Or get a T-shirt made:

"I know my headlights out and that it is only $10 at Autozone."

Becca said...

LMAO... Hahaha... I agree, you should get some spare headlights AND a t-shirt - you know, just in case.

Wow, I feel safer now that St. Louis police officers are so concerned with burnt out headlights instead of capturing, oh, i don't know - say, real criminals?

Although, you do have a sketchy look about you Elliot...

heartcooksbrain said...

You need to spend more time in the city...

City cops NEVER care about stuff like this. Don't have the time.

mGk said...

Fall off the face of the earth much?

Annie said...

The fuse that connects the electrical stuff to the actual light bulb of my right headlight is faulty, apparently, because I can start the drive without a headlight and end the drive with one (sans trip to Autozone). I tried explaining this to a police officer once, who made fun of me, and it came on just in time for him to see it when he came back with my license and registration.
That's good karma.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm amayzed. My name is Henry J. Dell "good law abiding citizen here" and I just was pulled over by a police officer for a burnt out head light, which I was not aware of. I was friendly and calm. Everyone has told me that you get a warning with something like this and have to prove you fixed it. The officer gave me a ticket. The waiverable fine if I don't want to go to court is $175 dallors. Or I can go to court and take my chances and plead not guilty and show with my reciept that I fixed the light the next day, and hope that the judge dismisses the case. But I was told by the city clerk their is no garentee I won't get a fine and then have to pay that plus $120 in court costs.

I suffer from axiety and this is just stressing me out. I don't even have a job at the moment, and don't know what to do. I'm loosing sleep over this. I feel so persicuted for something that you can't help, a light burning out.

If anyone can help me in anyway, my e-mail is

Henry J. Dell