****Some minor details of this story have been altered, to protect the innocent.
Last weekend I attended my first blogger conference (which I will breakdown for tomorrow’s post). The conference (Type A Parent) was held at the Grand Hyatt hotel, in the heart of Buckhead (a swanky residential/business/high-end retail area of Atlanta). I carpooled to the conference with a friend, let’s call her Nancy. Nancy was driving so I could navigate. I’m fairly familiar with the area, because I live in one of the city’s northern suburbs and I used to hang out in Buckhead back in my wild and carefree days. But it’s been a while, and the area has gone through some changes in the last few years. To ensure that I didn’t get lost, we left my house early Friday morning, so we’d have plenty of time for the unexpected. I absolutely did not want to be late to my first “professional” event in over a decade.
Oh, how I wish we’d run into traffic, or gotten lost – but no, we got pulled over! And Nancy got a ticket for something she did not do. Not cool, and I feel bad because I don’t know what to do to help her.
Here’s the deal –
We were at an intersection that, according to the navigation system, was within one mile of our destination. ONE MILE! We were in the turn lane, moving, when light turned yellow. Nancy kept going. I hesitate to say she “went for it,” because we were at the white line as the light turned yellow. She didn’t floor it or even speed up, just kept cruising. As the car started to turn, I heard a siren. Sure enough, there was an Atlanta Police car in the lane to our left, at a red light.
Instinctively I panicked, because that’s just what I do. He said something over a loud speaker or intercom, and I naturally assumed he was talking to us. I told Nancy to pull over and she scooted into a nearby parking lot. The officer passed us – yay! It wasn’t us. We watched as he pulled two cars over into the parking lot just past where we were. As my heart rate returned to normal, I saw him look over to where we were. He waved us over.
Say what? Sh&*, sh^%.
We joined the crew, to find one woman (we’ll call her woman number one) arguing with the officer – she’d been driving the car in front of us. Woman number one insisted that light had been yellow. I concurred and he very tartly informed us that he had everybody on his dash cam driving through the red light. The third woman (who’d been behind us) asked to see the dash cam and he refused. He took all the licenses, and woman number one got back into her car. Woman number three was fired up and called him an asshole (under her breath). She started pleading her case to Nancy and me – and I started to slide away from her. Momma wanted no trouble. I was nervous – for Nancy and about the possibility of us being late to the conference.
Mr. Police Officer wrote the tickets for woman one and three and they went on their way. I was a little perturbed because we were the first to pull over (and I was worried about being late). At this point I was thinking that since we didn’t argue with him, and we were the last ones there that maybe…well, you know what I was hoping – for Nancy’s sake, of course. But no, it didn’t go that way. She got a ticket. Her first in almost twenty years. My heart sank. Nancy has a new car and her insurance rates recently went up and the points against her license would hurt.
The ticket weighed on me for most of the weekend – empathy, of course. I called her on Monday and she told me that she came clean with her husband on Sunday when she got home. Her husband originally wanted her to fight it in traffic court, since she was sure she didn’t do it. I reminded Nancy that the officer told us about pleading nolo contendere, which means no contest. Side bar: Why would the officer inform her of this? I think because he didn’t get her on the dash cam! If she chooses to go this route, the court will wipe away the ticket, after she pays a fine. I asked her how much the ticket was and apparently it’s not listed on the citation. She has to appear in court! Can you imagine? I’m so nervous for her, because that officer was not nice. What if he shows up in court and throws the book at her? I believe Nancy, but I wasn’t looking at the light. What if it turned red when we were in the intersection?
Then Nancy told me something else, and it is not good. The address on her license isn’t current, not by a long shot. That’s right. And apparently, according to her law-abiding husband, that’s a very bad thing. He discovered the truth upon examining her ticket, and he was not happy with Nancy. Now he’s thinking she doesn’t have a leg to stand on and should just pay her fine and be done with it. He actually said that she deserves the ticket! Yes, it was irresponsible of her not to update her address, but I can certainly understand. Who wants to waste a day at the DMV?
Nancy doesn’t know if she should get a new license before her court date or keep the status quo (and hope the judge doesn’t ask her), until after her appearance. Nancy knows the people who live at her old house, so they could tell her if something comes in the mail. Yes? Or would that make them accessories?
Nancy F!@#$%& up. What kind of advice should I give my friend?
This post was inspired by Mama Kat’s World’s Greatest Writing Workshop. This week’s prompt was to right something inspired by the word “late.”
For the record, we were not late to the conference.