In May of the following year, I landed a co-op position at a big accounting firm and was anxious to make a good impression. About a month into my co-op term, I was pulling into the office parking lot around 7 AM to catch up on some work, when I noticed red and blue lights in my rearview mirror. Confused, I stopped the car in the middle of the parking lot and rolled down my window. How could I get a speeding ticket in the parking lot?
"Step out of the car, miss," said the stern-looking officer. "I'd like you to come around to the rear of the vehicle." Clutching my purse, I hurried behind him, hoping this would be over before my co-workers began arriving for work and saw me being questioned by the police. When he stopped suddenly at the back of the car, I almost ran into him. "Look at that," he jerked his head toward the car. "Well? What do you have to say?"
"Ummm...are you not allowed to tie your license plate on with wire?" I guessed, grasping at the only objectionable thing I could see. The cop stared at me with amazement. "That's not the issue. Look at your sticker. It was supposed to be renewed in November!" "November," I replied stupidly. "Renew what?" "OK, license, registration and proof of insurance, please," barked the cop, glaring at me. I fumbled through my purse.
"Here's my license and this other piece of paper - I think it's my registration," I said, my hands shaking as I handed them over. Why was he being so mean? And what kind of renewal was he talking about? Peering at my license, the cop asked more calmly, "So you live at 123 Dippy Street?" "Oh no!" I said brightly. "That's my parents' address. I just left it as is on the license because I move a lot as a student, and then I don't have to keep updating my address." Silence. "And where's your proof of insurance?" said the cop in a strange tone. "I keep it in a shoebox at home so it doesn't get lost!" I chirped. Over his shoulder, I could see my co-workers pointing at me as people began to arrive for work and head into the building.
The cop began firing questions at me: "So. Your license renewal is six months overdue, you don't have the address where you're currently living on your license, and you aren't carrying proof of insurance with you. Do you even have insurance? Why haven't you kept these items up to date?"
In a mortifying step backward for modern women everywhere, I lost my head completely and sputtered wildly: "I don't know! I don't know! My boyfriend takes care of all this!" Eyeing me with one arched eyebrow, the officer drawled, "Well, he's not doing a very good job." (This infuriates my now-husband to this day). Apparently realizing that I was genuinely clueless, the cop told me to go sit in the car while he wrote up my citation.
Five long minutes dragged by as I sat there wringing my hands. I hate getting in trouble! The cop reappeared at my window and proceeded to give me an education session on required driving documentation. Apparently some of the paperwork I'd done when I'd bought the car hadn't been a one-time thing. And who knew driver's licenses had to be renewed every year? When he'd finished explaining the rules to me, the cop began going through the fines for each of my licensing and documentation infractions.
"Oh thank you, officer," I gasped in relief. "I'll get everything in order today, I promise!" Rolling his eyes, the cop handed me the ticket, wished me a good day and drove off. My ordeal was over.