Friday, August 21, 2009

Blue Light Special

Blue flashing lights in one’s rear view mirror is rarely a welcomed sight. Either it is a signal for you to get out of the way or blunt indicator for you to pull the heck over. Often times, the sudden appearance of sirens and lights cause my unsuspecting feet to crazily clog over the pedals in a schizophrenic dance of uncertainty, trying to decide if I should stay or should I go, a thought similarly expressed by The Clash.

(If I go there will be trouble, And if I stay it will be double...)

For the record, I am very careful and very safe when behind the wheel and a somewhat manic passenger when not. The older I get the more worrisome the very fast interstate becomes. Those who have had the unpleasant riding experience of my presence to their immediate right understand my potential to demonstrate unfortunate backseat-driving behavior. My husband just wishes I would ride in the backseat.

Yesterday morning I impulsively decided to head to Atlanta for the day. I was supposed to be at work, but figured the joy of shopping would be worth any cross remarks made on my quarterly review. (Not to mention that my boss relies on me for supper and clean underwear, so I wasn’t too concerned about the possible repercussions.)

With my hands responsibly in the ten and two position on the steering wheel, I cruised along in the slow lane at a safe speed, mindful of all traffic laws and in full respect of law enforcement officers. (That was for you, Badge #97, and all of your quick and spiteful judgment.)

After an uneventful trip - minus the interaction with the burly truck driver who felt it necessary to wag his scary and grotesque looking tongue in my direction – I spotted my exit ahead and prepared to take the exit in a manner that can only be described as a state of upmost awareness peppered with extreme caution.

As I slowed, I suddenly noticed a police car, blue lights flashing and sirens screaming, traveling in the left-hand emergency lane in a BACKWARDS direction off of the exit ramp I needed to take. He was gunning it (pun intended) in reverse, and by my estimations, was going to crash into my car about the time I arrived onto the exit ramp.

What happened next occurred in a matter of seconds. As I veered to the left out of the exit lane to avoid a crash with Smoky, the police car came to a screeching halt, allowing my vehicle the room needed to safely exit towards all the glorious retail. With cat-like reflexes, I swung my car back to the right into the exit lane, passing the directionally challenged police officer in the process.

And then more blue lights, more sirens, with the added delight of a honking horn, directly behind my Expedition’s bumper.

For an erroneous moment, I thought that Smoky wanted to apologize for the distractions caused by his driving, commending me for the level headedness with which I responded when presented with a precarious situation on the interstate. Maybe this would serve as a good lesson and gentle reminder for him when there are circumstances that involve a gearshift placed in the wrong position.

With a forgiving heart and an abundance of grace to offer, I rolled down my window as Badge #97 approached my car.

“Ma’am, would you like to tell me what you were doing back there?”


I didn’t want to be disrespectful by pointing out that I was trying to avoid an IMMINENT CAR CRASH with the law, especially when exercising all manner of driving precautions as evidenced by my hands still in the ten and two position.

“Ummm, well, ..I was trying to exit....” I stammered, trying to remember if accusing a law enforcement officer of sub-standard driving warranted arrest. Plus, I didn’t want to hurt his feelings before he offered his apologies. That would be rude.

“I need you to give me your driver’s license now.”

“Well, okay,” was my very brave response, thinking that he just wanted to use my name when saying that he was sorry.

Smoky took my license and headed back to his vehicle. I slowly began to comprehend that somehow this did not mean good news for me. I am very perceptive like that.

After several minutes he returned, citation in hand, to explain the many ways in which I had broken the law with my indecisive and erratic driving. (His words.)

My brain, and flashbacks of the perverted truck driver, reminded me that I still had a tongue.

“Seriously?” I asked incredulously. “You were driving backwards on the very fast moving interstate with flashing lights and sirens and I was trying to avoid a collision with you. Where’s the emergency?! Clearly, my indecisive and erratic driving is keeping you from it.”

Long, scary sounding pause.

“MA’AM, THAT IS NO EXCUSE FOR THE UNSAFE WAY YOU WERE DRIVING!” the man barked, using his capital letters voice to let me know that those carrying badges and loaded guns are not tolerant of sassy mouthed housewives.

Unsafe? UNSAFE?! Did he not realize my hands were in the ten and two position?

“I have listed your violation as crossing the gore of converging lanes,” he continued, handing me the yellow ticket that meant I had a lot of ‘splainin’ to do to with my spouse.

“Your court date is set for September 23rd. Here is an additional copy in Spanish in case you didn’t understand your ERRATIC and UNSAFE driving in plain English,” Badge 97 concluded with a smirk, igniting a number of sinful responses in my head that I wisely managed to keep in said head.

Crossing a gore? What’s a gore? That’s how I’m going to go down, tarnishing the clean record that for years has demonstrated all manner of safe and cautious driving?

Later that night, I recounted to my husband the events that led up to my mishap with the gore. He was very understanding, and with a wink, suggested that I may want to spend a few extra hours at the office next week to appropriately pay for my driving waywardness.

I replied that he could absolutely depend on my help in the office, but depending on supper and clean underwear most likely would be a different story.

He can blame the gore advocate- Badge 97- for that minor inconvenience.


Anonymous said...

Ummm, what exactly is a gore (so I know what to avoid while driving)? Did you at least get to continue your trip and do some serious shopping? I can't wait to hear all about your court appearance next month! You really should write a book about all your are such a gifted author!

Annapolis, MD

Joni said...

Gail -

Still uncertain about the gore. I think it may be the triangle thingy that seperates the exit lane from the slow lane. Badge #97 didn't care to elaborate.

Shopping still occurred. It takes a whole lot more than a little yellow ticket to divert me away from some retail joy. : )


Jann2U said...

Be aware that it is often illegal to cross a freeway "gore area." This is the triangular-shaped zone formed by the single or double white lines of an on or off-ramp as it connects with the through traffic lanes. In some states, signage prohibits crossing a gore area, in others special striping is used (double parallel white lines). In these states, you MUST use the lane until it ends; the end marks the beginning of the merging area. Understand that it is NOT illegal to cross a single, solid white line—only when they are doubled is crossing them a prohibited act (unless posted otherwise). These are federal rules, adopted by most states.

Learn something new every day! Sorry you got the ticket. He could've been nicer!

Joni said...


You have made my day.

First, for clarifying the definition of the gore. My offering of "triangle thingy" was clearly inadequate.

Secondly, for giving me a valid reason to protest the ticket that stole about 30 minutes of retail joy. I crossed a single line, signs were not posted, and I was trying to avoid a collision with a car traveling reverse.

Stay tuned to see what happens September 23rd. I may even photo document the event with my i-phone.

Also,please join me in praying that Badge #97 doesn't read my blog. : )


Anonymous said...

I DO know that GORE was not in the booklet I had to study for my test...really. You gooooo protest that ticket. Ridiculous. Reverse on the ramp should warrant SOMETHING. good gosh almighty.

Joni said...


Thank you for your support. Maybe I will print your comment and submit it to the judge.

That will go over well, don't you think?


Work In Progress said...

I worked at Kmart when I was in high school and was the "Queen of the Blue Light Special". I had more $$ sales in the ladies dept than anyone else!! I was also the queen of your kind of blue light special this summer as well! Aa was so afraid I was going to have to go to jail that he offered to pay my ticket (if I promised to pay him back)! You can read my post for more details...did you "thank" the officer like I did?? How stupid is that!
Good luck in September...fight it girl!!

Joni said...


Gratitude was not offered. My heart was too black with all of the sinful thoughts provoked by the additional ticket given to me in Spanish.

I guess, the least I could have done was say, "Gracias." : )


Renee said...

Hi Joni, I will be there in court with you on the same day fighting the same ticket. I too was given a ticket for "crossing the gore" just one day prior to you. I could not believe that he actually gave me a ticket for that. I thought for sure he would just give me a warning and a lesson about "the gore". I tried explaining to him that I had just returned to the workforce and I was just on my 3rd day on my new commute, but his repsonse was, "I've already written the ticket and there's nothing I can do". My officer's badge # was 87 but their handwritings look almost identical. On my commute into work this morning I saw another lady get pulled over in the same exact area for the same thing. I certainly won't be crossing anymore gores :-) Good luck in court.

Joni said...


Wow. Evidently there is an Atlanta crackdown on gore violations.

Forget those who speed or those who offend with perverted tongues. The real danger resides with drivers who cross the triangle thingy, clearly igniting a crisis in the metropolitan area.

See you in court on the 23rd.


elizabeth said...

That officer obviously had to give you a citation to try and cover up his own eratic driving behavior! He was using YOU to cover up his own stupidity. Def. contest! That's ridiculous!

Joni said...

Thanks E! Somehow I find great comfort in your use of the word stupidity.

Your support is appreciated. Wanna ride to Atlanta on the 23rd? : )


Renee said...

Hey Joni,

I hope all is well. I wanted to find out how you did in court on the 23rd. At the 23rd hour I decided to go ahead and pay the ticket since I wasn't sure if I could make it to court on time. I live in Douglasville and we were trapped for most of the week, so to avoid having my license suspended for "failure to appear" I reluctantly made the decision to pay the ticket. I called the clerk to see if I could get another court date and I was told you actually have to come to court to request another date (RIDICULOUS). Anyway, when you get a moment let me know how you made out. I hope you socked it to Mr. 87 :-)

Joni said...

Renee -

I missed my date too. More on that later. Currently, it would seem as though I am a "fugitive" driving around with a suspended license.

And still they don't get that I am a very SAFE and CAUTIOUS driver.

On my way today to pay for the many fines. Pray that I don't get pulled over because it could mean a trip to the pokey.

(not really, but the dramatics make it a better story.... )