On Sunday night I was driving home from my parents house in Marlton, NJ. This is not an unusual situation as I have been having dinner with my parents every Sunday since my family moved away last year. As I customarily do, I called my wife so that we could chat for the ride home. I use a Blu-tooth earpiece for my phone so essentially, I am hands free and legal. As I passed the abandoned Champs Bar and Grill I changed lanes from left to right and immediately caught the police lights go on in my rear view mirror.
Now, the crazy thought start to run through my head. What did I do wrong? Did I just cut him off? Did I drink at my mom’s house? (yes, 1 glass of wine). What kind of crazy encounter am I going to have? Do I have all of my documentation? Is he/she going to be nasty? Should I record this? Should I dig through my glove compartment? Will he/she think I am looking for a gun? Fear and terror filled my person. My wife said it would be better to end the call so not to confuse the issue. I hung up and rolled down my window…yes legit rolled. The car is old.
After waiting for what seemed like an eternity a knock came at my passenger window. I nearly choked myself reaching over to the other door’s manual crank. (Well, at least I won’t get a seat belt violation.) After getting it down the officer introduced himself as a member of the Evesham Police Department. At that very moment, I realize that this is a guy from my home town. I am on a drive through highway that connects many towns, but this person is here to protect my home town. I begin to relax…not in any small part related to the fact that this man was treating my like I was an honored guest at a party. He informed me that my registration was coming up expired in his computer. I checked my glove compartment and came up with the same answer. He asked for my documents and he went back to his car. I called my wife and explained to her that it was a registration issue.
When he returned to my car he indicated that the violation would not be a moving violation but since so much time had passed since the car was registered, he had to write up the violation. He also helped me with the process for registering the car and told me the best way to get it corrected without having to run the risk of a repeat violation. He also helped me identify that my insurance was due to expire in one day. We chatted about a couple of things and I ended up going away with a very good feeling.
I began to reflect on all of the traffic stops that appear in the news. You know…the ones that go horribly wrong. These are the ones that we see recorded and get plastered all over the media. I can’t help but wonder about my anxiety and just what caused it. I can’t help but think about the media accounts of discourteous cops and belligerent citizens are making us believe that this situation is far too commonplace.
I have heard that it takes 10 positive experiences to cover up the one negative impression. If this is true, then hopefully this story will go towards reminding people that one badly recorded episode of people being at far less than their best is not representative of the greater population. Maybe then, the next time I get pulled over. my anxiety level would not go through the roof.
Tomorrow, we can talk about the NJ Motor Vehicle Agency. Now there is a trip through crazy😭