Tuesday, July 30, 2019

"Remember, If It's Out During The Day... It Will Be Out At Night!"

I've been driving for nearly 40 years. The last car accident I was in occurred in 1990 when a vehicle rolled backwards into me. This past January I struck a deer for the first time on my way to work. The last time I was stopped by a police car was in 2008 when I was driving in eastern Montana on a bright summer's day. The reason? I had a burned out headlight and was in a car that (for some reason) had headlights that were always on. I was given a warning.

This morning I was driving to the office on a usual summer day when I passed an oncoming police car in a 35-mile-per-hour zone. I was driving a couple of miles below the limit, but noticed the police officer put his lights on and do a u-turn... speeding up behind me. I assumed he had just received a call and was on his way somewhere. I pulled over to get out of his path only to see his car pull right up behind me. I was absolutely puzzled as I looked in my rear-view mirror at two young officers who couldn't have been any older than my eldest daughter. Neither of them were getting out, and I observed them chatting for a couple of minutes as I sat there on the edge of the road.

Then, one officer got out and started to approach my car on the passenger side... very slowly and cautiously. At this point I was completely baffled as to what was going on. I rolled down the passenger side window and said good morning. He looked at me with both hands gripping the front of his belt and said, "I stopped you because you have a headlight out. I'll need to see your license and registration." I didn't even know my headlights were on! I asked if he was going to write a ticket over something like this -- as the morning sun was shining down. He informed me that he was writing a warning ticket and that I had to get it fixed today. He walked back to his patrol car and proceeded to take at least 10 minutes as I watched him in the rear-view mirror chatting to his partner.

Eventually, the officer returned to my vehicle. He handed me my license and registration, along with the warning ticket about the burned-out headlight, and said in a deep and rather serious tone: "Remember, if it's out during the day... it will be out at night!" I had to bite my tongue to not respond with, "Thank you, Captain Obvious."

Perhaps some small town police officers are bored, or have to make their quota by the end of the month. Regardless, writing a warning ticket for a headlight being out on a sunny day seems absolutely ridiculous to me -- as ridiculous as it did over ten years ago when the same thing happened in Montana. You know where I'll be heading after work... to get a new headlight bulb.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso