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Thursday, 29 March 2012

First Traffic Ticket

By Mary B Summerlin who keeps a photostream at Flickr

Once, long ago, in the early 1950s, I was a high school student in a small town in South Carolina. I had borrowed the family car on that Saturday afternoon so I could go to town to visit my girlfriend, Debbie.

I had my permanent driver’s license. At that time you could get it when you were 14 years old. It was no big deal – you just went to the police station and took the test. The license was a metal dog tag. So I was feeling grown up and responsible.

My visit was a time of comparing notes on our girlfriends, boyfriends, teachers, clothes and other essential topics in our high school world. There was much giggling and promising and her mother always served up some baked goods from the kitchen.

After our visit, I left and started to drive out of the prosperous residential neighborhood.

There was no traffic anywhere to be seen so when I came to a stop sign, I carefully looked both ways and then went ahead. Immediately, there was a police siren. I looked back and there was a policeman on a motorcycle motioning for me to pull over.

I was terrified. What, what did I do wrong? He asked for the driver’s license and then informed me that I had not stopped at the stop sign.

“I did,” I protested.

“No,” he said, “you did not come to a complete stop. You did a ‘rolling stop’. That is not good enough.”

By now I was in tears, feeling humiliated and embarrassed for not following the rules. He had no mercy, he gave me the ticket.

After giving me the ticket, he pulled away and I was left wondering where he had been since I had not seen him. Then I realized that he had been hiding behind a big billboard just waiting for someone like me to come by.

Now I’m left with some terrible problems. The ticket is about $2.00 but I can’t just go home and tell Mama and Daddy what an awful thing I have just done and it costs money too. I’ll have to figure out a reason I need to borrow the car and go to town alone next week (when I have to pay the ticket).

I’ll have to save my allowance to get the $2.00. And worst of all, my uncle was the town civil engineer and his office was in the court house along with the police department. What if I ran into Uncle Si and had to explain what I was doing at the police department. The thought of it just sent me into a tizzy.

I got home and when asked about my trip into town and my visit with my friend, I managed to nonchalantly say everything was fine, nothing unusual.

The next week, I said that I need to go to town to get some school supplies that I had just thought of. Mama said it was okay as long as I didn’t stay long. I had the ticket and the two dollars stuffed in my pocket.

The next problem was to get by Uncle Si. I parked in the parking lot far away from the building and walked from my car to the building in a “spy like” fashion - head down, slouching and trying to be invisible. I got inside and luckily the police offices were right by the door.

I paid the ticket, heaved a sigh of relief and left as quickly as I could. I got back in the car and went home. Oh, I did remember to pick up some school supplies.

I kept that secret until I was in my 40s. Then I told them and I’m still amazed – the world did not come to an end.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Great stuff...wonder if it dates us all or if those first tickets, esp. in small town, time we all came of age, etc. makes any difference..talk about another time, another place...I felt like I was holding my breath as I was reading the story..and exhaled as you made your getaway...Thanks for sharing...

Great story!!

Must be "our 40's" is the magic number for confessing to old 'sins.' Our two over-50 daughters started in their forties and still slip occasionally to relate a story they are still feeling guilty for not telling us at the time it occurred.

Their excuse is, "We didn't know if you could deal with it back then."
Michigan Grandma

Just great. Thank you.

Fun story, Mary..I remember Nancy Drew getting in and out of scrapes like that..

You told it so well I felt I was right there with you dodging Uncle Si!

You may have been cocky then, but you are one of the safest, best drivers I know now, Mary--maybe you got it all out early! I'd trust you anywhere!

Thank you for your kind comments, friends.

Funny. I actually hit a mac truck with our pickup when I ran into a local town to buy something at a store. When backing out, I hit this huge truck. Man, did I worry like mad that my father would notice the little ding on the back of the topper! Thanks for sharing. My world didn't come to an end, either.

Oh Mary, how things have changed in our lifetime. Now, photos are taken of us as we err and we don't even know until weeks later when our ticket arrives in the mail. And it's more like $200 than $2. I love how you told the story (of course).

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