While in Arizona from August 14, 2010 - August 21, 2010, I had a rental car. Because I refused to upgrade and pay $11.00 more per day for a mid-size car, my son and I had a Cobalt for the week. I drive a Neon. I'm fine really with any car that runs. At least that's what I thought! That was until I realized that the Cobalt didn't have cruise control!
I live on cruise control. I know I've mentioned it before, but I tend to drive my Neon as if I'm in Nascar. I've been told since driver's training that I have a "lead foot". I like speed. However, I do not like the ramifications of speed. You see, my bread and butter, comes from my employment which requires that I be able to drive. My bread and butter also literally may come from the ability to spend my income at the grocery store rather than paying off points and higher insurance premiums. I did have to participate in driver's re-education when I was in college. At that point in my life and after the birth of my son, I had almost realized that the ramifications of speed weren't worthy. If I was a few minutes late, sobeit, life would go on; however, that just means I leave a little earlier. My last ticket and also the last time I was pulled over, was in 2002. Eight years ago.
Of course that was until our vacation in Arizona. Not even an hour earlier, I was talking to my girlfriend on the phone insisting that my Cobalt and lack of cruise would be my demise. I did my best to watch my speed. My son and I were heading to Kartchner Caverns from Scottsdale Arizona. I wasn't in the mood to drive and I found Arizona drivers to be more than annoying with their sudden breaking in the middle of the highway and lack of respect on the road. I had encountered many drivers driving under the speed limit unless you went to pass and then they would accelerate a good 15mph faster if not more! I decided to just roll with it and enjoy our travels. I was talking with my son, listening to music, driving and munching on Baked Doritos.
I was contemplating how I no longer seem to like the taste of the Baked Doritos as they taste stale and cardboardlike. A car in front of me slammed on the brakes and I did a quick check to my right and switched lanes. I finished my Baked Doritos and continued to drive. Getting frustrated with the drivers, I switched over another lane to the right to just go with the traffic. I looked in my rear view mirror and a motorcycle was up my butt! I looked again and realized it was a uniformed police officer on a motorcycle up my butt that at that moment turned on his lights.
Maneuvering an additional two lanes to the right, I pulled over on the highway. The officer parked his motorcycle and approached the passenger side window where my son sat. I had absolutely no idea why I had been pulled over. I hadn't been speeding. I wasn't on the phone. I had even finished eating. I take full responsibility for my actions when I speed. I would never cry to get out of a ticket, especially if I deserved it; however, I had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA why I had been pulled over. NONE.
The officer yelled something, which I asked, "Excuse Me Officer?" I assumed he had asked for license and registration and I proceeded to get both to hand to my son to the officer. He then yelled at me, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" No kidding, I can't hear you either. I passed my information out the window at which point he said, "GET OUT OF THE CAR MA'AM."
A flood of thoughts race through my head as I process his proclamation: Okay now seriously? What in the world have I done? Why I am I being asked to get out of the car? Am I going to jail? Will Protective Services be contacted to take my 13 year old son somewhere? Is this really happening? Is my dress going to fly up with ongoing traffic wind?
I meet the officer back at his motorcycle. He asks what I am doing in Arizona. He asks where I am heading. He tells me that I need to slow down and that I switched lanes three times and only used my turn signal once. He proceeds to tell me that laws are the same in Arizona as they are in Michigan that if you change lanes, you must signal unless you are at a four-way stop and you are the only one there. (Really? Is this guy serious? It is not illegal to not use signals and I have always prided myself that I DO use signals! As for slowing down, I wasn't speeding but I say nothing. I stand there trying to keep my dress from flying up, eyes hidden behind my sunglasses just wondering what he will say next.)
He continues to stare at my license and registration. He asks if he has pulled me over before. He tells me that he pulls over a lot of people and he has pulled over someone with my name (I assume maybe the last name, but I'm not going to inquire. I answer NO.) He hands me back my information. He tells me that he is going to write me a couple warnings and that I need to "slow down" and "use my turn signals" then he instructs me to get back in the car.
So after eight years, I had my first encounter with being pulled over and my first ever encounter with a motorcycle officer. I would love to say that I did slow down after that, but his warning was for "69+" in a 65, which I wasn't even doing that! We drove almost 1200 miles during the week that we were in Arizona. I was pulled over on the third day. So no, there were times on the trip that I found myself hitting 80 and even higher going with traffic. I can say, that there wasn't a single time in Arizona that I didn't use my turn signal!
Lesson Learned: Never Rent A Car Without Cruise Control