Friday, May 13, 2011

Conversation with a State Trooper

A couple of weeks ago I was pulled over by an Alaskan State Trooper. You know, the ones with the great hats.

I was on my way home from work one day and was driving, I admit, my usual 70 MPH or so. The speed limit was 55. I noticed a trooper ahead of me and he moved into the right lane. I thought he was moving over to make a right-hand turn. I had slowed down but as soon as I passed him, the lights and siren went on.

I pulled over, he approached my window and the following conversation ensued.
Trooper: "Ma'am, I'm Alaska State Trooper, Forest Stone. You were driving 75 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. How fast do you think you were going?"

(Not his real name. I felt though that he needed a masculine sounding soap opera-ish psuedonym. But I digress...)

Me: "Oh, 60 or 65."

The sun was blinding me. The brim of his hat did nothing to shield my eyes.

Trooper: "Ma'am, 65 is STILL 10 miles over the legal speed limit of 55 is it not?"
Me: "True"
Trooper: "Where you headed ma'am?"
Me: "Fairbanks."
Trooper: "Where?"
Me: "Fairbanks. I'm going home. I work at Eielson. With the children, sir."
Trooper: "The children? Ma'am?"
Me: "I'm a speech therapist. I work in the schools. I'm going home after a day of working with the children."
Trooper: "Ma'am do you have any weapons in the car?"
Me: "Uh, no."

Weapons? Did I really look that suspicious? Part of me wanted to pat my coat pockets and say "now where *did* I put that glock?" But I refrained. I must have had a puzzled look on my face.

Trooper: "I have to ask ma'am. This is Alaska."
Me: "Of course, I understand."

I didn't understand at all but I wasn't about to ask for further explanation. He was sounding downright mean.

Trooper: "Are you a member of Al Quaeda, or any other terrorist organization, ma'am?"
Me: "Uh, no."

Well shoot. My approaching-middle-age-chubby-white-girl cover was blown.

Trooper: "I'm going to need you driver's license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration."
Me: "Okay"
Trooper: "Ma'am is this a rental car?"
Me: "Yes, it is."
Trooper: "Well then, you may not know where the registration is but you should have your proof of insurance."
Me: "Not to worry, sir. I know exactly where the registration is."

I didn't tell him the reason I knew this was because I had been pulled over by North Pole police less than a month prior and had discovered the registration location at that time. I knew the routine.

I handed him the documents. He seemed interested in my California driver's license. Oh goodie, I thought. He's going to want to know all about the beaches and wine country. Now we'd have something to chat about! I can make it sound like we're all living the life Michael Chiarello portrays in his show "NapaStyle" and wouldn't, you, state trooper, like to join us?

Trooper: "How long have you been in Alaska?"

He methodically turned my license from front to back, over and over. It was like listening to a metronome being slowed down beat by beat. I felt a burning deep in my stomach. The flipping of that license, back and forth, back and forth, seemed to be marking my last minutes of freedom. I didn't want to be put in handcuffs -- I bruise easily.

Me: "Since January."
Trooper: "January?!? Ma'am, Alaska state law requires you to get an Alaskan license within 10 days of entering the state if not here on vacation."

Uh-oh. I read that one wrong.

Me: "But I'm a contractor -- I'm leaving in a month!"
Trooper: "I can understand how you would have that perspective but the law does state within 10 days regardless of how long you'll be staying."
Me: "Oh."
Trooper: "I'm not going to cite you for this but please be advised that this is the law."

My, if he wasn't a stickler for the law!

Me: "Okay, thank you, sir."

The Trooper returned to his car to run my license. I sank into my seat and sent a few texts warning people that I may need bail money. This was not going well. His tone had been downright mean and he was not amused by me. At all.

In my rear view mirror I could see him walking back to my car. Okay, here was my chance to turn things around. I hadn't done so well in the first half of our conversation but maybe I could do some damage control.

He reached out his hand, holding my my license and registration. The sun was blinding me but I knew from the angle of it hitting my face that my eyes were extra sparkly. Combined with the royal blue shirt I was wearing, I was fairly certain I had this. As I turned my head towards him and reached out my hand to meet his, I gave him an extra big smile and looked him square in the eye, without squinting.

Me: "Thank you, officer." I said, while cocking my head to the side.
Trooper: "Ma'am, I'm going to let you go with a warning."

His tone had softened.

Trooper: "But you should know that this would have been 4 points on your record and would take 5 years to get rid of."
Me: "WHAT?"

Now my eyes were popping out of my head from the aneurysm I was having.

Trooper: "California is a reciprocal state. I'm sure you want to be able to take the money you make here, home. You don't want to leave it here, right? Ma'am?"

My mouth had gone dry and I was having trouble speaking.

Me: "No, sir, I don't."
Trooper: "Well then, I suggest you follow the speed limit from now on."
Me: "Yes, sir."
Trooper: "Have a good rest of your day. Be careful, ma'am."
Me: "Thank you, sir."

I gave him one last smile and eye sparkle while I fought back the vomit.

Since my Trooper intervention, I've amended my ways and now cruise down Alaska State Hwy 2 at a cool 60 mph. Yes, still, 5 miles over the legal speed limit, but it's all I can commit to.


  1. Ummmm...not a good way to meet handsome guys, Hedo.

  2. I think I used to work with that guy. Clay