License and Registration, Please

This weekend, we made the trek up to Washington to celebrate some of Nathan’s family’s birthdays.  They live in Skamania County in the Columbia Gorge, which is a really beautiful area no matter what time of the year.


Nathan’s mom was able to get us a room at the Skamania Lodge at a majorly discounted rate (thank you!).  The Skamania Lodge is a massive hotel tucked away in the woods above Stevenson.  It’s got conference rooms, pools, hot tubs, restaurants, and a gazillion rooms.  I guess it is pretty fancy schmancy in comparison to your regular old Best Western.  It doesn’t have the luxuries, amenities, or privacy of a five star resort (we realize now how  spoiled our honeymoon made us), but it’s certainly nice enough for a one night stay.  My biggest complaint was that the heater was louder than our furnace at home.  And we all know that I am a regular Kevin McAllister when it comes to loud furnaces. 


Nathan went out in the evening to celebrate his brother’s 30th birthday, and I stayed at the hotel to relax.  I had planned to hit the hot tub and pool until I realized how many children were there for spring break and nixed that plan.  Instead, I ordered room service and watched Bridesmaids.  The beauty of room service is that you can order off the children’s menu without being judged.  I had checked out the dining room’s menu, but as appetizing as rabbit soup does NOT sound (yes, I said RABBIT soup), this is not the Hunger Games and I am not a starving citizen.  Also, I am morally opposed to paying more than $20 for one meal.  I returned to my room and ordered the $5 kiddie grilled cheese and fries, and then dug into the Keebler Elf cookies I got at Market of Choice earlier that day.


Around 11:30 that night, I went to pick Nathan up from the birthday bash in the next town over.  It’s about a 10 minute drive up Highway 14, which is a really curvy, dangerous road.  Another storm had rolled in, it was extremely dark out, and I was driving in a torrential downpour and could barely see anything.  Fun, right?  I picked Nathan up, and we headed back to the lodge.  Almost immediately after I turned onto Highway 14, a car appeared behind me.  Their headlights were blinding me even more, and I complained about it and adjusted my rearview mirror, joking to Nathan to watch behind him and make sure it didn’t end up being a cop.  Turns out, the joke was on me.

Not less than a mile later, I notice the flashing lights behind me.  I was not speeding (the speed limit is only 50 MPH, and I was going 40 due to the rain, dark, and sharp curves with gigantic signs recommending speeds of only 30 or 40).  “Are you kidding me?” I said to Nathan.  “I’m not doing anything.”  I pulled over, irritated and annoyed because I KNEW I had not been breaking any laws.  The following conversation then took place (after I had rolled down the wrong window, because having never been pulled over, I did not know that cops approach the passenger window and not the driver’s). 

Officer: “Hello folks, –”

Nathan: “What exactly were we doing wrong?”

Officer: “Don’t interrupt me!  Now as I was saying, I pulled you over because you have a brake light out.” (Readers should note that I was not aware of the brake light being burned out.  However, while one brake light was out, the other two were working perfectly fine.  If you have a husband as smart as mine (or access to Google) you will find out that the law only requires two working brake lights.)

Nathan: “OK . . .” (While wondering why this warrants me being pulled over.)

Officer: “Also, I noticed you were driving slowly”. 

Me: “I can’t see anything.” (Gesturing to the monsoon outside.  And wondering if this officer would rather be peeling me off the roadside because I was speeding and wrecked in the pouring rain.)

Officer: “No drinking tonight, right?”

Me (makeup-less, wearing glasses, past my bedtime, and wondering how stupid this guy has to be to even suggest it): “No.” (Although I may or may not have been on a chocolate/sugar high from all the ElFudge cookies, so take THAT!) (And if he really thought I had been drinking, I don’t think he would have just ASKED me and taken my word for it.  I’m pretty sure he would have said, “Prove it.” So why bother asking me, dude?)

Officer: “OK then, license, registration, and proof of insurance please.” (Leaves me to stew about the unjust-ness of it all.)

We sat in the car for a few minutes while he ran my information, only to find that I have never committed a crime or traffic offense in my life.  HA! 

Officer: “Where are you folks headed to tonight?”

Me: “Back to the lodge in Stevenson.”

Officer: “OK, well I am going to let you go with a warning.  Make sure you get the brake light fixed.  Have a good night.”

Nathan & I:  Silence. (Wondering how I could be getting a ‘warning’ for something that is not a ticketable offense. Wondering exactly how fast he expects me to drive in massive storm.  And very much NOT wishing him a good night in return.)

I cannot tell you how MAD this whole experience made me.  I have never been pulled over in my life until last night.  (Once in high school, I thought a cop was pulling me over.  I accidentally drove off the shoulder of the road trying to pull over for him.  It turned out he just was in a hurry to get somewhere, felt really bad that I got so scared, and he came back and helped me get my car back onto the road.  Very nice guy.) 

I am not pretending to be a good driver – I speed, I drift, I forget to use my turn signal.  (Heck, when we finally did get back to Stevenson, it was so dark and rainy that my husband had to point out to me that I was driving in the turn lane instead of my own.  Pull me over for that, if you must!)  But if I am getting pulled over, it should be for breaking the actual rules of the road.  NOT for complying with the law by having two out of three working brake lights.  NOT for driving at safe speed in inclement weather on a dangerous road, because I am terrified and would just like to get back to my hotel alive.  And NOT just because I happen to be driving late at night.

I have never agreed with the stereotype that cops are jerks.  I still don’t.  I like to think that they are mostly good people who are just trying to protect us.  But with my experience last night, I finally understood the reasons why that false stereotype gets perpetuated.  Being in the situation, it was very clear that this guy did not pull me over just to give me a friendly heads up on my brake light.  I felt targeted, like this guy saw me pick someone up from a bar, and pulled me over HOPING that I had been drinking and he could bust me.  Well, too freaking bad for him.  I hope he felt like an idiot when it became very obvious that I did not have a single drop of alcohol in me, and that I was just a traveler from out of town trying to navigate an unfamiliar road in the pouring rain.  I would NEVER consider drinking and driving and endangering myself or others on the road, which is why I was serving as a designated driver in the first place.  I’m still mad just thinking about it. 

In the end, I guess the real joke was on the sheriff.  He was the one who had to stand in the pouring rain, get freezing cold and soaking wet, only to find out that he had pulled over a innocent person whose biggest traffic offense was terrible night vision.  Happy April Fools, buddy. 

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