I have always enjoyed driving, though I have never been very good at it. I particularly enjoy driving alone—other people tend to comment on the aforementioned terrible quality of my driving and make me feel self-conscious, which results in even worse driving.
Soon after getting my driver’s license I went through a phase where I often went out driving at night with the distinct intention of getting lost. From there I would spend hours and a fortune in gas trying to find my way home. It made me feel like some kind of badass explorer, charting new territory out on country roads late at night with only a dilapidated barn and some road kill for company.
One night I ended up about an hour away from home at one in the morning in a little town called Fairlawn. Fairlawn is so little, in fact, that it has an eleven o’clock pm curfew for minors—a curfew that I was unaware of.
I did not drive slowly on my nighttime explorations. After all, badass explorers did not drive slowly into the night. They sped, with the wind on their heels! So I was going 77 miles per hour in a 65.
Right before the turnoff for the highway, I saw red and blue blinking lights in my rearview mirror.
I pulled over and a mustachioed officer in his mid twenties approached my car. He asked if I was aware of how fast I’d been going, then how old I was. He made me follow a penlight with my eyes several times. He seemed disappointed when it became clear that I wasn’t drunk or on drugs.
He explained Fairlawn’s curfew policy and told me to call someone to come drive me home—I wouldn’t be allowed to drive home on my own. So I called my mother and told her that she and my father would have to drag themselves out of bed to come pick me up.
Wooster is about forty-five minutes away from Fairlawn. I had also woken my parents up in the middle of the night and Officer Mustache would not let me wait for them in my own car.
This state of affairs led to me sitting in the back of a police car for nearly two hours.
I spent the first thirty minutes of this imprisonment in a coil of nerves about how angry my parents would be about having to drive all the way out to the middle of nowhere in the wee hours of the morning.
But then, well… I started to get bored.
Officer Mustache sat up front, poring over a book of ordinances, searching for the official record of Fairlawn’s charmingly Footloose-esque curfew policy. When I had been stuck in the back for forty-five minutes of painfully awkward silence, I cleared my throat and in a high, nervous voice, I asked, “So, how’s it going?”
He didn’t even glance back at me, just replied, “I’ll find it in a minute, you’ll see.”
“No,” I said. “I mean, like, how are you?”
Now he paused and looked through the grated barrier at me. “I’m all right, I suppose.”
Another long silence, then I squeaked, “Did you always want to be a police officer?”
He scratched his chin thoughtfully. “Nope. I wanted to be a fighter pilot.”
I was silent for several seconds. “Well. Being a police officer is about as close as you can get to being a fighter pilot without actually being a fighter pilot.”
“Huh,” was the policeman’s only reply, but I think he appreciated my comparison. When I later received my ticket, there was no mention of my absurd curfew violation.
Part of me wondered if Officer Mustache made the whole damn thing up. I later confirmed on the Internet that he had been right about the curfew, and had simply chosen to give me a break.
At heart he wasn’t really Officer Mustache, he was Officer Fighter Pilot.
|Forgiver of Curfew Violations, Mustache Extraordinaire, and Captain of the Skies!|