Yesterday I wrote about my last day teaching preschool in a fairly comprehensive and sentimental fashion. Here is a very specific story that happened on Tuesday that was too much of an outlier to wrangle into that piece…
Once a month during the school year, my boss and I would take a small group of 4-year-olds to the local nursing home. The kids sang songs and put on a little show for the residents, and everyone had a good time. Our students got to feel like stars, and the seniors got a little extra companionship and attention. We never had any unpleasantness happen, excepting the one Halloween where the children all wore costumes, and one of them dressed up like the Grim Reaper.
Generally, though, the monthly trip passed without incident. My boss and I loaded three students each into our cars (with car seats of course) and lugged them the two-ish miles to the nursing home. Pretty simple operation.
On Tuesday, though, we hit a snag. I will preface the rest of the story by saying that it starts off unfortunate and then ends up weirdly very lucky. At first everything seemed to be business as usual. I was driving. The kids were engaged in their typical mid-ride banter: “Josh, how come your car is so messy? My daddy’s car isn’t this messy. Oh! There’s a gas statation…and there’s another gas station…AND THERE’S ANOTHER GAS STATION!!!” We were about a quarter of a mile from the nursing home when I got pulled over. Yikes.
At first, the kids were kind of excited. There were flashing lights and a siren, and children haven’t yet learned that you rarely have a police officer approach you with good news. Either you’re reporting a crime that’s been committed against you, or you’re being apprehended for doing a crime. And I hadn’t broken any laws, but getting pulled over is like getting an HIV test in that even when you haven’t done anything dangerous, you still get a little antsy.
The officer came up to my window.
“I pulled you over because your inspection sticker has expired,” he explained. He was not wrong. It had. “I need your license and registration” I handed them to him. “You’ve got a boatload of kids back there,” he continued. Again, he wasn’t wrong. Three kids is an awful lot when you’re twenty-six and not Catholic.
“Yep,” I said, not knowing how else to respond. He took my paperwork and walked to his cruiser. By this time, my students had grown bored. The sirens had stopped, and the police officer had moved out of sight, and he hadn’t arrested or shot at anything.
“When can we go?” the kids began to whine. To pacify them, I decided to lead a singalong. The four of us launched into “The Wheels on the Bus” with a great deal of enthusiasm. Just then, the officer came back.
“Cool it. The fuzz is here,” I said to the children. They didn’t get it, but I had fun.
“I’m going to let you off with a warning,” the officer began. Great news. I’m never the guy that gets a warning. I rarely get pulled over, but when I do, it’s tickets all the way down. I can’t figure it out exactly. I’m always polite. It’s never for anything especially reckless. My best guess is that I a. don’t have any cleavage and b. am not “Boston-y” enough to appeal to a sense of kinship or sympathy in an officer of the law. I know that sounds insane, but I have a secret belief that if I could just offer a convincing: “Yah, guys. I know that stickah’s expiyahd. But how about them Bruins, kid? Mahhhchaaaahnd! then I’d be off the hook every time.
But anyway, this time I get the warning. That’s fortunate if a little strange. But here’s where the weirdness goes off the charts. Before he lets me go, the officer says:
“These all your kids?” to which I honestly reply…
“No.” He considers for a moment, nods, and says…
“Well have a nice day, sir!”
Really? No follow up question there? There were two possible responses to that question, and I gave the red flag answer. Wow. What could I have said to elicit further queries?
“Are these my kids? Well, they are for now. You want one? It’s gonna cost ya, but I’ve got to unload one fast…my basement ain’t big enough for all three.”
How is it that a lapsed inspection is a pull-overable offense, but a potential triple kidnapping is ho hum business as usual? Is it a paperwork issue?
Either way, thanks officer. For turning a blind eye to the crime I did commit as well as the way worse crime it appeared I was committing but wasn’t. Best. Pull over. Ever.