My heart felt full in my chest.
I turned up the volume on the radio a few dials and took a deep breath. A violin concerto filled the truck. What a good night. How lucky am I to have this flexible schedule to meet good friends out like this.
My phone glowed with Google maps telling me straight for 8 miles. I figured it was late, so it would only take me about 30 minutes to get home.
I had just left my friend’s house. I wasn’t too familiar with the area but settled in for the ride.
Not even minutes later, my heart sank. I heard an engine rev loudly and race up behind me, lights flashing. I couldn’t fathom what I had done wrong, so I waited for them to come over. Intensely bright lights shone in my face. A gruff voice asked me where I was coming from; I figured he wanted specifics, so I tried to tell him the street I had just been on.
In all my travels, hundreds of hours on the road, never had I been pulled over. I prided myself in my driving ability, along with having this giant truck, speeding did not come easily.
But apparently, I had been speeding—46 in a 30.
“I’m not from here. I’m sorry, I thought it was 45.” I told him honestly. This was Transit Road, after all, a busy four-lane freeway practically.
“Out of the vehicle,” was his reply.
“Been drinking tonight?”
The dreaded question. Do you lie, and have them test you and reprimand you for lying? Or are you honest, and I hope they will observe how I was OK? I did the latter, mostly because I believe being honest is still the best policy, mixed with a little bit of observing they were going to harass me no matter what I said, I mean they were already digging through my truck looking for god knows what. All they found was gently playing classical music, a backseat fitted out for a dog, and boxes of items to donate to Goodwill. Not seeming to believe any of it, they proceeded to make me stare into a flashlight, walk the line on the street, and recite a specific section of the alphabet. All things, mind you, that I would most certainly fail while sober (minus the eye test, apparently your eye will jerk involuntarily, I can’t walk straight lines or take directions when I’m sober most certainly).
They proceeded to tell me I failed all the tests and gave me the breathalyzer. I had no idea what it would be, I had been enjoying beers over a long period of the night, and felt fine.
“What are you doing out here?” the one cop was practically in tears as he handcuffed me. I had some living things in the truck bed, and they couldn’t believe my stories of hiking and living on the road. I was trying to be nice and honest the entire time, not that any of it made a bit of difference. I should say, any deviation to help me in that situation at least, I did notice they got sadder and sadder the more they talked to me. I wasn’t a bad person, but it was state troopers, and they were doing what they do, speed traps at 1 AM.
Long story short, they brought me to an empty barracks, handcuffed me to a bench, and had me watch them type incredibly slow for an hour. They assure me how lucky I was that they weren’t putting me in a jail cell. I nodded. It seemed to shift from sad sympathy to annoyed confusion quickly.
I get this a lot; men think I am heartless because I don’t cry, almost making them suspicious. I never know how to respond to it. Would it make me seem like a better person if I had tears running down my face? When I cry it’s because I’m extremely sad, and is just as rare, I was not extremely sad here, just extremely disappointed.
I finally was removed from the handcuffed bench to get fingerprinted. I told them I’ve been fingerprinted before for the volunteer work I do. They slunk a little lower and typed even slower.
After forever, I got to call my friend (who is a SAINT by the way and knew exactly how to find me), and she drove me home at 4 AM.
I spent the next couple days paying cash to get my truck back and texting everyone in my phone that might know a lawyer, but mostly feeling like a piece of shit.
How many times have I drove home after a wild night and made it home no problem, but pulled over after a girls night in Lockport? How many people have I heard were let off this kind of thing? Why me?
I couldn’t fathom it. But there it was glaring at me with all its implications.
I got so many different reactions; I didn’t know how to feel.
I have two therapists (because I’m that extra), and their reactions were the opposite. Some friends sympathized, others judged. Some responses were condescending, some motivating.
It took all of these different reactions for me to realize the fact that none of the opinions mattered.
I know myself better than anyone, and for the past six months, I’ve dedicated the majority of my time figuring out who I am, believe it or not, for the first time in my life. Hours upon hours of tearing my insides apart to build an indestructible foundation. Sure, this was a huge mistake, and it happened. But I’ve come so far, too far to let this dim my shine. I can look myself in the mirror and know that I am OK, and will continue every day to be better. We all make mistakes, and I am prepared to deal with mine for the next three months and beyond.
This entire situation was almost inevitable, seeing as I was lost in whether to stay in Buffalo or go. My answer came in this abrupt way, making it clear that I will have to stay. Here’s to summer in Buffalo after all.