I made a California Stop.
You heard me. A California Stop.
It began like any other day. A beautiful, cloudless Sonoma afternoon. A warm, sunny 3 pm.
I remember it well.
I did the school pick up and drove happily away with my chicks, chatting endlessly about dramatic friends and tests. I groaned at another dreaded project. We were on our way to soccer practice.
It happened then.
I stopped. I always do just before getting on the one lane freeway. I will say it again. It is one lane each way. Mindful of the children in the car, I pulled forward after the stop to look both ways. I have to, because I can’t see. Traffic was heavy, coming at me from both directions.
I heard the quick burst of a siren. Saw the lights come on “Oh boy!” I said to the girls, “someone’s getting a ticket.”
Um, that someone was me.
I was gobsmacked. Flabbergasted. All in a dither. What did I do?
The officer wasn’t pleased. I had interrupted his day perhaps, maybe he was on his way to an important lunch. He was going the other way after all.
That was quite an effort to turn around and come back after me.
He said I had failed to come to a “complete stop” at the Stop sign. A rolling stop, in fact.
Well, I wasn’t going to argue with him. He was clearly hungry and er, well, hunger can release the beast inside. I had snacks in the car, but um, my youngest was holding on tightly to the bag I wanted to offer him. She did not want to share with the man who had just stopped us and scared her to bits.
My children know I stop at the sign, only because I say it everyday. I have driven this route for six years, often four times a day. And there is an officer on his motorbike who sometimes sits parallel to my car with his radar aimed at oncoming traffic. Wait! I hope it’s not the same officer. He usually has his helmet on.
Had I known, I would’ve fixed him with my best smile, waved at him everyday, asked after his family.
I had a dreaded court date. My palms were sweaty. My friend from New York said ” why didn’t you disagree like New Yorkers do? tell him emphatically, you did not make a rolling stop.
Tell him what? you can do that?
He was in a hurry, He was intent on giving me a ticket. Perhaps the last ticket of the day. Maybe he was going home early and he needed to get rid of his book – it looked tired, his book I mean. Busy day I guess.
So what did I do? I did not go to court. I did practice a bit in front of the children in case I needed to. I was on a roll, pretending I was on the Good Wife. There was no Alicia Florrick to help me, nor did Kalinda offer to investigate the scene and take photos, so I paid the fine. It was an admission of guilt. California needed my money. I didn’t roll, so why didn’t I fight? I don’t know. I went to traffic school instead. Online of course. It was tedious. I learned a great many things. Clearly I needed a refresher. I was fined for making a California Stop after all.
One of those half stops. Just a by the way stop. Stopping for the sake of a stop but on the move at the same time. A cool as a cucumber kind of Stop.
I will now address the stop by its new name, giving it a lovely California vibe. After all when in California, one must call it what it is. I will be sure to stop and never pull forward even if I can’t see. I might have to roll down my window and ask the officer what he can see. If not, we will be sitting there a very long time.