A California Stop and a Ticket

I made a California Stop.

A what?

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.

STOP_sign www.en.wikepedia.org

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.




  1. uhm… you could have told him that you would stop twice next time….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know I’ll be watching for him next time.If it is the same man on the bike – I will wave and smile as often as I can. They usually come out at the end of the month. *grumble*


  2. Firstly how good are you doing an on line course refresher, me..not so much. We have to completely stop too, but now and then I do a roll, when no one is looking that is. Just give him that wonderful smile of yours and the wave each time, who cares if it’s not the same one each time lol. Reminds me of the time I drove my ex to the station. It was summer I had a summer nightie on, couldn’t be bothered changing… I didn’t give way to a car when I turned, in a world of my own..half asleep..oh yes it was an unmarked police car.. How embarrassment ..morning officer!! 💙💜💚 xxx


    1. I’m giggling like crazy, that would be one good morning for the officer!! ooooh in a nightie too. I wish mine had acknowledged that I needed to stop, then pull forward to see, if not, I’m asking for an accident. I even took photos for my court date, then decided no probably not.
      I think I will smile and wave. Maybe even ask him if could actually stop and pull forward? I never know because I see everyone doing it. Sigh. I’m going to be California casual about it. Pssst.. do you still wear the nightie?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. MM, MM. Have we become complacent? They say most accidents happen near the home, and it is when we are most familiar with our surroundings that we mess up and break the rules. I’ve had to do traffic school, but it’s been a while. It was back when the concept of online traffic school was just starting, so I actually went to a physical, 8 hour traffic school class. It was actually pretty entertaining, though long. There are a few things I learned and still remember. Like ALWAYS come to a full stop. Even if you can’t see, you must first come to a full stop. Then, you can inch your way until you have a line of vision. I also learned to never ever block a handicap spot. Even if you’re using it to make a K-turn, and there’s no one in the spot, or if you’re unloading and blocking access to the spot, you can get a MAJOR fine. So don’t even think about it. I love that your friend said to do what New Yorkers do and argue your way out of it. But what kind of example is that for the kids? The very first time I got a ticket (I’ve gotten three in my entire life), was in Maryland and I went to court and was able to get a reduced fine just for showing up and asking. The other two times, both in California, I went to traffic school. The first one was a complete trap. That very day a traffic light had been installed where there used to be nothing. I was making a right turn into a parking lot and didn’t notice the new light. I was distracted in my thoughts and I thought I knew the road very well. Anyway, the right turn into the lot was midway into the “intersection” and that got me a ticket. Man, I was so mad.

    The second time I was on the freeway, heading to work on cruise control, singing along to a country CD. Did I mention the cruise control was set to 80? Well the cop pulled me and another car over at the same time–two in one! When he asked me how fast was I going, I was honest. So he knocked 5 miles off and wrote on the ticket that I was doing 75. That made a lot of difference in how much I had to pay, so I guess it was his way of being nice. Anyway, that was at least 10 years ago, maybe more, and I’ve done my best to follow the rules and stay out of trouble.


    1. I can’t tell you how many times I went over what happened in my head, Monica. This is my first ticket. I’m that extra cautious driver, the one that slows down and allows the crazy speedy man to pass me, even when he isn’t going anywhere because he’s stuck behind a big truck on this one lane freeway. I’m the one who comes to a complete Stop, every single time, before inching forward. I’m that strange driver who stares at the person who cuts people off.. I suppose it was my time.
      I came to a complete stop. Then inched forward, the officer was going the other way and passed me at the time I was inching forward. He assumed, I guess, that I had not come to a complete stop and turned around to come after me. My speed limit on the ticket was funny because it said I was doing 15 in a 25 zone. School is 25 miles away from home, quite often a 45 minute to an hours drive in the mornings. You’re right, it does say on the driver’s manual that most accidents and traffic violations occur within a 25 mile radius.
      I’m now ultra careful. Not just stopping well before the white line but waiting it out until I can safely pull fwd and drive.


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