The first time I really had a run in with the law I was in Arizona. After a slow start to my freshman year at school I was feeling better, healthy, and more like myself again.
After a day doing a service project with my class I realized I needed another pair of flip-flops if I was going to be a full time Arizonian. Having no transportation of my own, my friend was kind enough to let me borrow his badass drop top white jeep.
I had never driven a jeep before and certainly not a convertible. It was quite a thrill especially in the blazing Arizona sun. So feeling good about my life I cranked up the music as I drove around the mall parking lot looking for the store I was headed to.
As I drove the loop of the mall parking lot looking for a parking spot I bobbed my head to the fierce tunes coming out of the stereo. I was completely oblivious to how loud the music was.
At least, until mall security told me to turn it down.
Shot down. Ok whatever no problem. I went into the mall, bought my flip-flops and then hopped in the jeep to head back to campus to get ready for the party that night.
Again the music went up, my foot hit the pedal and as I was again bobbing my head to the beat, feeling good, driving the mall loop towards the exit when I passed a cop headed in the other direction.
It wasn't until that moment that I paid attention to my speed. I quickly covered the break and locked my eyes on the rearview mirror as I watched the cop pass, slow down, make a u-turn and hit the siren.
He quickly caught up to me easily since at this point I was driving about 5 miles per hour.
I pulled over into a parking spot and started sweating and shaking uncontrollably.
The officer walked up to the car asked for my license and registration.
The license of course was in my dorm and as for the, registration I had no idea of its location.
When I tried to explain to the officer that I thought you didn’t need to have your license on you (based on some stupid rumor some idiot out of state freshman had told me) the officer disagreed. Him being a police officer and having a gun, he won that debate.
I searched for the registration but couldn't get the glove box open until I realized there was a key on the key chain. I finally got the registration, the officer ran my student I.D. (a ridiculous piece of plastic with a purple sunset on it that proved nothing except the fact that I was a moron from not Arizona).
As the office so kindly explained, there is speeding and there is criminal speeding. Criminal speeding consists of going more than 20 miles over the speed limit.
I was going 22 over.
Criminal speeding... In a mall parking lot.
If that doesn't scream I am an insecure teenager I don't know what does. It was simultaneously expensive, frustrating and embarrassing.
My second interaction with the police also happened on a motor vehicle and also happened in Arizona.
I had gotten a job at a bar about 20 minutes away from my apartment. I wasn’t a big fan of the bus so I bought a scooter. It was a little red Vespa lookalike from a brand called TGB, Taiwan Golden Bee. It was a much cheaper competitor to the Vespa, which means “Wasp” in Italian.
It had a small 49 cc engine, which I liked because any engine over 50 CCs meant I needed to get a motorcycle license, which I didn't want to do.
One night I was riding my scooter back from Wendy’s with my helmet on making the turn onto the 2 mile stretch of road back to my apartment when I saw the flashing lights that make your ass clench and heart race all at the same time.
I pulled over and the police officer asked me where my protective eyewear was. This is something that is required by law. I told him it was in the mail, which may or may not have been true.
He told me not having any was illegal and he asked to see me license. So I showed it to him. He looked at it for a second before looking up asking to see my motorcycle license.
I told him I didn't need one because this scooter was only 49 CCs and thereby below the legal limit mandatory for a motorcycle license.
He told me that completely untrue. By law I needed a motorcycle license. Him being a police officer and having a gun, he won that debate.
He told me I wasn’t allowed to drive it home. I could have somebody with a pickup truck come pick me up or I could push it home.
And believe it or not pushing it home seemed to be the less embarrassing of the two options.
So I pushed my scooter home. Two miles. I had been pulled over for not following one rule and was ticketed for completely disregarding another.
One thing had become clear to me at this point; I was done listening to what people told me about the license laws in Arizona.
But it wasn’t until this past weekend that I had the most ridiculous and depressing run ins with the law. This time I would have nobody to blame but myself… and a homeless person.
To be continued…