DATE: 5/07/2004 08:55:00 AM
I'm starting to think the universe just doesn't want me to get to work on time.
First there was all the oversleeping. Then there was the pothole. Now this.
Last night I had to cover the second thrilling installment of "Bricker" Town Meeting, and for the second time this week didn't get to bed until well after midnight. Six hours later, as I lay snoring, occasionally jamming a finger onto the snooze button of my frantically beeping alarm clock, occasionally just letting it beep, my cell phone rang.
This was the plan. Kellie was right on time with her wakeup call. "Whhhuuulllo." I rasped.
"Let's go, it's 6:30, gotta get up."
"Oh, my God."
"Come on. I know it sucks, but you gotta get up."
"You don't understand, Kellie. I want to die."
"Yeah? What time did you get to bed last night?"
"Ouch, that totally sucks. But you gotta get up."
"Okay." I heaved and lurched myself into a sitting position.
"Are you up?"
"Are you sure?"
"Do you need me to call back?"
"Are you sure?"
"Okay, I'll talk to you later on tonight."
Stumbling into the bathroom to take a shower, I passed my mother. "Was your phone ringing just now?" she asked, bewildered.
I was out of the house by seven. No way was I going to be late this time. My clothes were clean and taken from actual hangers rather than the floor. My hair was clean and freshly washed, drying in the sunshine. I had my sunglasses, which was key on a bright morning like this. My cellphone was fully charged. I had two full bottles of spring water to combat my ever-present morning dry mouth. I had a 3/4 tank of gas. I had written a news story that would be appearing in the paper this afternoon, and now I was heading off early in the morning, nose to the grindstone, power-suit career woman. On top of all that, I might even have time to stop at the White Hen for cigarettes, nasty coffee, and a chocolate-chip muffin.
I was feeling pretty darn good about myself. And very grateful to Kellie for going above and beyond the call of friendship duty, of course.
Traffic on Rte 3 was slow as always, because apparently people without jobs to actually get to like to get up and drive around on the highways going towards Boston at rush hour slowly, smelling the roses along the way and coming almost to a complete stop whenever they see a piece of heavy construction equipment, men in hard hats, or piles of dirt by the side of the road. Other turn-ons for these people include long walks on the beach, driving with their blinker on, and people stopping to change a tire in the breakdown lane.
But I was calm, cool, collected--awake, alert, alive, enthusiastic, even. Whereas on a normal day these people drive me into fits of steering-wheel-clutching, teeth-gritting spasms of rage, today I let them be. God bless the rubberneckers today--I left the house early and am prepared to forbear them in love.
128 was a little slower than usual as well, but finally, triumphantly, I got off the exit to Woburn at 7:40. The on ramp was slow, Washington Street above the lights was slow, but I was about a mile away from work by 7:50. No time to stop at the White Hen, unfortunately, but since today is Friday, someone would probably bring in donuts.
And then I glanced into the rearview mirror and saw the flashing blue lights.
You know, "Do you know why I pulled you over?" is really the worst question in the world. There is no correct answer to this question. If you say, "no", you look dumb, and if you say, "yes," you look really dumb.
The officer informed me that my license plate bore an expired registration sticker. He asked for my license and registration. He got back into his cruiser.
It is probably impossible to explain how totally inconvenient a place it was that he had chosen to pull me over. It was a) blocking a driveway, b) blocking the road on a side street and c) blocking the straight / right-turn lane just before a set of lights. It was bad.
Somehow, though, I have an innate knack for dealing with cops. I don't know how I do it, but somehow I must affect the proper apologetic look at them. Either way, the cop had seemed to be apologetic, himself, for having to pull me over. Meanwhile, however, he was taking his sweetass time in the cruiser.
7:55 was the time on my car clock. It was still possible, being that it was only a mile away, to make it to work by 8. It was still possible.
The cop stayed in the cruiser. People had to swerve around us. Traffic began to back up all the way down Washington St.
7:57. I opened my checkbook and looked back at recorded checks. Aha! What do you know. A check for $41.00 to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles for what? Survey says! REGISTRATION RENEWAL!! Dingdingdingdingdingdingding!
7:58. I dialed up the bank. For a specific check enquiry, press 2. I pressed two. Please enter the check number.
The bank's voice-system lady talks like the female William Shatner. "Check number 333 for...forty one...dollars and...zero...cents was credited on...March? Twenty...ninth?"
The cop came back. "You do have a current registration," he said. "You just don't have the sticker on your license plate."
"Yeah, I was going to say..."
"Here's a written warning, but you can just throw that out if you want. You just need to get the sticker so you don't get pulled over again, okay?" he says like he's my dad and he's Very Concerned About Me. Meanwhile his ass is stuck so far out into the swerving, bottlenecked traffic he's created I'm surprised he hasn't gotten the handcuffs on his utility belt there caught on someone's side mirror and been dragged off, kicking and screaming.
Or maybe that was just wishful thinking.
The clock said 8:08 when I finally got to work. And oh, yeah, I now have to spend my lunch hour at the RMV.