Sigh. The title of this blog just makes me cringe, and it has taken me a month to share. But in June I got my first speeding ticket. I was traveling home from surprising my dad for Father's Day weekend, driving on a road parallel to the interstate. I truly thought the speed limit was about 55mph...turns out it was 35 instead. As soon as I saw the lowered limit I slowed way down but just as I did, a police car pulled out behind me and my stomach dropped.
He clocked me driving 59mph in a 35mph zone. I was so shaken up that I remember thinking, "whew, at least I was only going 14 over...otherwise it would be reckless driving!" When I did the math again, though, I realized how fast I was traveling. While I truly did not mean to drive that fast - and honestly I never do! - I knew it was my fault for not noticing the speed limit sign.
The officer walked up and asked for my license and registration. I just sat there praying he would have mercy on me for some strange reason. When he came back I had mixed news - while he was still going to write me a ticket, he decided to waive the reckless driving option because I was so polite to him. Hands shaking, I thanked him profusely while I signed the paper, then I pulled slowly out onto the road and kept driving.
I am not in any way proud of my speeding ticket. I hope it is both my first and my last. At the same time, though, I reflected a little on my reaction. When I was a teenager I got pulled over and the first thing I did was burst into tears. Through the sobs and "I'm sorry's" the officer let me go with a warning because he probably felt too guilty to come down hard on someone so upset.
This time, though, I held it together. I may have been terrified but I owned up to my mistake. I was certainly upset and extremely sorry, but I did not shed a tear. In a small way, getting a speeding ticket made me realize that I am an adult. Sometimes I am an adult who is unobservant or misses things like speed limit signs, but I am an adult nonetheless. It is both a privilege and a responsibility to own my errors and not try to excuse them or cry my way out.
I never want to get pulled over again, and I have learned a lesson about paying attention and not assuming. (I've also learned that processing fees alone on a ticket are ridiculously expensive) But as I write this I am just a little proud of who I have become and how I have grown up since the scared little high school girl I once was.