After teaching last evening’s comedy defensive driving class (it’s like doing a six hour show), I was approached by one of my students. A husband that had attended with his wife. She was in there for a speeding ticket. He was in there for “moral support”, plus an insurance discount. He whispered “You know why I haven’t gotten a ticket in a long time, don’t you? It’s because I’m a retired police officer.” I recall saying something stupid like “That’s awesome!” When I was actually thinking “Oh sh*t!I hope I didn’t say anything to offend him.” If so, it was all in jest. After all, it is comedy defensive driving. I do respect the police and what they do (and I’m not just saying that to get myself out of a ticket in the future).I may have mentioned the word “donut” a time or two…and I recall feeling like a hack. Thank God they don’t write tickets for being a hack…if they did, I know some open micers who would be serving life.
In my class, I hear people talking about living in the suburbs, feeling safe in their town because it’s very well patrolled. Police are very visible. Making these people feel safe living there…until they get a ticket from one of those police, then they’re all “Those darned cops…why don’t they pick on real criminals?”
A majority of my students attend the class because of a speeding ticket. That’s pretty common. Most young boys in my class are in there for high speeds over the limit. Putting the pedal to the metal to see how fast their car really goes, to see if the speedometer, past that certain point, is real or fake. I mean, you gotta try it…at least once! In Texas, if you are speeding 25mph or higher over the speed limit, you may not be able to take a defensive driving class, and the ticket may go directly on your driving record. For a young man, their insurance is already high enough. And I have found that most police officers, especially male officers, because they, too, did the exact same scenario when they were young, and know too well how high a young male’s insurance is, will empathize with them by writing the ticket for a lower speed over the limit. This way, they are able to attend a class, and the ticket therefore will not go on their driving record. And their already high insurance rate won’t increase. Now, that’s nice. I don’t care what you say. Of course, giving a warning would be nicer…this is true.
I warn my students that the police are really stepping up in regards to writing tickets for low speeds over the limit, not signaling, changing lanes within an intersection, just grazing the solid double white line, speeding on the access road to get a good running start when entering the freeway and exiting the freeway above the exit ramp speed limit. To name a few. Police are only human. And, like most humans, some are kind and some are cranky. It’s just human nature. Being a traffic cop is a job that I certainly would not want. Pulling people over all day long. Getting the sour puss. No one would ever be glad to see you. “I’m so glad you pulled me over…I needed somebody to talk to.” Some of those police probably leave for work in a fairly good mood and by the end of their shift, they’re over it. The disrespect and bitterness they must endure, plus putting their lives on the line, I would rather be a bill collector. At least you don’t have to look at those people.
And, in my experience, all the police really want from you is the truth. If you’re honest with them, that’s all they want…that, and you following the traffic laws so you don’t put yours or anyone else’s life in danger. And, I bet they’ve heard it all. All kinds of elaborate stories. So don’t try to pull any b.s. on them. They can smell b.s. a mile away (and they probably use laser to detect it).
Until next week…be nice. Everybody’s just doing their job.
( Daun Thompson is a comedienne, writer and artist residing in Dallas, Texas )