Posts from August 2008.

Thought Crimes

Last night, around 11:15 PM, I suddenly realized that I needed something for work the following day. So I hopped in my car and zipped to the local grocery store, a mile away. On the way home, I was pulled over for speeding.

“Do you know how fast you were going?” the cop asked after approaching my window. I did, because I had glanced at the speedometer the moment he’d appeared in my rear-view mirror. “Yeah, about forty,” I said, rounding down a bit.

He let my fudging go unchecked and moved on to question #2. “And do you know what the speed limit is?” Thirty-five, I responded dutifully.

“Well, right now it’s 35,” the policeman conceded. “But during the day it’s only 25. Because this is a school zone.”

He paused for dramatic effect, before saying “And just imagine if you’d been driving 40 when school was in session.”

Maybe the suggestion was rhetorical, but I have a pretty active imagination and decided to give it a whirl. I closed my eyes and envisioned myself traveling 40 miles an hour, cresting the hill at midday. Before me are a dozen children, gaily frolicking in the middle of the street. What are they doing there? The school is half a mile away and completely fenced in. And surely they have some form of supervision, right?

I pushed aside such doubts, determined to comply with the officer’s request. In fact, I decided to go the extra mile. I am not just driving my Toyota Corolla while school is in session, thought I, I am behind the wheel of a truck. A tanker truck. A tanker truck of nitroglycerin!

I barrel over the summit at 40– no, 90 miles an hour! The cab of the vehicle briefly lifts from the ground entirely, as if about to take flight, before slamming back down to the asphalt. The scores of children sitting in the road ahead freeze, their faces suffused with apprehension. Each holds a goldfish bowl containing one of the few remaining specimens of the endangered Knysna seahorse.

As I approach, a single ray of sunshine pierces the overcast skies like a javelin thrown by God, ricochets off the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle, and strikes the back of my truck, igniting a small fire. I told those fools not to make the tank out of chipboard! In the rear-view mirror I watch as the blaze spreads, gnawing its way through the wall of the vessel.

When I again return my attention to the road ahead of me, I see that the nuns, into whose care the students have been entrusted, have rushed into the street, frantically trying the herd the children to safety. Their cries of terror echo from the houses nearby, as the distance between us dwindles …

Haha. No, I’m just joking–I didn’t imagine any of that. I just adopted my “dude you blew my mind” face for a few second and then said, “wow, yeah. I totally see your point.”

Anyway, long story short, he gave me an imaginary ticket for imaginarily driving 40 during imagined school hours, and a warning.

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