The police cruiser had followed me from my hotel for several miles. When he grew tired of tailing me , perhaps a mile from my final destination , he turned on his lights. This is where I committed my second mistake. Apparently my first was driving. Still oblivious to the storm that was approaching I immediately took a left and pulled over on a quiet side street. It was then that I saw the first indication that something was wrong with my little universe. Viewing the cruiser from my rear view mirror I noticed that he had a bicycle mounted on the back of his car. The cruiser door opened and out emerged the cop with full bike cop regalia including black, perhaps too tight , bicycle shorts. The only thing missing was a bike helmet and the theme from Dragnet. I figured it wasn’t until recently that he decided the helmet was not required until he was actually on his bicycle. It could have been worse I thought , at least he wasn’t on his bike when he pulled me over. As the officer approached my car I could tell by his twitching jaw muscles that he was preparing to lecture me. I was still clueless as to why. Upon reaching my window he let loose with a tirade. Somewhere underlying his diatribe was the claim that, in California when your were pulled over by the police you had to pull over immediately to the right. Now I had several thoughts at this point Those were: 1) I was taught to pull over as soon as possible to an area that was safe; 2) I was in the left hand lane and pulling over to the right would have meant crossing a very busy right lane forcing the officer to get out of his vehicle in very heavy traffic. Hmm. Maybe I should rethink that and 3) The left hand turn lane which turned onto a quiet side street was immediately available.
I declined to share these with my lycra short clad friend. I believe he would not have been too receptive. He then asked the million dollar question. “Would you like to know why I pulled you over?”. Now in the past, when I was young and naive and hey lets be honest, stupid, my witty repartee would have gotten me in trouble. But, much to the disbelief of my family, I have grown wiser over the years and again I declined to share any thoughts I had at the moment. “Yes sir, I would “. I answered. “Your ve-hicle is not registered” he replied tersely. Now at this point I knew two things that he did not. The first was that I was driving a rental. The second was that vehicle actually has three syllables and not two. I declined to point out the latter but politely replied “Im sorry officer but this car is a rental”. Not missing a beat he all but shouted “ I do not believe a rental company would let an unregistered ve-hicle go off the lot”. How could I argue with that logic so I handed him my license and rental agreement. “What do you do for a living” , he asked. “ I am an engineer sir”. At that moment I noticed that all of the tenseness left his body. It was as if it was suddenly revealed to him that his wife had no clue he was cheating on her. Of course a car thief would never claim to be an engineer.
He went back to his cruiser to perform what I can only assume to be “wants and warrants” on me. Hey , I catch a few cop shows every now and then. I am sure however that he was dragging out the process to make me sweat. It was working. While waiting I entertained several thoughts. The first being that his shorts were definitely too tight. The second being that perhaps his blood sugar lacked the crucial donut molecules and lastly that I was driving a 300 with a Hemi and I could probably out run him. Lets show these California people what a high speed chase really looks like. But as I mentioned before I have grown wiser over the years and I sat patiently while waiting for the verdict.
The officer stepped out of his cruiser this time looking a little disappointed and his jaw muscles quite a bit more relaxed than before. His voice had lost its coarse tone and had been replaced by something slightly more authoritative. “You need to let your rental company know as soon as possible about this problem. Even though it is a rental it is your responsibility to make sure it is registered and I could write you a ticket but I am just going to let you off with an advisory”. Apparently an “advisory” is a more stern version of a warning. Although I could not believe what he had said I offered no reply. Besides my eyebrows spoke for me . “Yeah Right”. At this point my only recourse was to kill him with kindness. I thanked him, shook his hand and told him to be careful. The scowl on his face as he walked away was my reward.
I managed to make it back to my hotel that night without incident and from the safety of the hotel driveway I watched as the rental company towed away the old car and left me the replacement. A Chrysler 300, this time with no Hemi. There would be no chance for a high speed chase this time.