2009 Sparty Winner: Column Writing

As a new driver, I have all kinds of fears. I’m scared of accidentally going over the speed limit or not seeing a road sign where I should have. I’m scared of going around the wrong curve. I’m scared of not seeing a bicyclist. I’m just plain scared.

In these past two months, I think I’ve done quite well for myself. I’m a cautious driver and always maintain a good speed. Even having confidence in myself while remembering to always be cautious, the fear of doing something wrong still lingers in my brain. The last thing I want to see are the red and blue lights behind me.

I told my mother this on a Tuesday morning. It was the end of month. She warned me before I left, “Watch your speed and all – the cops are in full swing.” Generally knowing that they swarm around the 30th and 31st, I responded with a hopeful “Yeah, it always happens around now,” and I repeated how I did not want to find myself on the shoulder with a cop in my window.

Her words were stamped in my head as I rounded the busiest part of Stadium Drive in mid-afternoon traffic and encountered multiple police cars waiting for their prey. Careful as always, I continued on my way and parked at my friend’s house. “I made it,” I proudly stated with a sigh of relief before locking my car and going in.

After an enjoyable evening, I was ready to enter the jungle of crime and punishment again. With care, of course. Since I’m a new driver, I have a legal (and parental) curfew of midnight. I knew I wouldn’t have trouble meeting this tonight, and I’d be able to do it without speeding. Once again, I was coasting down Stadium Drive at one mile below the speed limit. I was off scott-free. Then, it all came tumbling down.

Adrenaline rushing. In my head, I asked “Is it for me?” Then, I asked it out loud. “Pull over,” I told myself. Veering to the right and braking, there I was, shaking on the shoulder. I did everything I knew to do – turned the car off, opened the window, turned my music off.

“May I see your license and registration, please?” he asked.

With my quivering fingers, I slipped the card from my wallet and plucked the white envelope from my glove box. “What have I done wrong,” I asked in my head. I knew I wasn’t speeding. Every law raced a marathon through my poor, young brain. Everything but the real reason I was pulled over, that is.

“Ah, see the problem is that you’re registration expired in 2008,” the officer said through my window.

I almost wanted to laugh. I hadn’t done anything wrong! The registration? Why ever would that be expired!? I did what any clueless sixteen-year old would do and called my mom.

“Mom, apparently the registration has expired on the car. Didn’t we update this, like, two weeks ago?” We didn’t. So, I drove away with my heart pounding like a subwoofer.

At home, my parents weren’t too pleased with the hefty $105 fine I received, but hey, it’s their fault for not renewing the car I had just inherited from my sister. My mom complained that usually, the state will send out a warning 45 days before the registration expires, but that they failed to this time. In the style of Vonnegut, “so it goes.”

After this experience, I was keen to check my friends’ cars to make sure their registrations were up to date, too. Surprisingly enough, I found a good amount of cars that were also overdue for tags.

I told them to get on renewing the registration right away in order to avoid owing the state money. So here’s your chance – check your car, too.

Written by Quinn Stifler from Portage Northern HS.

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