I am a dirty little rule follower. It’s true. In the days of coloring outside the lines, I am the girl still drawing a bold line within the lines so as to be doubly sure I stay within the lines when I finally do get around to coloring.

No really, I color like that. I was taught once that was how it was done. And HEAVEN FORBID I draw outside the lines.

Maybe it’s my slightly neurotic tendencies:
“My doctor called to tell me there’s a place on my bone that is weak. I bet I have bone cancer.”
“Josie, you always have to go there, don’t you?”

Maybe it’s my worst case scenario mentality:
“…but if we leave the key in that lock then a burglar can punch through the glass, unlock it, and come in and kill us.”
“You had to go there.”

…Which combine to breed my sometimes fatalistic leanings:
“Ever get the feeling that this is the best your life is going to get? I have this feeling it’s all downhill from here and that something’s about to get messed up. ”
“Seriously, Jo. You’re messed up.”

Whether I follow the straight and narrow because I’m neurotic, or I’m neurotic from all my unwavering rule following, I don’t know. But I’m a don’t-go-more-than-10-over, don’t trespass after-hours, “but-the sign-says” rule follower. Because the one time you stray, Murphy’s law WILL find you and then woe be unto you. Boring? Yes. Alive with all limbs in tact? Yes. Don’t ask me to tell the decapitation story because I TOTALLY WILL.

So, anyway, there’s a point.

Tuesday, I’m flying down 280 (and by flying, I mean I was going 10 over) and shamelessly bopping along to the radio…because we all know that if you are contained by four walls–transparent or otherwise–then clearly no one can see you and judge you. Anyway, suddenly, with my amazingly paranoid problem-predicting radar (alliteration, woo!), I zone in on the motorcycle cop who has just merged into the lane on my right.

He has a helmet on, so I can’t see any aspect of his face, but of course I immediately presume he is watching me. I slowly move one lane to the left (legally). I keep bopping to my song, but a little less enthusiastically and with one eye occasionally referencing my rearview mirror. He changes lanes, too, the dirty sneak.

Once more, and very casually, I change lanes again. This is actually very acceptable, I reason, because I have to turn left soon anyway. Natural Nancy, that is me. I look back in my mirror and see that the schmuck has changed two lanes and is now behind me. No lights, though. He’s playing it cool. The devious devil, he’s after me. He wants to ticket me and mar my perfect record just because he can. Of course, the reasonable part of my brain holds up a finger to suggest that perhaps he is simply going the same way I am going. It’s not out of the realm of possibility. Plus, this small voice reasoned, you are a dirty little rule follower and therefore have done nothing wrong–a huge point in your favor.  The larger majority of my brain, however, squashes that dissenter down with the very sensible: OF COURSE HE’S GOING THE WAY I’M GOING, HE’S STALKING ME LIKE A CAT ON THE PROWL. I ease into my turning lane (legally) and look back again. There he is. Just waiting for me. Still no lights. The sicko.

Well, why drag it out further. I turn (legally) and he turns, and voila, the lights of impending doom flash in my rearview mirror. I pull over with the small voice in my head still reasoning that he must be after someone ahead of me, but no. He pulls up behind me and kicks out his little bike stand. He is going to give me a ticket. My insurance is going to go up. My dad is going to take my car away and I’m going to have no way to get to work and I’m going to be forced to move home and mooch off my parents for the rest of my life and I’ll be an old maid and this is how my sick, sick brain works. I always go there. 

I put down my driver side window and wait patiently, then jump a mile when he taps on my passenger side window. I roll it down as he chuckles good-naturedly, “Sorry to sneak up on you, there.” Sneak? Sneak?! YOU’VE BEEN TRACKING ME FOR A MILE, YOU SADIST.

“I’m sorry, sir, is something wrong?” I ask sweetly. Thank goodness I showered and painted my face today.
He inhales deeply as he pulls out a writing pad. Or a ticket. It’s probably a ticket.
“Well,” he sighs, “I need your license, proof of insurance, and registration, please.”
“Was I speeding?” No. No, I was not speeding.
“Well,” he drawls, “I ran you on the system and it says your tag registration is expired.”
“Oh…that’s funny, isn’t my tag up to date on my license plate?.” There’s an up-to-date tag on the back of my car, you imbecile. I choose to bat my eyelids. Don’t judge me, men, if you thought it would work, you would too.
“Well,” he heaves, “you’ve got a Georgia tag and they’re different from Alabama tags. I saw a “10” but I didn’t know if that was the year or a county…and then it came up expired on the system, so I just decided to check it out.”
“So, you just pull up behind people at random and run checks on them for fun?” Don’t worry, folks, I veiled that in pseudo-flirtatious tones so as not to get tasered. But seriously. Get a life, Po-boy. Like you’ve never seen a GA tag.
“Well, it’s just me and one of my buddies running this road all day,” he laughs.

Well, it should be no surprise to you that I was able to provide everything required and guess what, I’m free to go. While I immediately like him better for not making up some reason for a ticket (can they do that?), I resent him for pulling me over for the heck of it (can they DO that?!). So I ask him, ‘is there any way to update the misinformed “system” to avoid another similar situation?’ “Nah,” I’m told, “it’ll catch up eventually.” Awesome. When I got home, I looked at the back of my car and compared it to an Alabama tag. They both bore the number 10.

Them forrun-like tags, they be complikated.