On Friday, February 15th, I was driving on Tower Road in Winnetka, Illinois (on my way to visit my mom) and was listening to my voicemails. I came to a stop (well, sort of) at a Stop sign at a 3-way stop, proceeded up Tower Road, and turned Right on Hibbard Road. As I turned I noticed a Winnetka Police car behind me. The cars lights started flashing and I pulled over to the side of the road. “Oh no, what did I do? Right! Now I remember—Winnetka has a no cell phone rule!”
As the driver’s side window lowered, I heard, “Excuse me, ma’am (not so Southern and friendly sounding—more tough-guy Chicago style), you didn’t come to a complete stop at the stop sign at Tower and Vernon. May I have your license and insurance, please?”
“This is a rental car. I’m from Kansas. Here’s my license.” I handed it to him and then also added my rental car contract.
“Do you have a good driving record, ma’am (still the tough Chicago sounding “ma’am”)? If so, I’ll just give you a warning.”
“I have a clean driving record, Officer.”
Let’s pause here—Cliff’s notes of the past few blog entries will bring you up-to-speed: July, 2006 I received a speeding ticket in Kansas City, Kansas, where they allow people to plead down to a non-moving violation when they show up on a specific court date; I forgot to show up; the State of Kansas reminded me of the missed court date by suspending my driver’s license; my trusty attorney talked to the powers that be in KC, KS, and I was allowed to still change from speeding to jaywalking and the State of Kansas lifted my suspension; or, so I thought…
Back to Feb. 15: As the policeman processed my license, I patiently waited and worked a Sudoku puzzle. When I looked up I noticed the policeman was talking to another policeman in a second police car. “I sure wish they’d visit on their own time!” I thought. “Maybe I’ll give them the ‘North Shore entitlement glare’! That might get him moving!”
Window on its way down, I heard, “Please step out of the car, ma’am (was this a more menacing “ma’am” or was I just imagining it?). You are driving on a suspended license. I cannot allow you to drive in the State of Illinois until you have a valid license. I could take you to jail; however, I will move your car to a side street and you will have to arrange to have it picked up. Should you be caught driving, I promise you that you will go to jail!”
“My license is not suspended!” I protested.
“Ma,am,” a new and more menacing voice said, “When we punched in your license number, Kansas responded it is suspended.” The new voice was attached to a taller, older cop who apparently arrived to help control this potentially unruly Kansan. “We could take you to jail, but we won’t. The officer will issue you a warning and you can call for someone to pick you up.”
As I fumbled for my phone, the officer softened, “Where are you on your way to?”
“My mom’s at the Mews.”
“Okay, put your phone away. I’ll take you there. Please get in the back seat of the car and be careful because the seat is firm.”
So, began my odyssey of experiencing a ride in the back seat of a police car. By the way, the back seat is, indeed, “firm!” It’s made of molded plastic—definitely practical but oh-so-NOT Winnetka! Arriving at my mom’s, I exited the comfy back seat, turned to the cop and said, “This is probably not the best time to ask you this, but would you like to experience a voyage into Outer Space? I am an Accredited Space Agent for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Would you like me to send you some literature about Virgin Galactic?”