By Dom Cioffi
Nearly 35 years ago, on the day after I received my driver’s license, I drove to my girlfriend’s house and parked out front. After hanging around inside for a couple hours, I returned to my car and found a ticket slid between the wiper blade and my windshield.
When I read the scratchy handwriting, I learned that I had been issued a ticket for a parking infraction. Apparently, during all that studying to pass the driver’s test, I missed the section where it stated that it’s illegal to park on a public street facing the wrong direction.
You’d think that would have been a bad omen for any future driving endeavors, but I have been lucky enough to avoid any serious run-ins with the police. In fact, my only confrontations with law enforcement have been when my lead foot got the better of me.
There was that time I got pulled over on the interstate while driving to Cape Cod during my senior year of college. Another time, I got nailed on the way to work on that beautiful stretch of highway outside The Mountain Times offices. And then there was the time I was visiting friends out of state when I completely missed the speed limit sign and blew through a school zone (that’s a costly mistake you never want to make).
But my most eventful speeding ticket happened on a beautiful spring afternoon while I was driving to the golf course.
I was probably in my mid-30s, that time in my life when I was most obsessed with golf.
When it came time to play golf, I was consumed with my pre-round routine, which involved a detailed warm-up period on the practice green. I knew that without this warm-up period, my game would suffer. And if my game suffered, I suffered. And if I suffered, generally those around me suffered (namely my wife).
This was the time prior to cell phones and GPS, but I still had a very accurate idea of how long it would take me to get from my house to the golf course. On this occasion, I was running late, so I knew I would be hard-pressed to get in any viable practicing. Consequently, my driving attitude was filled with irritation.
As I was traveling down the main route to the course, I spotted a cruiser pulled to the side of the road. I slowed my speed down and, as I drove by, noticed the back door of the vehicle open with the police officer rummaging around inside. This was my trigger to gun it once I was safely past, which is exactly what I did.
Several minutes later, as I was pulling into the front gates of the golf course, I caught sight of flashing lights in my rearview mirror. Before I knew it, I was holding a $150 speeding ticket and being lectured to, “Slow down.”
Obviously, I was incensed by the situation. How could that officer issue me a ticket while he was busy poking around in the backseat of his vehicle? I was certain I had a good case to have the infraction tossed out by the judge if I opted to show up at the assigned court date, which is exactly what I did.
On my court date, when it was time for me to explain my side of the story, I asked the judge if I could use the courtroom blackboard. I then proceeded to draw a comprehensive diagram that outlined what I believed happened on the day of the ticket, highlighting the fact that the officer in question was busy in his backseat and could not have been correctly administering his radar equipment.
The judge found my explanation curious. He then turned to the issuing officer to hear his side of the story. The policeman stood up and chuckled with delight and then pleasantly explained that he was not the officer pulled to the side of the road rummaging through his back seat. In fact, he was pulled off in a clandestine spot one mile down the road pointing his radar gun at passing traffic.
The judge followed with his own chuckle and then asked me if I had anything further to add. With shoulders slunk and an immense feeling of stupidity coursing through my body, I politely replied, “Guilty as charged, your honor.”
This week’s film, “CHiPS,” follows the exploits of two California highway patrolmen as they attempt to weed out some bad blood inside their department.
Starring Dax Shepard and Michael Peña, “CHiPS” is a sophomoric romp primarily revolving around dated bathroom humor. In fact, this film would most appeal to my son and his goofy friends, all of whom find great humor with anything involving other people’s private parts.
Please don’t go into this one thinking there will be any sense of a reprisal of the original series. There’s not even a crumb of that beloved television show. Instead, the viewer is inundated with one offensive gag after another with little semblance of a viable plot to carry the story.
Skip this one unless you also have a teenager in need of a few immature laughs.
An offending “D” for “CHIPS.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.