So, on Friday, I was driving home from the CABS meeting. It was around 1:30 AM, and I had a sack full of White Castles (yay!), when suddenly notice there's a car behind me. Looking closer, I thought I saw the (currently dormant) siren on the top of the car, and decided that it was probably a police car.
The ride home takes me on a long stretch of 4-lane highway, that is 45 MPH near Columbus, and 55 closer to where I live. I wasn't sure what the speed limit was in the spot I was in (turns out, it was 55), so I slowed down from my about 60MPH to about 40. Then, after about a minute of this, I realize that maybe if I wanted the cop to pass me, I should get into the slow lane, and so I did.
I get passed (it was a police car), and grabbed a cheeseburger from my bag, all proud of myself for not getting caught. Go me!
That's when the second police car pulled me over. At that point, I realized that what I was doing (excessive slowdowns, delayed lane changes, a little bit of swerving as I was staring in my rearview mirror or grabbing some food) could be seen as classic "I'm a drunk driver who realizes they're drunk and don't want to get caught" behavior. Which, of course, is what they thought.
So he comes over, talks to me:
"Where are you coming from?"
"A boardgame club meeting."
"You mean like Chutes and Ladders?"
"Well, a little more complicated than that."
Which at the time I thought was typical non-gamer misunderstanding, but now I wonder if it was calculated to get me on some kind of drunken "You don't know what real games are!" rant. I think that they have pretty good algorithms for determining drunken behavior..
Anyway, after being satisfied I wasn't drunk, just stupid, they let me go. The whole time, they were cheery and friendly, and so was I. And as I made it the rest of the way home, it occurred to me that maybe I have the right attitude about this whole thing finally.
When I was in college, right after I got pulled over, I would have been filled with inept outrage, and thoughts like "I pay this guys salary!" and "Don't you have better things to do than to fill your quotas going after me?", and I would've gotten them mad at me and gotten a ticket for something stupid.
When I was in Grad School, I would've thought that I was smarter than they are, and used my fantastic skills of rhetoric to try to convince them that I wasn't doing anything wrong. Since cops hate a smartass, they would've gotten mad at me and given me a ticket for something stupid.
(I still think those things, by the way. The only difference is now I have more context. They are doing something more important than harassing me- going after drunk drivers. I may be smarter than them, but people don't like to admit they're wrong, and I can't imagine any policeman, anywhere, ever, saying "Wow! What a well-reasoned argument! I'll never give another traffic ticket again!". Besides, the procedures that they follow are usually smarter than I am regardless)
Anyway, it helped this time that the guy was nice and cheery and friendly, but I think it helped that I was too. I'm finding that when you get pulled over, the best policy is honesty. Even "Yes, I was speeding a little there- you got me". Sure, sometimes you get Officer Crankypants, and it won't help. But Officer Crankypants is giving you a ticket anyway, and you don't want to make things worse.