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It’s All About Who You Used To Babysit

, , , , , | Legal | August 1, 2022

When I am fourteen and my sister is ten, our family has a very busy day scheduled. We start at my sister’s soccer tournament, then we go to my orchestra competition, and we leave from there to go to our family reunion, hosted at my grandfather’s house. My grandfather is a former Chief Of Police.

As we are en route to the reunion, everyone is starting to get cranky, including our parents. Mom and Dad start arguing over who was supposed to bring the food for the potluck, as it has been forgotten. Dad, irritated, begins to speed by quite a bit.

When we get pulled over, he is going seventy-five mph in an active construction zone that is also a school zone. That school must be hosting a sporting event, as the light is on. The inside of the car feels like it’s humming with tension as we await the officer with the window down.

Officer: “Sir, do you know how fast you were going?”

Dad: “I’m afraid I wasn’t looking.”

At this point, Mom starts to bend over from the passenger’s seat to better see the officer.

Officer: “Well, I clocked you going a bit north of seventy, and that’s—”

Mom: “Wait, is that [First Name]? [First Name] [Surname]?”

Officer: “Um, yes, ma’am, that’s me.”

Mom: “It’s [Mom] [Maiden Name]! [Dad], girls, this is who I used to babysit! The kid who’d always tattle to my daddy if I tried to sneak out! Boy, Daddy always said you’d make a great cop. Guess you went and did it, huh? How’re [Family Members]?”

The officer goes to the other side of the car to talk to my mom. She was his babysitter every day after school and all day during breaks for six years when she was in high school and college, and his brother and my aunt dated seriously for quite some time. As they seem to be running out of small-town gossip to catch up on, my mom continues.

Mom: “Oh, and I can tell my momma and daddy you said hi if you want. Heck, I could stop off at your parents’ place across the street, since they’re still there! See if your mom won’t still make a batch of snickerdoodles, since my doofus husband here left the potato salad at home.”

Officer: “Oh, is this the big [Family Surname] reunion? Too bad I’m on the evening shift and can’t stop by. I better let y’all get going, though. Wouldn’t want to make old Chief [Grandfather] upset!”

He gets back in his patrol car and leaves. He never even took my dad’s license and registration from him.

After we have driven — at the speed limit — in very subdued but tense silence for about five minutes, Mom finally speaks in a low, somewhat strangled voice.

Mom: “If he’d ticketed you to the full extent, in [City]? You’d have your license suspended. And probably about five grand owed. Don’t do that again.”

It has been twenty years, and I have not seen my dad speed once since that evening.

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