It almost seems like a rite of passage. Maybe just in New England, but it could literally be anywhere across the country that deals with the changing seasons like we do -- whenever the weather is glorious (and it has been for a good chunk of Summer 2022), New Englanders tend to get lead feet and put the pedal to the metal.
And that was 100% me over the weekend because as I was driving down the Maine Turnpike in the Wells area with my driver side and passenger side windows down and the radio blasting, I noticed a Maine State Trooper in the center median. Like we all do, I looked down and checked my speed -- mid-70s, sweet deal. I went about my merry way but peeped the rear view mirror real quick to see if the cruiser may make movement -- and it did. Complete U-Turn onto my side of the Turnpike.
I didn't think anything of it since I was going mid-70s still and not weaving in and out of traffic. But fast forward about 30 seconds and there was the cruise, signaling into the middle lane right behind me and getting decently close to the tailgate of my truck. So, I knew what was happening -- I just didn't know why.
I was still confused during the minute or so (that felt like a solid five hours) waiting for the trooper to approach me. This is always the most awkward part of getting pulled over -- do I get my license and registration ready ahead of time? Do I sit super still and not make any sudden movements so the trooper doesn't fear for his/her safety? I went with Option B as I kept glancing every few seconds into my rear view mirror, then braced for a rough encounter as soon as I saw the trooper reach onto the dash for his trooper hat.
There's just something so intimidating about those hats, you know? Like you have to prep yourself to be screamed at and spit on by a drill sergeant as soon as you see a trooper rocking one of those hats. Or hope that you're in decent cardio shape since you expect to be told to drop and give him/her 20. But I digress. I expected the worse as he approached my passenger side window.
"State Trooper Cote, can I see your license and registration please?"
As I reached into my pocket to get my wallet, still genuinely confused as to why I got pulled over, I asked him if I could ask him why he pulled me over.
"Sure, I got you going 81 miles per hour. The limit on this stretch of the Turnpike is 70."
Still a bit puzzled and reaching over to my glove box for my registration (and completely forgetting to announce what I was reaching for to Trooper Cote, again, trying to ensure his safety that I wouldn't turn this into a situation that would make the CBS 13 news), I mentioned that I saw I was going mid-70s as I was approaching him, but also mentioned that it made sense since I wasn't on cruise control so my speed honestly could have been fluctuating.
And that's when I wanted to slap myself across the face. Because I meant it to come off as leveling with what Trooper Cote was telling me, as opposed to being argumentative like I was worried it accidentally came off. Thankfully, he knew where I was coming from.
"So to that point, I actually caught you on laser which allows me to clock a speed from a far distance. So just because you didn't happen to see me when you checked your speed, doesn't mean I didn't already have it."
The thing that I noticed the most as I handed over my license and registration to him -- the tone in which he gave me that information. It wasn't matter of fact. It wasn't a superior tone that could come off as talking down to someone. It was so...conversational. Like you'd explain something to a buddy.
I'm not going to sit here and say this was my first time being pulled over in 40 billion years -- I actually got pulled over last summer in New Hampshire. So, I had a pretty strong feeling that I was going to get a ticket, and Trooper Cote confirmed it as he re-approached my window and reached presented an envelope.
"Unfortunately, I do have to give you a citation today. Everything you need and all of the instructions are inside this envelope, along with your license and registration. Just do me a favor -- be super careful pulling out of here and getting back onto the Turnpike, ok?"
He was just SO nice that I nodded and thanked him as he handed me my ticket. That's not a misprint -- I THANKED Trooper Cote for giving me a ticket. And that's when he dropped one more sentence on me before he walked away that I've still been analyzing to this very second as I type it.
"And hey. Hang in there, okay?"
Did he want me to hang in there after watching someone about the size of a leprechaun struggle to reach over to his glove box for his registration with his wee-little arms that are reminiscent of a T-Rex's?
That's the one thing I can't figure out from all of this -- why would he tell me to hang in there? Was it simply the fact that no one likes getting pulled over and having to pay a ticket? Was it the fact that I probably looked like an unwashed hobo considering my hair had been blowing in the cross-breeze while driving down the Turnpike with my driver and passenger windows open? Did he want me to hang in there after watching someone about the size of a leprechaun struggle to reach over to his glove box for his registration with his wee-little arms that are reminiscent of a T-Rex's? Or did my face just reek of "This week has already owned my soul" the entire time?
Regardless, in what is clearly never a fun situation, thanks for being a solid human, Trooper Cote. And for the reminder that like on the Turnpike, sometimes in life, you need to remember to slow down.