Cholong and I had just spent the better part of the afternoon at cold, windy Alligator Point. Coming back into town on 319, heading north approaching Capital Circle, I move to pass a car on the right. He’s doing about 43 in the fast lane, and the speed limit is 45. I see the bank of plastic boxes in the back window and instantly realize it’s an unmarked patrol car. So I tap the brake and back it down to about 49, and begin passing him very slowly. The glow on his face from the in-car console confirms my suspicions. I continue to pass him. He pulls in behind me and starts creeping up on me, then almost immediately backs off. I’m doing 50. I can’t decide if he wants to pass me, or if he’s playing on the console, or what. I need to be in the left lane anyway, so I signal and move.
He moves in behind me and on go the blue lights.
Sonofabitch, what did I do? I wasn’t speeding enough to be pulled over. And if that’s his reason, that’s gotta be the most stupid unfair thing I’ve ever heard. 50 in a 45, please.
I pull into the Citgo station, kill the fuel, kill the iPod, roll down the windows. (The thought briefly crosses my mind that even if I wanted to flash him to get out of this, I couldn’t, as I’m wearing a sweater over a t-shirt.) He walks over. Says he’s with the highway patrol, and did I know my tag light is out? No, sir, I had absolutely no idea! (How the fuck would I know that?) He tells me it’s something a lot of people overlook but nevertheless it needs to be fixed. Yes, sir. I give him license/insurance/registration, he goes back to the patrol car.
I crack up. Really? A tag light? Like, the little light that shines on my license plate? Not even a stupid brake light? Holy shit. This guy is getting a running start on making his January quotas.
He returns and I put my serious face back on. He hands me my license and a folded sheet of paper, saying he’s not giving me a ticket or citation but a thing telling me it needs to be fixed (as if pulling me over and giving me an adrenaline jolt weren’t enough). He sends me on my way. He leaves the station before I do, because I’m still laughing.
On the way home, I notice that approximately every 5th car’s tag light is out. Wonder if he pulled them over, too.