Saturday morning I was headed to the Farmers' Market to donate my time, energy and Saturday morning. I turned out of our little neighborhood, and was turning onto the main strip on the island. Their was a cop at the stop sign, and I thought to myself, "how nice that he is patrolling the crosswalk, because no one seems to stop for pedestrians."
I took my left-hand turn and continued on. Several seconds, maybe a minute, later I noticed the police officer was behind me with his blue lights flashing. Um, Me? I definitely wasn't speeding so I thought maybe he wanted to get past me. I looked for a place to pull over, but the strip has grass on one side that leads to the water and the houses on the left. I didn't want to ruin any grass (my association fees pay that) so I continued on to the next street intersection.
At this point, I realized he was actually after me because he put his sirens on. Um, what? So, I pulled off on the first available street. I was quite frazzled because even though I knew I wasn't speeding, I couldn't imagine what he wanted with me. I actually hit the curb as I pulled over, and then feared he would site me as drunk at 9:55 am.
He got out of his car. "Ma'am, have you never been pulled over before?"
Well, I really hadn't except the time in high school when I was leaving the senior breakfast, and a police office pulled me over because I had writing on the back of my windshield.
"Well, no, officer," I said. "I haven't been pulled over before. Could you tell?"
"Yeah I can tell. Usually, you just need to pull off to the side of the road."
In an effort not to cause a fight about how I pay for the upkeep of the grass in this neighborhood, I just apologized again, and said how I had not been pulled over before.
"Do you know you're driving on expired tags?"
Oh crap. I have moved three times in the past six or eight months, and I realized that it was entirely possible I was driving on expired tags. How did I expect Arkansas to find me in Tennessee? It was on my list of grown-up things to do, but I really hadn't thought to double check it.
"Oh, really?!?" I said, in my lime green farmers' market volunteer t-shirt. "I just moved here."
About that time, another police officer pulled in, because apparently it takes two Memphis police officers to pull over a petite white girl in a Volvo for expired tags at 10 in the morning.
This second police officer was a woman, and began talking to the first police officer about the "detail" she was on the previous night. Ummmm, I am usually a huge Law & Order fan, but at this point I was way late for the farmers' market, and not sure what was to become of me.
After a while of the girl cop telling the first-man-on-the-scene guy cop about her detail job, he sauntered back to my car. "The good thing is this ticket isn't going to cost you anything," he says.
"oh wonderful!" I say.
"The bad things is that it's a mandatory court appearance for December 9th."
Ummmmmm, what? I have to go to court? My law-abiding, never-had-a-traffic-ticket or broken the law in anyway person?
"Ok, " I say. "Where can I go to get new tags?"
At this point, the guy and girl cop have a conversation, really without me, where they discuss which offices have license plate services, which have inspection services (which is required in TN) and which are closest to downtown.
After another 10 minutes of this conversation, I politely tell them that I, being the new person in town, will just mapquest it, and I thanked them for their time.
So yes. I have a date in court. With a judge. The guy police officer told me that if I get my new tags before December 9th, and then appear in court, the judge will throw the case out. So why you ask do I still have to go to court on that date? Because there may be a little too much red tape in this country. I mean, come on!
Status report as of Monday: I have purchased and received my new TN license plate and tags. I will continue to wait until Dec. 9th until I can tell a judge this. Maybe I'll call the court house just to ask if anyone can assuage this injustice. I doubt it.