I tend to have bad luck getting pulled over. Most people who drive with me say things like, “Jeez, you drive really low.” Yet, I’ve been pulled over a dozen times in the past dozen months. This is partly because I drive so much, and also partly because I drive late at night when cops are suspicious of drunk driving.
When I say back luck though, I really mean bad luck. Two months ago in Tennessee I was on cruise control at 73 in a 70 (which is faster than my typical 65 in a 70 for fuel economy) and I was pulled over by a trooper who said he had me in his radar at 85 (my Garmin got me off the hook on this one, thank goodness for Carmen my Garmin).
Two weeks later I was pulled over three miles from my house for going “suspiciously slow” at 2 in the morning, and given a breathalyzer test. Not surprisingly, I passed the test, given I hadn’t been drinking, but merely driving 20 in a 25.
So this week, when I tossed a banana peel out the window on the highway, it was business as usual when I heard a siren go off. A cop car coming from the other direction, flashed his lights and made that that “bwoop bwoop” noise. First off, I never litter. Secondly, I don’t eat many bananas. I’m guessing I eat 5 or 6 bananas per annum, and most of those are not eaten in my car. On average, I probably throw a banana peel out of my car window, once…ever.
But here I am, digging around for my proof of insurance and car registration in the glove compartment, because one time in my life, I composted in public.
“Do you know why I pulled you over.”
“Welp, I’m guessing cuz I threw a banana peel out the window.”
“Do you know what the Virginia fine is for littering?”
“Sir, I just didn’t realize a banana peel was litter, because of how quickly it decomposes.”
“An object was thrown from your vehicle was it not?”
“Yes…a banana peel.”
“By Virginia state law, anything thrown from a vehicle is constituted as litter, which is a misdemeanor, blah, bla, blah, up to 12 months in jail, blah blah, blah, a fine of up to $2500, blah, blah, blah.”
I include the ‘blah blah’s” because the only words I remember were the ones involving misdemeanors, jail time, and my entire life’s savings.
Furthermore, Jail is one of my top three phobias, and I think it’s a healthy phobia to have. My other two are torture, and anything involving injury to the eyeball. So when he said “jail,” my mind raced ahead to getting tortured IN jail, with a method that involed pokes to the eye with a prison shank.
So Officer McLitter is going through the scare tactics, and they were working, because I was about to faint.
Very pathetically I said, “Sir, I just thought it would biodegrade quickly, and would be good for the environment, not bad.”
You THOUGHT it would DO good??! Tossing ANY object from your car is not only litter, but it also constitutes a danger to the vehicles around you.”
A danger to the vehicles around me? There were no vehicles around me, and…it was a banana peel. Does he think this is like Mario Cart, and the oncoming traffic is going to hit a banana and go spinning off in a serious of 360′s over a cliff and into a Sea? I wondered if I should tell him that I did not have any turtle shells or lightning bolts waiting in my bonus.
He seemed content to lecture on, “fruit remains ARE bad, because they attract insects, which attract rodents, and the rodents attract predators like hawks and owls, which will then get hit by cars, and cause roadkill incidents.”
Hmm, well now I really do feel like a prick – I had never thought that far ahead in the food chain. Who would have thought that a banana peel would kill an owl?
He ended up letting me go with a warning – probably because my beard makes me look like I love nature.
But he taught me a lesson, because I will never discard any fruit remains out of my window, 1) because I’m convinced that cops follow me everywhere I go, 2) because of my jail/torture/eye phobia, and 3) because owls are the most adorable predators in the world. The last thing I want to do is start a string of events that would result in the unfortunate death of such a huggable, imaginary creature.