What’s the hurry, Grandma?

Published 11:31 pm Friday, August 5, 2011

To me there was nothing funny about getting a speeding ticket.

But the “girls” behind the counter sure thought it was funny.

“You got a speeding ticket!” and another burst of laughter filled the room.

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I couldn’t help but smile. I’m not much of a leadfoot but, on occasion, I will go about 65 on the Interstate. But no one has ever called me Speedy Gonzalez.

I lamented the fact that an AARP card-carrying gal, on a 1995 sedan on a hot, hot summer afternoon on a lonely country road could be accused of breaking the sound barrier.

But that ticket kind of put me in a different class from other grandmas that ride with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake. From grandmas who are scared to get out on Highway 231 or, heaven forbid, out on the Interstate. From now on, I’ll be viewed as the Danica Patrick of the senior set.

I’m going to start wearing a nylon scarf around my neck, one that will blow in the breeze I create as I zoom down the highway. I’m going to get some of those wheel caps that keep spinning when the car’s at a dead stop. I might even have glasspacks installed and get a personal tag that reads: Eat my dust.

If I’d never gotten that speeding ticket, I would still be saddle with the degrading “old woman” kind of driving tickets that I’ve gotten in the past.  Driving too slow.

And, both of those were back in my younger days.

The first one was on a cold, snowy night when we lived in Ohio. I had a van full of little boys and we were going back home from Chuck E-Cheese. The boys were a bit rowdy, causing the van to wobble a bit. The snow was coming down like pouring feathers from a pillowcase.

In Alabama we don’t get a lot of snow so I was driving very cautiously. Then I saw the blue light in the rearview mirror. I slowed even more to let the highway patrolman get by so he could get about his business. I didn’t know his business was me.

“Lady, did you know that you were going 35 miles per hour,” he said.

“Yes, sur, ah did,” I said taking full advantage of my Southern heritage.

“Lady, the minimum speed on this Interstate is 40 miles per hour. Did you know that?”

“Naw, sur, I sho ditten.”

“You could get somebody killed!” he said unimpressed by my Southern accent. “Maybe this ticket will help you to remember.”
It did.

The next “too slow” ticket I got was back home in the South where hospitality is job one.

In the tradition of my mama, my daughter and I don’t go bed early. So, some nights — when my daughter was at the age that she liked to do things with her mama — we would ride around town at night singing, “We’re midnight girls in a sunset town.”

This one night the midnight girls were riding around town talking and laughing. We weren’t going anywhere so we weren’t in a hurry. But soon we noticed a car following us. We’d turn left and the car would turn left. We’d go right and the car would go right. We tired to shake the stalker by going down around by the cemetery. The car followed us. When we pulled back on Main Street the blue light came on.

“It’s the police!” my daughter cried.

It was a young officer who demanded my license, and I demanded to known why he had stopped me.

“You were going so slow that you aroused suspicion. You exhibited suspicious behavior.”

My next behavior was far from suspicious and exactly what one might expect from a midnight girl.

The one ticket that I didn’t get was coming from Camp Alaflo on a hot August night. I had borrowed Mama’s car because it had an air conditioner. My passengers were five little Cub Scouts and one camp counselor who had demonstrated an Indian war dance at the Pow Wow that night.

As I was trying to get the air conditioner adjusted as we left the camp night, I swerved a little in the road. The blue light pulled me over.

The officer shined the light on me — the suspected drunk driver — then on the little Cubs and then in the face of Chief Sitting Bull in the war bonnet.

“Ma’am, ah, you may go,” he said, rubbing his eyes. “Sorry to have inconvenienced you.”

Well, it’s good to have the image of a hauling-buggy grandma, but it’s a lot more interesting and fun to be just a-pokin’ along.