Mrs. Linklater's memoir continues with her driving record, which has all the excitement of parallel parking.
I got my first ticket at 24, for
driving 43 MPH in a 25 MPH zone. Ho-hum. Having a 1965 Mustang I received
for graduation from college was probably the reason for it. That little
car was quick. A little too quick sometimes. I never got stopped
on the highways, but barreling through a quiet neighborhood, complete
with a Dukes of Hazzard moment, which lifted all four wheels off the
road as I crested a small hill, no doubt caught the attention of the
police officer who was cruising behind me.
Instead of just paying the ticket I
decided to go to traffic court in my town. In those days you went to
the village where the infraction took place. Nowadays traffic
court takes place in a larger, centralized venue with bunches of
smaller courtrooms instead of one big one.
But my first appearance before a
judge was in a courtroom with a ceiling two stories high, right out of a Jimmy Stewart
movie. The judge was sitting at a nosebleed height. There were at
least two hundred people in the room. This was going to be a long haul.
I watched as one sixteen-year-old boy
after another went before the judge to defend himself for his second or
third speeding ticket. When my turn came the judge almost seemed
relieved to discover that young people could drive eight years before
getting their first ticket. He gave me supervision, which ultimately
kept me from getting a speeding ticket on my record.
Of course, when it came to good
driving records I couldn't touch my mother's, which was blemish free. Not
only that, but she had a chauffeur's license -- not standard issue for
suburban moms in the fifties.
When I was four or five, my
resourceful mother started a business driving kids to school. She
converted a 1947 Mercury Woody station wagon to a kidmobile so that it
had benches around the perimeter of the back for little tykes to
She started the business to make
extra money while my dad was still making no money as a medical
resident. She was a registered nurse, but driving was the only way she
could take care of us kids while she worked We went on all
her pick up runs. "Fingers, hands on chest," was her mantra every
time she opened a door or closed it. I think that came about because I
stuck my fingers in the door just as she closed it one time. I was like
Later, as I got closer to driving age,
I became convinced she kept her chauffeur's license long after she
needed it, just to show me the high standards of driving she expected
Except for a four year period when
I couldn't seem to back out of a driveway or a parking lot space without
hitting another car, my contacts with other vehicles driving forward have been pretty
much limited to one or two other occasions.
I hit the bumper of a white car in
front of me hard enough to leave the black imprint of my bumper on
hers. The damage amounted to something that could be rubbed off with
some elbow grease. Unfortunately the driver's husband, who hadn't been there,
claimed that I hit her so hard that there was irreparable destruction
to some gismo in the front end. Luckily I had taken pictures at the
scene to show the insurance company how little damage there was. Soon that complaint went away.
A couple of years ago,I lost my mind and tried to
turn right in front of a stopped bus, forgetting that it's ILLEGAL to
do that. The bus started up and clipped my bumper. No damage, but he
had to write a report. This meant the whole bus had to be emptied and
another one called to come pick up the passengers, each of whom gave me a dirty look as they trudged off.
The bus driver's superviser had to
come to make a report too. He tookdown all my insurance information,
driver's license info,
etc., etc. We all agreed that everything was my fault. Then the police
showed up. Two of the biggest, baddest, baldest Chicago
police officers I have ever seen came swaggering over to my car, as I
sat looking up at them seated on the passenger side with the door open.
One of the officers talked to the
bus driver, then turned to me and started shouting in my face, "Shame
on you! Shame on YOU! Trying to drive around the bus, that's
illegal, what were you thinking . . ." He went into a wild tirade at me.
I just stared at him because even though I knew it was my fault, I sure
didn't like him yelling at me up close and personal. Suddenly he stopped his rant and I
didn't say anything. I just glared at him with fire in my eyes. By now both
cops were standing over me like two huge sumo wrestlers in uniform.
Then I saw the look on the bus
driver's face. "Just say you're sorry, lady," was written all over it.
He was staring at me like I'd better do something quick. So I said,
"Yes, officer, we have agreed that this was all my fault. I'm very
sorry." There was another beat, like the cop was trying to decide
whether it was worth his time to write me a ticket, because I was up to
my neck in insubordination, not to mention utter disrespect.
He looked at me hard, then turned to the bus driver. I had the feeling
he didn't want to bother with the ticket, but I had pushed him to the edge.
"Any damage?" he asked. "No." At this point he could let it go and seem
like a good guy. So I didn't get the ticket I richly deserved.
After the police drove off,
the bus driver was incredulous. "You almost got yourself a nasty
ticket. What were you thinking?" I was thinking the bus driver
Actually, I just needed time to get my anger at the police officer's IN
YOUR FACE scolding under control. It almost took me too much time, that's
all. So I just agreed with the bus driver and went on my way.
END OF CHAPTER FIVE