A Poorly Timed Turn of Events

I had an interesting experience at lunch yesterday that I had to jot down. I was en route to meet a friend for lunch, when another called and was interested in going as well and riding with me. I had just made a left hand turn into traffic, and to pick up the phoning friend required a U-turn. I happened to be approaching the light, where the left hand turn lanes opened to the left, so I moved to the left and turned on my signal. Upon seeing the green lights above the intersection, I started to make the left hand turn. Directly into head-on traffic, coming at me in multiple lanes from the other side.

I have to cop to it being my own fault. I wasn’t paying complete attention to what I was doing. It was a stupid move.

The intersection was one at which there was no U-turn allowed. So how did their happen to be a left hand turn lane? Well, it’s one that is intended to lead into the next intersection, which is a freeway onramp and tends to get backed up. So the lane I had moved into was not one for turning at THAT light, but at the next one. The green lights above the intersection included an arror over mine, but not one pointing to the left… one pointing straight ahead, as in…. keep going, you idiot.

Like I said, my bad.

Of course I realized the error immediately. It’s hard not to when you’re 1/3 of the way into a turn and you realize that the oncoming traffic’s not yielding, and cars behind you are driving around you and onto the intended turning spot. And at that point, there was absolutely nothing I could to do ‘back up’ or correct the error. I had to see it through and wait until the oncoming traffic subsided and I could proceed.

The only thing that would have made me feel like a bigger idiot and further heightened my stress at the moment would have to have looked to the left and seen a sheriff’s car sitting at the freeway off ramp, watching me the entire time.

And of course, just my luck, there sat a sherif’s car at the off ramp, watching me the entire time. And of course, I immediately felt like a bigger idiot.

I gestured to him as the traffic had passed and I completed the turn, to indicate that yes, I saw him, I know he saw me, and I know I just screwed up big time. And as you’d expect, mid-way into completing the turn, his lights turned on, siren as well, and he started pulling me over.

There was nothing I could do… I made the mistake and there was no undoing that. I did hope that he’d at least hear me out on the fact that this was a momentary lapse of reason and a rare but sincere mistake that I tried me best to appropriately and safely address. But the guy pulled up along side me, even as I was making an effort to pull into the corner gas station and discuss it with him, and oh man, was he pissed off! His face was red with anger and he was violently gesturing for me to pull over…. uh, which I was trying to do. In fact, his having pulled along side and trying to get my attention actually prevented me from being able to turn into the gas station as I had intended, because it required my missing the turn while trying to figure out what he was doing along side of me instead of following me.

I pulled into the next entrance and parked, and he came storming up to my car, practically screaming at me, “What the hell are you doing”?!?! I was surprised that he was reacting as angrily as he was. This was not a smart move, but not a completely insane and unbelievable occurrence. I’d expect that type of shocked and incredulous reaction to, oh, driving the wrong way on an off ramp or driving backwards a full block or two in heavy traffic…. but a left turn at a no left turn intersection is not worthy of such a visceral response.

I made it immediately clear that I knew I’d made a mistake, that i realized it immediately and that I felt there was no option other than to wait until it was safe to complete the turn. But he was still furious.

He said there was an armed robbery he was en route to and that he didn’t have time to deal with this occurrence, so it was my lucky day. But he was still shouting, and flushed, and he turned and returned to his car.

I figured I’d been given a bit of a reprieve. I expected I’d get a ticket, I could not have argued that I didn’t make the mistake, although I might have considered going to court to at least explain the events and try and knock down any fine or black marks on my driving record.

As I buckled up and turned on the engine, a motorcycle cop turned into the station, and as I drove away I could here the cop that had pulled me over relating my actions to the other cop in complete frustration and anger. I almost thought I should wait and make sure we really were done and there was not going to be a change of heart or passing off of the citation issuance to the other guy, but I also figured that the exchange had been completed and I believed I was free to go.

So as I exited the gas station in order to go get the friend who was waiting for me, the sudden presence of flashing lights and siren from the motorcycle cop, now in my rear view mirror, indicated that, no, we were not done by a long shot. I immediately pulled into the first spot I could, turned off my engine and I knew exactly what to expect.

The motorcycle cop came up and said “My partner just told me about what happened”.

“Yes”, I explained, and again, gave a very brief but sincere summation of having made a big mistake, recognizing the need to cautiously exit the dangerous situation, and having done so but knowing I screwed up.

“Well, he’s asked me to write up a citation for you. I’ll need your drivers license and registration”.

I said OK, and as he walked back to his cycle and got on the radio, I pulled out both, and got back into the “my bad, my mess, nothing I can do about it now” mental state of mind.

The bike cop returned and as I extended my hand with the aforementioned documents, he gestured with a a hand and said “Hang on”.

“My partner said he was pretty pissed off and said some harsh things.”

“Yeah” I replied…., “He said a few”.

“Well, he said he should not have done so. We’re not going to give you a citation today. But you need to be careful”.

I agreed with him, thanking him for the break as he walked away. I turned around, continued back to pick up my passenger, and as I explained the turn of events from the last 5 minutes, we drove past that same spot, where the motorcycle cop and another were positioned, exactly at the turning point I’d made, almost as if they either expected me to do so again, or wanted to dissuade anybody else from trying to do the same.

I gestured with a wave as we passed by. It wasn’t returned, but I was just grateful to have avoided getting a ticket twice in such a short span of time.


Written by gsm

03/29/2007 at 10:06 pm

Posted in  Miscellaneous 

3 Responses

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  1. Wow – talk about feeling guilty for causing such a bad “turn of events”! I’m very happy everything worked out as well as they did, my friend – but am still sorry that you had to go through such a stressful and frustrating experience on my behalf.

    Mea culpa – me paenitet, amice…


    03/29/2007 at 11:52 pm

  2. Yeah well as I’ve said, you’re calling might have thrown off my plans but my lack of attention is not your fault. Of course, had I been issued a ticket, I’d be singing a different tune and looking for you to pony up a percentage…. but it yesterday’s case the complimentary beverage at lunch sufficed.


    03/30/2007 at 7:17 am

  3. So the first cop says he’s on his way to an armed robbery, but then sticks around to explain things to the second cop? I’m betting they didn’t catch the robber.

    I figured this had a reasonably happy ending, since I didn’t see a PayPal link to help pay for the ticket.

    Glad you’re safe. I’ll still ride with you.


    03/30/2007 at 10:26 am

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