Wrong Turn. No, not the American slasher movie series but it might as well have been after something I allegedly did when a police officer stopped me at precisely 00:19 hours on Saturday, March 25.
About 0800 hours, the following Saturday, April 1, I was in bed when my wife walked up to ask: "Are you up?"
Before I could reply in a half state of slumber, she carried on: "It's no April Fool's joke."
She handed me an "alleged infringement offence" which stated I had allegedly failed to stop at the stop sign at the junction of Lyndon Rd East, turning left into Railway Rd before pulling up at the crossroads of a traffic lights to turn right into Southampton St West, in Hastings, according to the officer.
"What?" I responded, definitely snapping out of la-la land.
I dispute the allegation, as I did when he confronted me, demanding to see my driving licence, and I have emailed outlining what I perceive to be irregularities to email@example.com
The officer, who was still coming from the opposite Railway Rd end of the crossroads towards the lights as I approached it, had waited until the traffic lights turned green and I had turned my car into Southampton St West when he pulled me over with flashing red/blue lights.
Did the officer go through a red light himself to stop me instantaneously on the no-stopping yellow lines (two offences in 10 seconds)?
The lights do not flick green from the Railway Rd end that quickly, never mind stopping on the yellow lines to pull me over on it as well.
Nevertheless, I have requested the officer furnish evidence on how he came to the conclusion that I didn't stop at the Lyndon Rd stop sign.
The officer: "Can I see your driving licence?"
"No problems," I replied, thinking it's a routine check.
As I fished for my wallet from my work bag and started pulling out my licence, the officer remarked: "Did you know you didn't stop at the Lyndon Rd stop sign?"
I responded: "Really? As far as I know I stopped, looked to the right to see if anyone was coming and then proceeded."
The officer cynically: "What? At 20km/h?"
I realised it was pointless arguing on deserted roads after midnight with anyone, let alone a sceptical officer, and didn't say anything.
He used his flashlight/torch to look at the licence before walking around to the bonnet of the car to check out the expiry dates on the company fleet lease vehicle.
"Everything looks all right with the car," he acknowledged.
Walking back to the driver's side of the window and pulling out what appeared to be a school-type notebook, he said: "Oh, you realise you don't have your home address on your licence?"
I have never had a driving licence with home addresses on them but I could hear the slasher-movie genre music in the background so I furnished him with the details anyway.
He scribbled something on the tired looking notebook before handing back my licence to say: "My only advice to you is to stop at a stop sign next time."
I drove off not thinking anything of it on the proviso that if he was pinging me then he would have issued me with an infringement notice on the spot and I would have howled in protest.
I don't mind making a $150 contribution to the traffic department's Christmas funds because, overall, I believe they are there for a purpose.
But 20 demerit points is like rubbing salt in the wound, especially when you haven't done something the officer alleged you did.
To suggest I turned at 20km/h (how does he pull that figure out of the hat?), without stopping, means I would have come over the railway lines at a decent speed. That would have meant my car would have been airborne, as it does on a judder bar at swift speed (as seen in films), and flipped. If all that happened that morning then I must have fallen asleep behind the wheel (definitely an offence).
It boggles the mind how the officer drew any conclusions at a dimly-lit junction where the foliage of an unkempt tree drops like dreadlocks?
It's a junction I have driven through for almost two decades on a daily basis after stopping.
My bafflement aside (It never ceases to amaze me how many drivers, in full view of the public, get away with cellphone texting/talking, don't indicate, don't wear seatbelts, exceed speed limits or don't switch on lights at dawn/dusk or in fog/rain), I detest the stain on my near-impeccable driving record.
My only offence, more than a decade ago in a back road of Raukawa, was for speeding by about 7km/h over the limit. I have never had demerit points.
I had fully accepted that I was rushing from a prolonged interview as a journalist to collect my then 6-year-old daughter from Raureka School, otherwise she would have been left stranded on the roadside.
If I found myself in that position again I would have taken the same risk for the sake of my child because her welfare is paramount, given how vulnerable children are.
Wrong Turn 7 (the sequel)?
Watch out. It could be coming to a mailbox near you, too.
*Anendra Singh is sports editor at Hawke's Bay Today.
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