Monday, February 2, 2009

Stopping the special people

In my work area, it's a fact of life that you will eventually stop someone famous or powerful for a traffic infraction. Some will be very nice, while others will be total tools. As an example of the former, I will always remember stopping Tony Nicely, CEO and President of GEICO Insurance.

It was a little before 11PM if I recall, and I was just pulling out of my station's driveway in a marked cruiser when this car shot by like a rocket, well in excess of the limit.

"Oh no he didn't..." I think to myself. I mean, my boss is still in his office. How are you going to fly past our building with my boss possibly looking out his window and me sitting right there in the driveway? I punched the gas and threw gravel as I fish-tailed onto highway after him. I quickly caught up with the car--a high-end sedan--and it was still zipping along. I got a quick pace on the vehicle at 23mph over the limit, then hit my radar and confirmed it. I was going to have this guy for sure. I hit the lights and pulled him over on the side of the road. "Dispatch, hold me out northbound with traffic, vanity tag "GEICO 1".

When I got the return--car registered to GEICO Insurance--I had to smile at the irony. I exited my vehicle and approached the driver.

The driver was a distinguished-looking older gentleman in formal attire, and he had a woman next to him who was also dressed up for a party. I was already thinking that I might get the night's first DUI right here. People who go to parties usually drink. So I started out by introducing myself and telling the man why I'd stopped him. He was immediately apologetic and deferential, and quickly handed me his license. He could not, however, find the car's paperwork, and he apologized for that. He also said that he and his wife had been talking about the dinner they'd just left and he hadn't been paying attention to his speed. He also hadn't seen me sitting there as he passed. As we spoke, I checked his eyes and saw none of the tell-tale signs of alcohol, and I didn't smell any, either. So since he mentioned a dinner, I pressed for a bit more information, just to keep him talking and to check his general attitude. "Where was this dinner at, Sir?"
He told me that the dinner was at a local hotel and that his company had hosted it for the family members of their employees who'd been called up for military service.

Well damn. That, if true, was just nice. I'm nothing if not supportive of our troops myself, and how many companies would do something like that for their employees? And I believed him. Generally most of us know when someone's lying to us by the way that they act, and this fellow seemed sincere. Plus, that story wasn't the sort that people just make up out of thin air when asked. And then his wife even held up a program and asked me if I wanted to see it.

Aw, hell... now I'm not so inclined to even write the speeding ticket.

"Not a problem as far as the registration goes," I told him. "I already know that it's good. As for your insurance...well I'm going to guess that you either work for GEICO or you really like their policies."

He smiled, and told me that he was, in fact, the CEO of the company.

"Wow," I replied. "A speeding ticket for 23 over would sure blow a big hole in that safe driver discount program that your company offers, wouldn't it?"

"Yes," he replied, smiling resignedly. "I'm sure that it's going to."

And that clinched it for me. He didn't even ask me to cut him a break like most people do.

I handed him his license back and told him to pay a little more attention to his speed and his surroundings. I then shined my light quickly around the inside of his car. "You don't have that little lizard in here, do you?"

They both laughed, and he told me that it was a gecko, not a lizard, but that tonight was the gecko's night off. Then he thanked me and wished me a nice night as he drove off.

"Now that guy has class," I thought as I walked back to my cruiser. So many of those folks get so hung up on telling me who they are and how important they are--often followed by dropping names of other people that they think might keep me from writing them a ticket, but this guy didn't try any of that. He was honest and respectful, acknowledged his error, and appeared ready to accept the ticket without any argument whatsoever. Those people are rare and they seldom get tickets from me, even if they aren't the CEO of a big insurance company.


Anonymous said...

too bad more people aren't like that.

RoaVaPD said...

I have yet to find a name-dropper with the clout to do anything but pay the fine for the tickets I write them.

It's nice to run into someone with class once in a while.

The Bus Driver said...

To me, honesty is the best policy... its how i've gotten out of getting 3 speeding tickets... :)

Officer "Smith" said...

A class act.

Both him and you.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful class act! Both of you!

Geico often calls to check to see if we have their customer's vehicle's impounded! I ask if I can speak to the geico or how he's doing - Without a step missed they start talking to me about him like he's a really cool dude and just stepped out of his sweet corner office! Hahaha.. What a great bunch of employee's there!

Brett said...

Love your blog! I'm not in law enforcement, but it's very entertaining to hear what you go through, and you should know that it is appreciated.

Talking about respect to officers, when I was in HS in the 80's, I was active in theatre. After opening night, we had a cast party (lots of fun, but no drinking), and I was on my way home at 2:00 in the morning with a couple of young ladies also in the cast.

Well, I'm driving down a country road, and get lit up by a sheriff. He walks up to the car and shines his light in.

I should mention, the car is filled with costumes and props, and since it is a large Chevy, both girls are on the large front seat with me, the middle girl holding a bust of a Roman soldier we used in the play.

The sheriff shines his light on me, the middle girl, the bust in her lap, the far girl, back to the bust (as if he can't quite believe it), and then back to me.

"Do you have any idea how fast you were going?" It's 2:00 am, I'm tired, so I just reply "No sir, I sure don't."

He seems a bit surprised at my response, but goes back to his cruiser. I assume he ran my license (clean) and then came back.

Walks up, doesn't even shine the light on me, just shines it on the bust of the Roman soldier, and says "You can go, just slow down."

To this day, I credit being polite, and having that statue with saving me a ticket.