Ok, back to my story.  So after the fine phone call that started my Friday, I go up to the office to let the secretaries know that a representative of our city’s finest might be paying me a visit. First they think I’m joking, then they start razzing me,

“Cops comin’ for you again Coward?”

“Same same since seventh grade.”


It was 1974, and I was late for school. I hate being late. For anything. Even school, even then. I was riding my bike as usual, and in 1974, we didn’t wear helmets, let alone worry about which side of the road we were riding on, and we thought stop signs were for cars and losers.

Today, the road I was on the wrong side of is 4 lanes wide, and the light I ran controls one of the busiest intersections (the cross street is 6 lanes now) in my old hometown. Back then, it was a mere 2 lanes (plus the turn lane) I was crossing against the light.

I got across without a care, though that was probably because I didn’t look. I was looking a block ahead, and I could see them lining up outside in the parking lot (yes, the church parking lot) for the flag salute. At least I wasn’t going to be late for actual class, though the nuns would frown at my entrance. (Boy howdy, would they!) I was hoping I wouldn’t interrupt the actual pledge. I was almost to the corner, where one of our student crossing guards* vigilantly guarded…He was giving me a funny look. Hmmm. Where’s my traffic stopping, and wave across?

Then I “heard” the dreaded siren toot.  So they tell me. I might have figured that if I got within the boundaries of church property, I was safe. The old sanctuary ploy. Maybe I really didn’t hear it as I claimed at the time. Probably, it just didn’t occur to me that they might mean me. Anyway, I just kept pedaling. He tooted again (he said), and now the whole school is watching me get pulled over.

He had the red spotlight thing on, and left it on the whole time he wrote up the ticket. At least he didn’t light up the bar on top of the car.  But he really played it up for the fans on the pavement. He made an elaborate pantomime as he was lecturing me, with exaggerated pointing and finger waving. And the stink-eye I was getting from Sr. Enda! OMG!

I had to show everyone my ticket all day, which was cool. Other “consequences” weren’t so cool.  I do remember Sr. Enda, in a rare flash of compassion, cutting me slack on something I didn’t do a few days later, because she thought I was still “a bit out of sorts” because of my experience.

Tomorrow: They come to my house!

*(This was actually a coveted position back in the day at St. Mel’s. I mean, we got an actual stop sign, and got to stop traffic with it; the whole nine yards, baby.)