I used pinwheels and a pair of LA Lights sneakers to fashion a crude light bar in my four-cylinder pickup and parked just out of sight along the busy street outside the newsroom.
My first customer of the day was a gentleman of about 50 driving a white Subaru wagon. I didn’t have a radar gun, but I could tell he was speeding. “Eyeballing it” is the proper term. After pulling up behind him, I activated my lights then stuck my head out of the driver’s side window and made siren noises.
He pulled over. Oh my god! He actually pulled over!
I exited my truck, put on my mirrored aviator sunglasses and approached the Subaru. It was the first traffic stop of my new career. The adrenaline began to well up inside me. It was exciting and terrifying all at once. My teeth chattered ever so slightly. I walked up to his window and tapped on it until he rolled down his window.
“Can I help you?” he asked, his left eyebrow cocked a little too high for my liking.
“Sir,” I began, trying to speak with authority but remain approachable. “Do you know why I stopped you?”
He looked confused for a beat.
“You’re not a police officer.”
“Well, not exactly, sir,” I replied. “I’m a hybrid police officer and journalist.”
“What the hell is that?”
“I was confused myself,” I said. “It turns out that our local police have launched an app that allows them to report the news directly to the citizens. I assumed that if they are becoming journalists, I can become a police officer.”
“Oh my god. They didn’t actually do that? Hubris is what I’d call that.”
“I’m afraid so, sir. I’m going to need to see your license, registration and proof of insurance. I’m pretty sure you were speeding.”
“But you’re not a cop.”
“I had the same thought, sir, but I figure since the police think they can do my job, their job can’t be all that hard. So here I am. To be totally honest, my editor is super pissed because I owe her three stories and I’ve been out here most of the morning.”
“You don’t even have a gun.”
“That is true, sir. I have a strict no-gun policy. I have a really bad temper, and I’m prone to fits of depression. So no guns for me. Really, it’s better for the drywall in my apartment.”
“And your badge is just tinfoil you shaped into a crude star. Is that a Nestle Crunch wrapper?”
“Well, it’s my first try at a badge. Crafts have never been my forte.”
“Look, I can see you are having a bit of fun and I appreciate how frustrating it must be to constantly have everyone act like journalism is remedial work for second-graders, but I think you should go finish your stories. I’ve got to go now.”
“I’m going to let you go with a warning today, sir. But remember, the speed limit is there for your safety. And it’s the law.”