Thursday, May 9, 2013


At the point where Winch Street crosses Grove Street at a sharp-ish angle, a Framingham police cruiser lay in wait. It was in plain sight. Justin and Nathan, about twelve years old, may have been making more of a distracting uproar in the back seat than usual. However that may be, I saw the cruiser in plenty of time to come to a full, legal stop but failed to do so. I mentally noted that I had better be sure to come to a proper halt, and then did my routine rolling not-quite-stop through the stop sign anyway. The connection between consciousness and
action is much less clear than we assume.

The officer pulled us over on Winch Street, across Grove Street from the point of ambush. Justin and Nathan were in the back seat with Justin's computer game hard- and software (whatever it may have consisted of at that time) and a television set belonging to Nathan. Why all that was going to school would require a distracting level of explanation; but such was the case.

The officer quickly determined that worse iniquity was afoot than running a stop sign. He pointed out that my driver's license had expired, issued me a couple of citations, and made it clear that I was not to think of driving another foot until I provided myself with a valid license. At that, I was lucky. An elderly minister of my acquaintance was arrested for driving on an expired license. Either this officer was being nice, or thereare complications attendant upon arresting someone in charge of a couple of kids.

We locked the car and hiked down Winch Street towards the school, a distance of what looks on the map like about a quarter of a mile. Nathan carried the hardware and software and Justin the television, which Nathan claimed was too heavy for him. On this inconveniently warm day, I wasn't looking forward to walking to my office and then to the Registry, a total of some miles; but I blessed my lucky stars that there is a Registry in Framingham, and on the Sudbury rather than the Natick end.

The officer had driven off down Winch Street but must have circled around, because he came up behind us -- likely enough to make sure we were, in fact, not driving the car. Taking pity, I suppose, on this hot, fat, frazzled lady and the two burdened kids, he offered us a ride to the school. Too relieved to think farther than the moment, we accepted.

He pulled in, not just into the parking lot, but right up to the front door, which you're not supposed to do except on very particular business. I remember the usual crowd of people on the porch as larger than usual, but I could be wrong about that. I'm sure Justin and Nathan thought nothing could be cooler than arriving at school in a police cruiser. I did not share this perception. As soon as the wheels of the cruiser stopped turning, maybe a little before, I prepared to jump out and flee.

You can't do that, of course. The back doors of a police cruiser don't open from the inside. The few seconds before the officer opened them was an eternity to me. I thanked the officer again for the lift and made my escape under all those wondering eyes while the kids unloaded their gear.

I was able to deal with the license and get back with the car to pick up the kids at the end of the school day. I subsequently appeared before a Clerk Magistrate, who told me that driving without a valid license is an arrestable offense and fined me a couple of hundred dollars, which I couldn't afford.  I've kept an eye on my license expiration dates ever since.