It was a beautiful afternoon, Spring elbowing its way into the air, my kids and I listening to the new Bon Jovi CD as I drove to a church in bucolic Branford. We were making perfect time, singing in unison, readying my daughter's pipes for the choir practice I was taking her to. I dropped her off, exchanged I love you's, and then it was just my boy and I, with the comic book store downtown New Haven as our new destination.
My cell phone rang. I picked it up just as I pulled onto the ramp to get back on the highway. Sirens howled.
The officer addressed my son first, and then asked me for my license. I gave it. As he returned to his vehicle my son informed him that he's exactly who he wanted to be when he grew up. Sweet moment. "I think you just got me out of my ticket, my man," I actually said to the li'l guy. I was wrong. $125 wrong.
The officer told me to stay off the phone while driving, and that I could expect Connecticut to crack down even more on this in the future. I started the car again and continued on my way, my son reiterating he wanted to be that officer when he "growed up." "Do you mean that specific one, the one who just gave me a ticket? Or a policeman in general?" I asked, seeking clarification. "Him," came the response. Um...okay.
Tricky father/son dynamic aside, I brought this story up on "The Project" the following day and was quite surprised not only by the phone calls I received, but also the emails that came in that day, and for many days afterwards. Folks in Branford and the surrounding area are clearly pretty ticked at their law enforcement. Everyone urged me to "fight the ticket," to endeavor to get it thrown out. Many had gotten tickets themselves, with still others relaying that when they neared Branford they put their cell phones in their glove compartments for safe keeping; they don't even wanna risk it. If you ask me, that means Branford Police are doing a hell of a job.
Incidentally, did you know that men are on their phone while driving more than women here in good ol' Connecticut? http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/In-Conn-more-men-than-women-use-phones-drive-3306364.php
I am continuing to get emails, unsolicited legal advice and phone calls from angry drivers about my ticket. They want me to take a stand. They want me to call the Branford Police out for their hipocrisy (evidently many are seen on THEIR phones while driving through town). But, I won't. I can't. Wanna know why? I was talking on my phone while driving my car, and with my 6-year-old in the backseat. It's against the law, never mind putting my main little man's life at risk (even if, I suspect, he wants to arrest me when he grows up). Whatever happened to ramification? We've become a nation devoid of ramification. Not here; not with me. When I write the check and put it in the envelope, my son will be the one who puts said envelope in the mail.