I don't like wearing my seat belt. I think it's genetic, because my mom doesn't like wearing one either. My dad is a big fan of seat belts. In fact, he refused to teach me to drive until I promised to always wear one. Which is just to say, that I fully understand that anything bad that happens to me for not wearing a seatbelt is completely deserved. I also understand that it is the law in Virginia that every driver must be wearing her seatbelt.
But I freely admit, that when the kids aren't in the car, and I'm going somewhere close, I don't often wear my seat belt. In fact, one of my favorite features of my car is that the little bell that dings when the driver doesn't have her seat belt on has worn out. It produces no sound. It has given up on its one life function. I know my dad just fell out of his chair, trying to calculate how many times I must have failed to wear my seat belt to wear the bell out, although it's possible he doesn't even know there is a seat belt warning bell since his probably never dings. Let's just say this, Dad. It's an impressive number. It takes years. I bought that care in 2001. The bell used to ding all the way from my old home to the Safeway parking lot (several blocks away). It would stop about 30 seconds before I turned my car off. And then one day, it just stopped. It had given up and admitted defeat.
A few mornings ago, I went to pick up something less than two miles from my home. I came to a four-way stop and who should arrive to the right of me just a nanosecond later? A police officer.
I did not have my seat belt on. It was my turn to go. I was in a pickle.
I paused, hoping the officer would cruise on through. He sat on his motorcycle staring at me.
So there we sat, staring at each other. I'm not sure what he was thinking, but I was debating in my head whether it would be better to drive off and pretend like I wasn't doing anything illegal, or if I should put the seat belt on which would certainly draw attention to the fact that prior to our stare down, I wasn't wearing a seat belt. I also considered just turning the car off and walking around it, pretending to check the tires or pop the hood.
This waiting was getting endless. Someone would need to make a move. We were at two connecting side streets with little to no traffic, so there was no one honking at either of us forcing the issue.
I made my move.
I reached over my shoulder, grabbed the seat belt, and buckled. I figured I could preserve my defense that he hadn't actually SEEN me driving without a seatbelt with this action.
The officer smiled big, gave me a thumbs up (both of which I returned), and then drove on his way.
Thank you, officer. I should promise to be better about this. But...well...all that effort to wear the bell out would seem like such a waste.
Do as I say, people, not as I do.
When I told Ed the above story, I could tell the whole time he waiting to see how big a fine I would get. When I didn't get one, he simply admonished "you should wear your seatbelt".