I’ve written before about defining moments.
We all have them.
We all recognize them.
Because they are few and infrequent, they are easily recognizable when they occur. Sometimed they even come in the mail.
I had one last night.
It was a doozie.
Honestly, last night may have been my finest hour. My crowning achievement. That one moment where everything comes together just right and a choir lines up and sings an anthem with your name in it.
None of this will matter to anyone else but me. I don’t care. I’m writing it down because I won.
But my achievement and the victory of my lifetime will mean nothing without a little background.
Recently I took a short trip to Savannah, GA with some of my favorite people—all locals. Without any masculine assistance, we hooked a hefty cargo basket to my trailer hitch (5 middle-aged women don’t pack light), arranged suitcases like a real world game of Tetris, figured out nets and straps, and drove off into the sunset. We drove my car, which seats 6 somewhat comfortably, depending on which seat you are in. I did much of the driving.
Me driving means a lot of things. It means getting places on time or early. It means spanky doodle playlists with 156 awesome tunes from the 80s and 90s.
And it means being willing to take criticism.
Lots and lots and LOTS of criticism.
There were four other people in the vehicle.
Passenger #1 never criticized my driving, not because she’s too noble, but because she refuses to do any driving herself, doesn’t drive any more impressively than I do, and doesn’t care to jump into most frays. She’d rather read a magazine and let the dumpster fires burn.
Passenger #2 never criticized my driving either, and probably is slightly more noble than the others. But though she was never overtly critical, she was voted to take over for me late that first night when I was deemed ‘unsafe’ by Passengers 3 and 4.
Passenger #3 wasn’t so much critical as she was amused by the criticism offered by anyone else. She was unwilling to lead a raid, but was running with the raiders. Passenger 3 is a pot stirrer. And she enjoyed the contents of the pot as often as possible.
Passenger #4 was the Informinator. The Knower of All Knowledge. The Finder of All Answers. The Chief of Police, Criticism and Complaints Branch. We’ll call her Elaine here, because her name is Elaine. Names have not been changed to protect the innocent.
There are no innocents to protect.
Everyone is guilty.
And while we’re at it, Passenger 1 is Melissa, 2 is Becky, and 3 is Erin. And though I love them, they mostly all stink.
After a short drive, followed by a dinner, a longer drive, and then a stop at a gas station in East Georgia, I was voted out of the driver’s seat. Of my own car.
Walking back out to the car from the convenience store, I looked over at Becky who had a funny look on her face.
“What?” I asked. “You got a problem with me, too? Do you want to drive?” Becky chuckled and then said sheepishly.
“I don’t have a problem and I’m not dying to drive,” and then she paused. “But they want me to.” She nodded her head back toward Erin and Elaine.
“Of course they do,” I said. “Ok, fine. Whatever.” I wasn’t actually mad and truthfully, I was pretty tired by this point. “Have at it.” And I walked around to the passenger side of the front seat. “You two can shut your pie holes,” I added. But they didn’t. And they wouldn’t for the rest of the weekend.
All of that took place on a Wednesday night. Becky took us safely into Savannah where we stayed parked for the next 36 hours. On Thursday, we walked everywhere and drove nowhere.
On Friday, we had decided to hit the beach. That meant driving to Tybee Island, which was 40 minutes away. Still smarting from the flaming darts of Wednesday night, I handed the keys to Elaine.
“You’re driving to Tybee,” I announced. “I’m sure you’ll do better than I could do.” I didn’t really mean that. She wasn’t going to do better than I could have done. Elaine hemmed and hawed just a tad—enough to make it seem like she was putting up a fuss—and then conceded by getting behind the wheel.
We started the playlist up again and 4 of us sang at the top of our lungs to things like Livin’ on a Prayer and Ice Ice Baby and Wide Open Spaces. There were many places we could have stopped on the way to the beach to buy towels. We passed up a Target, for crying out loud. But for some reason we settled on a corner CVS, mistakenly thinking the seasonal aisle in Georgia in October would be a replica of the seasonal aisle in Florida in October. You know what Georgia sells on the seasonal aisle in late October? Mittens. Scarves. Hats. Chapstick.
Not beach towels.
So Elaine and I purchased a 2 pack of Bounty, the quicker picker upper, and called it a victory. That day was a magical combination of the stupid and the superb. It was laughing at the ones who I could fit into one of my pants legs but still couldn’t march up the lighthouse’s 174 steps without doubling over and gulping in air by the metric ton. It was introductions to strangers and ocean views that steal the words from your mouth. It was perfection.
But you know what? This post isn’t about any of that.
It’s about the driving.
It was a great trip overall. Yeah. But it ended and we all came home, exchanged pictures, reminisced, and returned to the civilian living of jobs and carpools and early weekday alarms.
Then last week, I stood at the mailbox and peered into it. Sometimes if the mail looks bad enough, I’ll leave it in there for a day or two just to punish it. But on that day, I saw an official looking envelope addressed to me. So I opened it, hoping it was a rebate check or an invitation to run for office or something.
It was a ticket.
A speeding ticket.
A photographically enforced speeding ticket.
Dang it. Of all the things. After all the abuse I had endured from my friends, now I was receiving notice from the state of Georgia, by way of some law enforcement agency in Chatham County, Tennessee that the vehicle “pictured and described herein was photographed violating public safety in a school zone.” I was clocked going 58 in a 45. They apparently wouldn’t have enforced it if I’d been going 56. But of course.
I stewed on all of this for quite a while. I vented to Todd. I should have just paid the thing that afternoon and let it all go as Todd suggested. But that would have been way too emotionally healthy a choice to make. So I set the ticket aside for several days and thought about it constantly.
Finally, after too much time stewing, I picked the ticket back up from its spot on the game cabinet in the family room and decided I was going to take care of it. This was last night. I re-read the statement about how my driving was a hazard to southern school children everywhere, but most especially Georgia, and got angry all over again.
Then I decided to text Elaine as I was about to pay the ticket online.
“I go back and forth between ‘whatever’ and ‘NUH UH’ on the photo speeding ticket I just received from the state of GA by way of Chatham County, TN. It highlights that I was speeding in a school zone at improper times. $75 ticket plus $25 processing fee (oh brother!). I’m guessing I should just pay it and obviously I can. But the ridiculousness of the explanation makes me want to fight. Can’t fight GA, though. I’d have to go there to fight.” (I can be pretty verbose while texting.)
“Was that from our trip?!” Elaine typed back.
And then, she asked me a question. A question that in that moment would change my life.
“Was it me or Becky?”
Well, now. I hadn’t even considered that possibility. I was so quick to accept the anti-Missy propaganda I had been fed.
“Ha!” I responded. “I hadn’t even thought of that. It might have been you, lol. Friday at 10:29 a.m.”
“It me,” she typed back.
Ohhh man. I continued to text the following.
So at this point, there was a lot of back and forth about paying the ticket. Elaine insisted that she pay and DID pay. At the red arrow in the image above, less than 40 seconds from finding out she was the brazen lawbreaker, Elaine sent a Venmo payment for the entire amount. Following this payment, she insisted I inform the group about her crime and made statements like, “You need to bask in your superiority,” and “This is my journey,” and “I will sit in my shame.”
So here I am basking. As she sits in shame and takes the journey. How does it feel to walk the LOOOOONG plank of almost mowing down a Georgia 2nd grader while selfishly singing “I wear my sungleasses at night?” I wouldn’t know how that feels. Because I didn’t do it.
So, yeah. I’ve had some success in my life. I’ve had some good days and some really good days. But yesterday was the best day. The very best. This day–the day I shut Elaine’s mouth forever–is in my front pocket with my $100 bill, my rabbit’s foot, and a roll of Sweet Tarts that are heavy on the pinks and purples.
Somebody got a speeding ticket in Savannah for jeopardizing public safety and it wasn’t me.