Opinion: Well, there went her ticket to sainthood


My wife, Mary Elle, is vacationing with my sister in North Carolina. This trip worries me. If my name comes up, no one in that car will take my side.

Mary Ellen was just pulled over for a minor infraction. She never breaks rules, believing they were made to be followed. This kind of harebrained notion caused a rift in the way we raised our son. To her credit, in more than 35 years, Brett has not spent a single night in jail.

Getting stopped by the police has crushed her, ruined her clean record and put a damper on her vacation. My wife’s life has been exemplary. She never had detention, never cheated on a test, never told a lie, never even hot-wired a car. The woman was a saint. Until now.

When you have a clean past, being followed by a police officer is a perplexing and nerve-racking experience. I’ve studied how to deal with the cops when getting pulled over for speeding. For example, I know that saying, “Officer, I was running out of gas, so I had to get home quicker,” doesn’t work.

Mary Ellen has no experience in this area. When she noticed the lights flashing behind her, she waved the policeman around her … for about 23 blocks. Then it dawned on her that he was after her.

 “When you stop crying, ma’am, may I see your license and registration?” the officer asked.

“Oh, there must be some mistake, officer,” Mary Ellen said. “I’ve never done anything wrong in my entire saintly life. You must have me confused with my husband.”

“Ma’am, your license plates are expired.”

 “How could you possibly know that?”

“There’s a little sticker on the plate. It says 2022.”

“Well, how can you expect me to see that from the driver’s seat?”

I actually tried that line myself once, hoping to get a laugh from a cop. I got a sobriety test instead.

Now, back to the phone call from Mary Ellen right after she was stopped.

“Dick, I was just pulled over by the police.”

“Why didn’t you let my sister drive the get-away car?”

“Look, this is no joke. Up until 20 minutes ago, I had a perfect record. I had never done anything wrong in my life. Do you know what this stain on my reputation means?”

“A big celebration at the convent! You’ve moved a lot of the sisters into first place.”

This event apparently created some soul searching on Mary Ellen’s part.

“Dick, this brush with the law has given me a new perspective. I’ve led too sheltered an existence. In fact, marrying you is really the only questionable thing I’ve ever done until today.”

“Hey, marrying me was not exactly committing a crime.”

“No, but it’s probably the closest I’ll ever come.”