Righteous Speeding


Why Life Isn’t Fair (an Occasional Series)

I’d reached the sagely age of 21.  After driving my VW Bug into car-diac arrest, chevy_vega_wagon_rear_green_1972I’d finally scratched together the down payment for a groovy avocado green Chevy Vega with harvest gold vinyl seats.

Just two weeks later a very un-groovy cop pulled me over.

“But my speedometer said 65, sir!”

“I clocked you at 72, son.” (As if calling me “son” could transform this travesty of justice into an act of parental concern!)

Even after I courteously explained that I was right and he was wrong, he still refused to grasp the facts, and gifted me with a speeding citation.

I mentioned the situation (yelled) to my car-smart friend, Ray.

“Have your speedometer checked.”

“On a brand new car?”

“It’s a Vega.”

I had it checked and, lo and behold, the speedometer was off by 7 miles per hour! I magnanimously forgave the cop, and prepared my watertight court case.

When the day came, the Bailiff inquired with notable ennui, “How does the defendant plead?”

“Not guilty!” I replied. There were millions of cases ahead me, most of them guilty as snot. Mine will be a refreshing breeze for the jaded judge, I thought.

albany-traffic-small3As I waited, I read from my love-worn copy of Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience: “The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.”

My turn finally came. “In the case of the Universe vs. Mitch Teemley,” the Bailiff droned, “Mr. Teemley wishes to plead not guilty.”

The Judge motioned for me to take the stand. I did so, with Thoreau benignly nestled in my back pocket.

“What’s your story, son?” (Why does everyone think I’m related to them?)

“Funny you should ask,” I began, “because there really is quite a story—“

“Guilty or not?”

“Um, well, not guilty because, you see, I was driving a brand new Vega and…”

The Judge’s caterpillar brows plunged vertiginously.


“Do you have the certification?”

unified-court-systemI triumphantly handed the document to the Bailiff. In a moment the Judge would say how he wished everyone was as noble as me.

“Guilty. You can pay your fine at the Clerk’s window down the hall.”

I sat in stunned silence.

The Bailiff motioned for me to leave, so I stood and began shuffling away, but then stopped.

The Bailiff unsnapped his holster.

“I don’t understand!” I blurted.

“What is it you don’t understand, son? You were going 72 miles per hour, were you not?”

“Well, technically, yes—“

“Well, then technically you were breaking the law.”

“But it’s a new car. I didn’t know—”

“It doesn’t matter whether you knew. You were exceeding the speed limit.”


“We’re done, Mr. Teemley.”

“Your honor, can I just ask you a question?”

The Judge’s eyebrows began an eerie caterpillar dance.

“If someone tied you up and tossed you through your neighbor’s window, would you be guilty of breaking and entering?”

“Pay the fine or go to jail, Mr. Teemley.”

Civil-DisobedienceI pulled Henry David out of my pocket and read aloud: “’Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison!'”

The Judge stared in disbelief. When he finally spoke, it was with the same parent voice the cop had used:

“Do you want to go to jail, son?”

“No, your honor.”

“Then, pay the fine.”

“I can’t. It would be wrong.”

“You broke the law.”

“Not knowingly. Maybe General Motors should pay the fine.” The courtroom erupted in laughter. I grinned. “And I’m not your son,” I added under my breath.

That was bad.

Up until now I’d benefited from the Judge’s amused tolerance. But the moment I showed signs of working the room, his tolerance turned to fumes. “I’ll let you change your plea to ‘guilty,’ and you can go to traffic school. Or you can keep your ‘not guilty’ plea and go to jail.”

The Bailiff hoisted a pair of massive manacles.

“Well, I’m not sure…”

“Choose, Mr. Teemley!”

images“Traffic school!” the coward that lived inside me screamed.

“Thank you. Now go pay your fine.”

“You mean I still have to pay the…?”

The Judge eyebrows plunged.

I hurried from the witness stand. Thoreau bounced to the ground. Was the book trying to escape my craven company? It would have gone to jail!

The Law of Fairness had been broken.  I vowed never to let it happen again!  Though, I confess I broke my vow several times before breakfast the next morning.

To read more of Why Life Isn’t Fair, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Culture, Humor, Memoir, Story Power and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Righteous Speeding

  1. Julia says:

    Hi Mitch. This is really fun writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. VocareMentor says:

    Is this complete fiction or is there any portion of it your personal experience? Enjoyed it. – Just curious.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. my, my, my…As a former law enforcement officer, I once pulled a guy over for driving a rat’s nest of a vehicle. His car was a rolling violation. As I was writing the ticket, I looked at over at the guy. He looked as if all the air had just been sucked out of his sails. “You don’t have the money to pay this ticket do you?” I asked. “No sir, I don’t,” he replied back in a low tone. Tearing up the ticket, I told him to get that piece of %$#^ off the street and I had better not see him on the road till it was fixed. See, some of us are nice!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. dawnlizjones says:

    So, satire was your “native language” from a young age? Nice to meet another.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Not knowingly. Maybe General Motors should pay the fine” makes me laugh. You always funny since you were born 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dvaal says:

    Hilarious! You are a man with confidence. Good quality! I so enjoyed this, I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. frenchc1955 says:

    Mitch, This is wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. theresnoplacelikehome05 says:

    This was great! I had so much fun reading.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Nancy Ruegg says:

    I feel sorry for the 21-year old you that was treated so unfairly. However, the events make great material for a story now. Interesting how sad circumstances from decades ago can now be viewed as funny–at least the way you tell it. Thanks for the chuckle!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lucie says:

    Been there…done that….you were as “guilty as snot”… Too funny! Thanks for the laugh. I needed this reminder!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ray Stiles says:

    i forgot that I was your smart car friend?

    I seem to remember the same circumstance happened to me at about the same-time with my new 71 240z, but I went back to the speed-trap and showed the Fullerton motorcycle radar cop the speedometer re-calibration and (fortunately based on your story), he had the citation dismissed.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. mitchteemley says:

    Ray, let me know if you find Rory. Haven’t heard from (or even about) my childhood buddy in decades!


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  14. mitchteemley says:

    Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:

    The Judge stared in disbelief. “Do you want to go to jail, son?”


  15. lovelibertylife says:

    I hate the way the court system works. Compassion and mercy don’t matter anymore, you are guilty until proving your innocence. Sick, sick, sick world we live in. We need a revolution. This system has to change. How can we make this happen? I enjoyed your humorous tone, and wish we could laugh the system out of existence.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. tabitha59reachingout says:

    This was highly entertaining! Thanks for the laugh. Oh, and I believed it was a true story from the start. I must be getting to know you better now. You are very funny. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. kirkhsmith says:

    I once passed a truck precariously hauling giant steel pipes on the 101 just north of Santa Barbara. The truck was going the speed limit– I had to go over it to pass. Of course, just as I made my move a cop happened to be sitting on the side of the road and pulled me over for speeding. I told him I was only trying to get out from behind imminent danger, but he kept writing the ticket anyway. I didn’t take it as far as the judge like you did, but it still irks me to this day!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Julia Soriano says:

    Mitch, someday I’ll tell you my stories of being a “principled” in my youth.like you were.

    I wonder why this story doesn’t bother me as much as the one about the art smock your mom made for you? Maybe it’s all the lawyers and judges I’m related to — I think I have a soft spot for judicial proceedings and all the people there trying to do their job. My husband keeps waiting for me to commiserate with him about an unfair legal decision that profoundly altered his life and made it way more difficult. I keep saying, “Sounds like the judge had a bad day. Anyhow, you never would have met me if the verdict had gone your way.” Then I get a little mad that he doesn’t see his misfortune many years ago as a vehicle to the great blessing that is me. (Haha!)

    I heard someone say years ago, “Satan must be really angry about all the great blessings God has in store for me, because he sure is making a lot of trouble in my life today.” I thought that was an awesome way to view unfair troubles.

    Liked by 1 person

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