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What’s The Cost Of Courtesy?

Traffic Ticket
Photo by Justin Louis

What is the value of being courteous? Well, I can actually put that into numbers – for me it’s around $100 and a couple points on my driving record.

I got pulled over this past weekend.

I knew I got busted. The police car was sitting in a parking lot, facing traffic, and I know I was going over the posted 55mph speed limit. As I passed, the police car immediately pulled out. I got that wave of nausea and I knew he was coming after me.

I slowed down, he got right behind me, followed me for a little while, and lit me up.

I put on my blinker, pulled over to the right, and put my hazard lights on. I rolled down both windows, removed my sunglasses, turned my radio off, and placed my hands on the wheel.

The officer, a young guy, came to my passenger window and asked the standard questions; “where are you headed?” “do you know that you were speeding?”, etc. He told me that he clocked me going 71 in a 55 (although his radar had to be different than my speedometer, because I thought I was going about 65. Yes, still speeding, I know, but I usually know better than going 15+ over the speed limit).

I kept my answers short and polite, “I’m going to pick my dog up from my mom’s” and I answered with “yes, sir” and “no, sir”, and I didn’t argue with him. Honestly, have you ever heard a story of someone winning an argument with a police officer on a traffic stop? It’s pointless and only makes them irritable.

He took my information and went back to his car. He came back after a few minutes with a long piece of paper in his hands and I knew he was giving me a ticket.

He came over to the window and said, “I’m giving you a ticket for obstructed plates, no points. I see that you’re a big Milwaukee Brewers fan, but take the frame off of your license plate.”

And that was that. He wasn’t a jerk, he didn’t give me a hard time. I was polite and courteous to him, and he treated me with respect in return (and saved me about $100 and a couple of points).

The lesson I take from this experience is the old adage, “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. Being polite to somebody never hurts and they’ll usually treat you politely in return.

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