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Some summer pie

“Is there anything else I can help you with?” I cheerfully ask my boss as I’m wrapping up a day at my internship with the local newspaper. (They’ve been kind enough not to give me coffee runs and grunt work, but it never hurts to offer :)

“Well, there is one more thing you can do before you go,” she says with a knowing smile. “You can write your first correction.”

Oh yea. I had been trying to forget about that. My first article for the paper…and my first correction! I messed up the name of one of the people I interviewed. Dan, Danni, Dale, the names are so close. It could have happened to anyone. Except that it happened to me, the new intern. And the mistake was caught by the editor-in-chief who is close personal friends with said person interviewed.

Served: one steaming slice of humble pie.

“It is right at the top of the page in the center,” my mom pointed out. (I think she was trying to be helpful?) So far there’s been minimal backlash and I’ve recovered, but it’s a small town. Things get around.

Yet life here is often funny like the other day when I was commenting to a friend about Fallbrook’s high proportion of volunteer sheriffs. I mean, we’re a retirement community notorious for painstakingly slow drivers (elderly ladies in cadillacs mostly), how many lawless people are there to pull over? And are we really supposed to be intimidated by the elderly cops who look like they shouldn’t be on the road themselves? I should have kept my mouth shut. The very next week, I was assigned to write a feature story honoring our senior volunteer patrol for the magazine’s “active seniors” edition. I laughed (to myself, not my editor!)

To their credit, they were more official than I had imagined, complete with an ancient patrol car appropriately modified without rear inside door handles in case a hardened criminal should decide to bolt for it. Except for the fact that I was the person riding in the back seat, which meant that I couldn’t exit the vehicle whenever we arrived anywhere. “Don’t get used to this,” Jane muttered every time she had to circle around and open my door.

They took their jobs seriously, working that police band radio with authority. “This is Victor, Alpha, Charlie 32 reporting in.” The walkie talkie even crackled, just like in the movies. I got a kick out of listening in on the high profile emergencies like the stranded school bus on Ivy St. and the ominous tip about a threat made against the local library.

“We’ll do a walkthrough later,” Jane said darkly. It’s probably the closest they’ve ever gotten to any dangerous action. The volunteer sheriffs are strictly limited to using non-lethal force and the only they can ticket for is vehicles illegally parked in a handicap zone. Of course! How appropriate.

Volunteer sheriffs notwithstanding, Fallbrook has been fairly crawling with cops over the past few weeks. We’ve all noticed them staking out high profile areas. A scheme to meet the budget shortfall by giving out more tickets? Don’t quote me on it, but that’s my conspiracy theory.

Or perhaps I’m just a little more paranoid of those black and white crown victorias now that I’ve personally encountered a cop in an official capacity. We all knew I was coming due for a speeding ticket…or a car crash (unbeknownst to me, my mom was praying for the former in order to avoid the latter). Still, it was painful.

It happened, predictably, on the straightway of the one road that goes through town. It was a Sunday afternoon coming back from church. I say was zoning out thinking about the sermon, my family would say I always have a lead foot on the pedal, but either way there was no one in front of me and I really have no idea how fast I was going when I saw the cop car pull a quick u-turn with flashing lights. 17 mph over, he informed me. “Do you know what the speed limit is here?” I knew, but pretended that I didn’t. The ploy didn’t work at all.

I really thought that when it came right down to the big moment, I would be able to squeeze out some tears and sympathy from some kind officer. I was disappointed to find myself quite calm and collected, almost emotionless. Apparently the desperate female act is not for me. The cop was also brisk and businesslike, wishing me “good luck” as he sent me away with my expensive ticket. Right, I huffed. Maybe I should just work on my Damsel in Distress look.

But the proverbial cherry on top was the humiliation of having my parents witness the whole thing. They were behind me coming out of church, and their heads swiveled in unison as they passed me sitting on the side of the road with the police car.

Served: one entire pan of humble pie.

Nope, can’t say that it tastes all that good. “But did you learn your lesson?” my dad inquired after the bill came in the mail. “Umm…I learned to keep my eyes open for cops and not go more than 5 mph over?”

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