Warning In The Morning

Monday April 12th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI/Chicago, IL

It’s not too often I end up in the downtowns of both Milwaukee and Chicago in the same day, but today was one of them. I had business in both places and it all ended up on a high note. I’ve been known to complain about living in the sticks as I do, but on days like this I catch a little break. On this day I happened to catch a big one and I’m extremely grateful.

I had a lunch scheduled with my old friend Chris ‘C.P.’ Peppas in Brookfield, WI and it saves a few miles if I take US 45 north instead of going all the way east to I-94. I’ve made the trip countless times and I know the route extremely well by now. It does go through a few towns where the speed limit drops considerably, but in the long run it’s a shorter trip.

Today I had a lot on my mind as I drove through the Milwaukee suburb of Muskego on my way to meet C.P. in Brookfield. Right off I-45 and Highway 36 there’s a road that’s a shortcut, even though I can’t think of the name of it offhand. I do know it saves me time.

I was zipping along and saw a cop parked in a lot where I don’t usually see one. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a police car on that road before. I saw a speed limit sign of 40 MPH about a quarter of a block past the police car and I hit my brakes to slow down right away. I saw the squad car turn around and start following me and I knew I was in trouble.

He ended up following me for almost a mile before firing up the lights. It’s never fun to drive with a cop in the rear view mirror, especially when he won‘t flash any lights. That’s a great way to induce paranoia, and when they did finally flash I actually felt some relief.

I was in an upbeat mood and enjoying the beautiful weather but those lights put me in a foul mood in a hurry. The last thing I needed today was a speeding ticket, especially with my new comedy CD on the way I need to pay for. I saw the cop get out of the car with his cop mustache and slow cop walk, and it didn’t look good. He didn’t appear to be jovial.

One thing I’ve learned to do over the years is always hold my hands up to show that I’m not carrying any weapons, which I never do anyway. I’ve got my license and insurance in my left hand with my right one up in full view right under the rear view mirror. I’ve heard this is a good way to show there’s no surprises, and it’s a sign I’m not looking for trouble.

He asked me if I knew how fast I was going and I really didn’t. He snarled “55 in a 40” and took my license back to his car and sat there for a good twenty minutes. I was late for lunch and getting more pissed off by the minute, and really thought I only deserved to get a warning. I might have been going fast, but I saw him and slowed right down after that.

I watched him get out of the car and do that slow cop walk to mine with no expression at all on his face. I bit my lip and prepared for the worst when he asked for my telephone number. I resisted the urge to make a smart ass comment and I told him. He then gave me a document which he said was a warning, and told me to watch my speed next time. That put me in a jaunty mood in a hurry, and I thanked him and drove away feeling like a king.

I’ve always thought it would be hilarious to yank my license back in that situation and totally spin the tires and lay rubber right in front of him as I flip him the bird. It would be stupid, but still hilarious. Maybe if I find out I have a terminal disease and can’t do a long sentence I’ll think harder about it, but for now I’ll just let it remain my deep inner fantasy.

I caught a break today, and I know it. Mr. Lucky’s stage character would NEVER catch one like that, and it felt good to separate the character from me as a person. There are way too many times when I haven’t, and it’s been torture. For whatever reason, today I had my mojo working and I lucked out. It could have been a number of reasons, but I don’t care.

Maybe it was the fact that I held my hands up. Maybe it was because I didn’t have any outstanding warrants. Maybe he saw my personalized ‘URANUS1’ license plate and had second thoughts about calling it in. Maybe he recognized my name from somewhere and cut me a break. Whatever the case, I want to put a sincere thank you out into the universe.

Life is SO unfair, but this is a situation where I win out. I’m a dorky looking white guy who looks about as far from being a gang banger as humanly possible. I speak clearly and am not intimidated by police officers. I treat them with respect answer questions honestly, and more often than not I end up driving away without a citation. Today was another one.

I really do think it was the right call. There are times when I was speeding and probably do deserve the fine, but not today. It doesn’t mean I couldn’t have got it, and I’m not at all trying to tempt the fates. I caught a break, and was only a few minutes late for my lunch at The Emperor’s Kitchen with C.P. He was understanding about it and life goes on. Again.

C.P. ordered a DVD off of Public Television about Milwaukee things that are no longer in existence. He thought it would be a good resource for ‘Schlitz Happened!’ and I totally agree. I offered to pay but he said it was his gift to me. I paid him back with lunch but I’ll take care of him more than that. At some point I’ll be able to hire him for something paid.

C.P. is a talented writer and a super nice guy and he grew up in Milwaukee so he knows exactly what I’m going for with this. He’s a few years older than me so his references dig a little deeper, which is good. I want to include him on the team somewhere, and he could be a major asset. I can’t pay him right now, but he knows it and said he’d work with me.

I watched my speed on the way home and arrived just in time to shower and crawl right back in the car and drive to Chicago to host the Zanies Rising Star Showcase show. What a great night it turned out to be. The audience was medium in size but large in appetite to see comedy and they couldn’t have been any better. The lineup of comics was stellar too.

That doesn’t happen every time, but when it does it’s a blast to witness. It makes my job a lot easier, and it’s basically a night off. I bring up the comics who kick ass, and I tell the audience who the next one is. It’s a little deeper than that, but not al that much. I watched the show and was impressed by quite a few of the people tonight. Everything fell together perfectly and I got paid in the end. What could be any better? Avoiding a speeding ticket.


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