Dirty Copper

Let me preface this by saying I’m not trying to start a movement against the Norman police and/or disrespect their shiny badges.  I can’t imagine how trying it must be to chase down date-party drunkards every Thursday night, let alone deal with all the Okie meth heads (which I’m pretty sure inhabit at least 40% of my neighborhood).  So for the most part, I commend the local police folk for what they do.


Policemen and women here in Norman have gained some notoriety in the past, not for saving us all from dangerous criminals but for pulling over law-abiding citizens for absolutely anything.  Are you familiar with this anomaly?  I’m betting that you are.

And as of this morning, I’m pretty damn familiar with it too.

So I’m driving home from the Huf, going the allotted 30 mph on Lindsey as I suspect the Traffic Nazis are out in full force now that school’s up and running.  And not 3 seconds later my suspicions are confirmed when a cop car pulls up in the lane beside me.

We’re at a stoplight now…I give the officer the once-over, make a mental note to not drive like a maniac, then turn up Rhianna and proceed with my daydreaming.  Yes, I daydream while I drive.  It can’t be any worse than texting.

Then my light changes to green, and I turn left into the right-hand lane.  In the process I think to myself, “hmm, this is a lil bit illegal,” but I have to turn right again almost immediately and thus justify my gray-area driving decision.

And then the flashy red and blue lights are flying up behind me.

Immediately upon pulling over I realize this to be your typical toolbag policeman…he saunters the entire way to my driver’s side window, and when I greet him with an irritated, “yes officer?” he flashes me a yellow grin and says proudly, “YOU just made an illegal left turn!”

So I pause, tell myself I need to be respectful and mum, then ignore my own advice completely and delve into my self-defense.

“Umm, howzat?”  I say.

“You turned into the outside lane, miss.  You gotta turn into the inside lane.”

(Officer Toolbag chews steadily on his toothpick, and I swallow the bubble of fury rising in my throat.)

“Even though I had to turn right again immediately?  I mean, I had to be in the right lane!”  I say with forced steadiness.

“Yep.  Those people turning right have right-of-way.  You coulda caused a wreck back there!”

I pause at this, as I’m genuinely confused.

“So wait, even though I had a green arrow and they were turning right on red, THEY have right-of-way?!”

Officer Toolbag pauses.

Officer Toolbag pauses again.

“Miss, license and registration please,” he says finally, clearly perturbed that I have the audacity to possess a brain.

I hand him my information, and before he turns back to his squad car he throws in one last jab.

“You just need to slow down next time, miss.  Then you can turn into the inside lane and still turn right.”

I hesitate, knowing what I’m about to say could push me into Serious Ticketville territory.  Then I think TO HELL WITH IT and reply,

But I wasn’t speeding.”

Officer Toolbag glowers at me, clenches his yellowed teeth hard on his toothpick and mumbles,

“I know.”

And that marked a momentous occasion in my life, as my inability to keep my mouth shut actually saved me from getting a ticket!  Apparently Officer Toolbag was, as suspected, completely full of chit, because when he returned to my car all he gave me was a warning and a, “I would simply love it if you swallowed your own tongue right now” glare.

So to those who’ve experience Norman Cop Toolbaggedness in the past, I apologize for not believing you from the start.  For in some cases there clearly is toolbaggedness, and I know many before me have not been as fortunate as I.

But view my triumph as yours too, my friends.  For it was one small step for an OU student, but one giant leap for OU studentkind.

Much love.

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No Comments on "Dirty Copper"

  1. Sarah
    21/09/2009 at 10:21 am Permalink

    Sounds like you deserved the ticket, you should thank the officer you refer to as “toolbag” for letting you off without one, even though you tried to argue that your illegal turn was “no big deal”… sure, there are plenty of worse offenses, but don’t underestimate that what you did was dangerous and could harm someone.

    “Intersections are perhaps the single most dangerous environment in traffic. According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than one-fifth of all traffic fatalities happen at intersections.”


    It may seem like “nothing” from behind the wheel but it’s still dangerous.

  2. Clint
    21/09/2009 at 7:07 pm Permalink

    Turning left and immediately into the right hand lane is illegal?? So, how are you supposed to get your used sneakers and t’s into the Salvation Army on Classen and Lindsey? U-turn on lindsey seems to be out of the question…and anywhere you turn in to (i.e. Braums, Taco Bell, the driveway across the street) means you have to turn across atleast 2 lanes of traffic, then turn back in to the destination crossing 2 more lanes of traffic. Exactly how long do you have to grace the inside lane before making the switch anyway…now that could be debatable!

    Ok, so maybe I just ruined some of my credibility there, not knowing the law. But come on Officer Sarah (thanks for the “Federal Highway Administration” statistics lesson by the way), this is exactly what Abigail is talking about being wrong with the “toolbag” officers around here. If you are going to pull me over, you sure as hell better not start quoting the dangers of intersections according to some lame statistics. Really, how many of those fatal accidents occur with vehicles in merging positions at speeds less than 15 mph? Don’t answer that, bc I’m sure you can.

  3. Sarah
    22/09/2009 at 8:43 am Permalink

    Yes, turning left and immediately into the right hand lane is dangerous, and in some states illegal. They teach that in driver’s ed.

    Sorry my statistics are “lame,” maybe asserting my opinion with nothing but self-righteousness to back it up would have been more “cool.” Geez, I mean, who cares that car accidents are the leading cause of death for people under 35 in America. (Sarcasm is “cool”? Eh?)

    There are a lot of things wrong with the way the cops in Norman operate. They’re imperfect people, working for an imperfect institution. But pulling people over for bad driving is not really a problem, in my opinion. Everyone is required, by getting behind the wheel of a car, to know the traffic laws. That’s what being a “licensed driver” IS.

    Sorry I stepped on some toes, defensive kids, but people shouldn’t take driving so lightly, it upsets me when they do because it’s dangerous. That’s what my capstone research was on. I had to call it out. Serious business. People are dying here, come on.

  4. Ben
    22/09/2009 at 9:21 am Permalink

    Is this a melodrama?

  5. BB3
    22/09/2009 at 9:29 am Permalink

    sarah….come on. seriously? this was a blog. she’s not trying to start a petition aimed at getting norman police off the streets. it was a vented frustration. next time you get pulled over for something…no matter how minute or “insignificant,” remember this blog.

    norman police are fond of overkill on routine stops. the other day i saw a guy run a red light. it’s extremely dangerous, no doubt. he should be ticketed. i’m not questioning the police officer pulling him over. but when i drove by 10 minutes later and there are 3 cop cars there…..overkill. he ran a red light. give him a ticket. go on about your business.

    if you’re really that concerned about traffic violations…start your own blog.

    now….for my comments about your blog, abigail….i agree and sympathize. 😉

  6. Clare
    22/09/2009 at 9:33 am Permalink

    Whoa, whoa, whoa… Enough with the bitterness and hostility. There’s only so much that I can take before it gets really, really old. Begs the question of when’s the last time someone took their Zoloft.

    Aaaanyway, since this is a blog meant to bring humor to Sooners’ day-to-day lives, I highly doubt that Abigail would have blogged about an incident where she nearly killed someone. I mean, come on. It’s my understanding that there was no one else coming, and she needed to be in the exiting lane immediately. We all know how Oklahoma roads are set up. Not always the greatest. Look at Tulsa. Or to bring in a negative Texas comment, look at Dallas. Lanes merge where you are automatically in the far right lane, then you have to exit to the far left, and so on and so forth. It gets ridiculous and almost humanly impossible.

    I believe the point was to share a humorous story about THAT cop. The one that is always in rare, cocky form..who probably signed on for the power. Probably the same one that pulled me over because he and his buddy that was with him (who was NOT a cop yet) ran my license plate and recognized me from high school. ..I found this out later from a mutual friend.. At the time, I thought it was because my teeny tiny tag light was out.

    So, the moral of the story? Blogger keep blogging. Readers keep reading..or don’t because you are not forced to read this blog. (I know, that’s the real kicker, huh?)
    And calm. down. Enjoy life. Smell the roses. Soak up the….clouds…

  7. Sarah
    22/09/2009 at 9:58 am Permalink

    Sorry dudes, not backing down on this one. I really, genuinely care about social problems related to transportation. I wrote a 25 page paper about it, I’ll skip the blog, thanks. And… sorry but… posting something on the internet admitting that your driving sucks but being simultaneously incensed that anyone would try to reprimand you for your carelessness sort of makes you a target for people like me. Why start my own blog when this comment form is ready and waiting? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do, in a comment form… comment?

    So here’s my comment. Sure, cops can be jerks, are capable of making something out of nothing… and it sucks to get a ticket. It’s expensive, a hassle, maybe unfairly administered when those jerks you see doing 95 on the highway sometimes go unpunished… but lets remember the bigger picture. Dude ran a red light? Could have killed someone. That’s a big deal. As much as we like to pretend that traffic violations, even minor ones, are permissible, they cause a lot of problems for a lot of people, including innocent people. When people feel entitled to be careless and endanger the lives, health, and property of others, I think that’s worth criticizing. I’m okay standing alone on this one, I think you guys are all wrong.

  8. BB3
    22/09/2009 at 10:12 am Permalink

    are you legally retarded? i wasn’t saying that the guy that ran the red light wasn’t doing something dangerous. but was 3 cops necessary? no. 1 would have done the job. and if you wanna go into the careless driving argument….have you EVER driven 1 mile over the speed limit? ever not used your blinker? ever sent or read a text while driving? better yet…do you even have a license?

    i understand that driving is a serious responsibility. i’ve lost more friends due to “transportation related problems” than anyone should in a lifetime. but to start harping on someone who is venting….again, come on. have you ever been frustrated in traffic? ever been pulled over? ever been ticketed? ever taken your hands off 10 and 2? if so….you’re hypocrisy knows no bounds…..

  9. pantone175c
    22/09/2009 at 10:21 am Permalink

    ok ok! Let’s agree to disagree on this one guys. Did anyone see the OU iPhone app? Anyone using it?

  10. Clare
    22/09/2009 at 10:31 am Permalink

    Shine on, you brave and noble knight..you lone wolf..you who crave martyrdom.

    🙂 Don’t have an iPhone, but I’m sure it’s real neat.

  11. pantone175c
    22/09/2009 at 10:33 am Permalink

    move along… nothing to see here… 😉

  12. pantone175c
    22/09/2009 at 10:34 am Permalink

    and YES! the iPhone app is neato

  13. Ashley
    24/09/2009 at 12:15 pm Permalink

    While the 3 cops thing seems like overkill, the reason they do that is to train new cops. I was once pulled over for my tag light being out, and within a few minutes there were 4 cop cars with flashing lights ablaze behind me. So, I asked the officer that originally pulled me over, “What gives?” It’s not like he found a body in my trunk or something. That was the answer he gave me: on-the-job training. Still seems a little overkill in my opinion, but alas.

    That being said, while minor traffic violations could, I suppose, cause death and destruction to all, in reality, the author in question made a legit judgement call forced upon her by the city’s layout. Obviously the officer realized that she was in the right, because he didn’t give her a ticket. Abigail didn’t state that the city of Norman should unite in thwarting traffic laws, sheesh. Chill. Out. I also think it’s worth mentioning that the leading contributing factors in motor-vehicle related deaths are 1. speeding, and 2. alcohol. Miss Abigail was neither speeding nor drunk, so methinks, Sarah, that your accusation of Abigail being unsafe is just a tad unwarranted.

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