Guilty as charged.
Last month I was driving down Veterans Parkway minding my own business. Just a man tooling along in his pickup truck running a lunch-hour errand. No worries. No problems.
It was even my birthday,
Like I said, no worries, no problems.
Somewhere around Ninth Street, it all changed. Just that quick. I now had a few worries and a problem.
A Columbus Police motorcycle officer locked in behind me, his blue lights working overtime. I was able to pull into the Burger King parking lot and my new friend dutifully followed.
I was running a mental checklist of what I was doing the last five blocks.
Seat belt? On.
Speeding? Not sure, but I don’t think so.
Red light? OK, maybe it was yellow back by the Spencer House, but everything is yellow back by the Spencer House.
That had to be it. I must have blown through a yellow light and he caught me.
The well-mannered, professional officer approached my truck as I was scrambling for proof of insurance and registration. The moment of truth had arrived. I couldn’t believe my ears when he rattled off the infraction.
Littering, he said. The first thought was, “No way. I didn’t throw anything out of the truck?”
Didn’t have to. My truck did it for me.
A Styrofoam cup in the bed of my truck blew out. All I can figure is it must have hit the nice officer.
After informing me of my transgression, he checked the bed of my truck for any other trash that could blow out. Nothing there.
I fully expected the officer to write me a warning ticket. I earned a warning.
Not in his mind.
He gave me the real deal, a Uniform Traffic Citation for littering. Guilty as charged, though I never saw the cup blow out of the truck.
As I have since discovered, littering isn’t cheap. That cup is going to cost me $134 and change.
I have thought about fighting it, entering a not guilty plea in Recorder’s Court, posting a bond and forcing it into State Court. I have the right to do that.
At first, that was my plan. But upon further review, it seems petty. After all, the cup was in my truck and blew out in front of an officer — did I mention how professional he was?
But at the end of the day, I was guilty as charged. With my luck, if I fight it and win some investigative television journalist, law enforcement officer or attorney who does not care for me would cry foul. They would scream that I got special treatment on a littering ticket. They would scream so loud Keep Columbus Beautiful would picket my home.
It’s just not worth it.
And, besides, the nice officer couldn’t have been more polite. He even wished me “Happy Birthday” when he handed me the ticket.