I’m a law-abiding citizen, for the most part. (I mean, I once tore the “DO NOT REMOVE UNDER PENALTY OF LAW” tag off a mattress, but that’s OK if you own it. I hope.) You won’t find me shoplifting or kidnapping—Lord knows I have enough kids—or disturbing the peace or tagging railroad bridges with “MOM LYFE” in spray paint. Nope, I’m your average non-illegal-risk-taking suburbanite.
I do have a confession to make, however: Sometimes I find myself with a bit of a lead foot. The sign says 35, yet when I glance down at my speedometer it’s pushing 45 (oops!). I know that speed limits are put into place for a reason, and we’re supposed to follow them no matter what, but sometimes people have some very legit explanations for hurrying when they should be meandering. Here are some examples:
1. You’re late. This is probably the most universal cause of speeding. But lateness is sometimes unavoidable, like when you’re heading out the door at the correct time and suddenly there’s a diaper blowout or an escaped dog or a flat tire. When these things happen, there’s little choice but to haul ass once you finally do get on the road. Otherwise you’re forced to suffer the consequences of lateness, which can range from social awkwardness when you walk into a meeting-in-progress to leaving your kid sobbing on the elementary school steps because she thinks you forgot to pick her up.
2. Someone has said, “I don’t feel good.” It’s the stuff anxiety attacks are made of: You’re driving down the road at a legally acceptable pace when all of a sudden there’s a report of nausea from the back seat, and you’re totally unprepared, without a bucket or bag or roll of paper towels in sight. You take a quick mental inventory of the random items littering the back floorboards and realize with a sinking feeling that stale fries and Goldfish crackers won’t help. You’re lacking a decent vomit receptacle, and so far it’s only a threat—plus, you’re only a couple of miles from home—so you take the chance and keep driving. But you’re not driving slowly when there’s a barf blowout at stake.
3. Someone has to poop. Sometimes it’s a passenger who hasn’t been potty trained for all that long and can’t hold it. And sometimes, it’s you—because you’ve put it off long enough, damn it. But the thing with poop is, most people prefer to do it from the comfort of a “safe” toilet: the one at home, for example, or your mom’s or your best friend’s. It’s not a matter of stopping at the nearest gas station. You want to poop where there’s 2-ply toilet paper and no judgment from strangers. So vroom vroom.
4. You’ve been challenged. Minivan drivers are especially susceptible to this phenomenon, wherein you pull up to a stoplight and there’s someone stopped next to you in a cooler ride, and you can just tell they’ve got a cocky attitude. You glance at them, they’re giving you the side-eye, and you know what they’re thinking—that you’re lame in your minivan and they’re so much better in their childless, spotless, sporty little car. You’re like, I’ll show you, and the second that light turns green you pounce on the accelerator like a lion on its prey with the goal of leaving that smug sports car in your family wagon’s dust…
…or maybe it’s just me.
5. This is your “jam.” We’ve all been there. You’re cruising along, humming mindlessly along with the mediocre selections on the radio, when suddenly there it is—your song, the one that you can’t help but crank up as loudly as possible and swerve around like Stevie Wonder in your seat. A good song always makes the car go faster. Maybe it’s to make up for the fact that you can’t properly bust a move behind the wheel? I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure 2Pac’s “California Love” is responsible for my last bout of highway hastiness.
I’m in no way advocating reckless driving—just admitting that I’m guilty of the same minor speed limit infractions as 99.9 percent of other drivers (you know you do it too). So to all the police officers and highway patrolmen who may witness me tootling a little too rapidly down the road: I’m sorry for my tendency to creep a couple of miles over the limit, and I’ll really, really try to watch it from here on out.
Except when I need a bathroom. You understand, right?