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Monday, February 22, 2010

Fooling Barney Fife

I got pulled over on my way to work this morning.  We're still in the winter period where we have to drive with our lights on... and apparently a cop driving behind me noticed that I had a tail light burned out.

Technically when you get such a ticket you have a finite amount of time to rectify the problem; and once you've fixed the problem you need to provide proof to the police.  If you don't do this, the ticket becomes permanent.

But let's face it, who wants to waste time proving to the police that you fixed a broken tail light? 

I'm certainly not in the habit of arguing with the local constabulary... but a friend had once told me that if you have a replacement bulb with you, some cops will let you change it on the spot without writing you a ticket.  And something about this particular cop made me think I might be able to save myself some time.

So as soon as he told me my tail light was burned out, I made a big show of rooting around in my glove compartment and told him I had an extra bulb.  Now, this wasn't actually a lie, since I do carry extra headlight bulbs there.  But I knew full well I didn't have a tail light.

None the less, after a few seconds I made a nice 'discovery sound', jumped out of the car and began opening up the tail light housing. 

He was still on the other side of the car and didn't have a good view of what I was doing.  If he had, he would have seen me take the bulb out of the reverse light fixture and exchange it with the burnt out one in the regular tail light.

When I'd reassembled the tail light housing, I made a big show of demonstrating that both sides were now nicely illuminated, and said a silent prayer that he wouldn't ask to see if my back-up lights were also working.

Satisfied, he put away his ticket book and waved me on my way.

Needless to say, I stopped at the garage on my way into the office and had them replace the back-up light.  And I even bought a couple of spare bulbs... just in case the next cop who pulls me over is a bit more astute than the Barney Fife I encountered today.

[Note:  In fairness, I know this cop was just doing his job.  And the fact that he was less than zealous in observing my little trick probably speaks more to his trusting nature than to any implied ineptitude.  I guess today's post was just me sharing a tiny slice of my day... as well as my relief at not having gotten a ticket.]

Posted by David Bogner on February 22, 2010 | Permalink


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You ... are very clever! :-)

Posted by: Mark | Feb 22, 2010 5:51:20 PM

Better hope he's not a loyal reader!

Posted by: Joe | Feb 22, 2010 8:51:29 PM

That was some quick thinking!

Posted by: G6 | Feb 22, 2010 8:57:05 PM

I wouldn't worry about the policeman who doesn't question if you really had a bulb or if you switched them. At least he understands what the important parts of policework are and what are a quasi-public service.
I would worry about the policeman who actually checks if it's a rear bulb, or if you switched lights on him. THAT is the scary one.
Barney Fife indeed...

Posted by: Larry | Feb 22, 2010 9:43:43 PM

Unless he was carrying only one bullet in his shirt pocket. And his pistol empty, that was not Barney Fife.

Posted by: Dave Bailey | Feb 23, 2010 12:09:42 AM

Sounds like you had a little bit of wit and luck on your side.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 23, 2010 12:16:25 AM

Was it the same cops the Muqata ran into?

Posted by: LakewoodFallingDown | Feb 23, 2010 2:14:38 AM

Was it the same cops the Muqata ran into?

Posted by: LakewoodFallingDown | Feb 23, 2010 2:14:39 AM

Nothing unusual here. I'd rather someone just fix their problem on the spot than cite them for an equipment violation. Doing it that way produces the desired result while being a lot less trouble for everyone.

Backup lights are not required equipment here.

Posted by: Karl Newman | Feb 23, 2010 4:47:10 AM

hmmm.. guess you're not just another pretty face! Brains, too? What a catch your lovely wife has! :)

Posted by: val | Feb 23, 2010 5:08:44 AM

in the states, if you are stopped by a cop, you do not ever get out of your car. good thinking, tho, very impressive.

Posted by: Hadassah | Feb 23, 2010 3:26:46 PM

Isn't your back up light's bulb a single filament bulb? I'd suspect that the tail light's bulb is dual filament, as a running light, and a signal/brake light. You might want to have Gomer Pyle look at that light for you, or next time, you might get pulled over for a burned out brake light, failure to signal....

Posted by: jcf | Feb 26, 2010 11:18:43 PM

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