Stop! In the Name of Love!

The Staff of Make it Missoula asked our Bloggers to chime-in for Valentine’s Day. We hope you’ll find of each of them inspiring in their own unique way. Be sure to check out our Valentine’s Day Contest. In 25 words or less, tell us of your most memorable Missoula Valentine and you’ll be entered into a chance to win a $100 gift certificate to The Red Bird Restaurant.

By JEN SLAYDEN

I am not one to go gaga over Valentine’s Day, but it is nice to be appreciated by my spouse, and to show him appreciation. Four years ago, when he was still working in the corporate world I decided I would leave a nice surprise for him at his office.

Back then, I was coming in every other weekend to clean his office for a little extra spending money. February 13th, after a day of cleaning, I decided to head over to Eastgate Shopping Center to buy beautiful roses and helium balloons. My idea was for husband Mark to come in to work the next day, fully expecting nothing, to find a romantic floating love notes hovering above his desk. That was my plananyway.

After purchasing my amorous ammunition, I turned off Broadway and headed to the end of Madison Street and Spruce to a stop sign. With a dozen balloons in my face I did what I perceived to be a semi-stop before turning right. Apparently the police officer behind me didn’t think that my “stop” was legal at all.

As soon as I came across the railroad tracks I saw red flashing lights in my rear-view mirror. I briefly imagined that the car was just adding some valentine lights for the fantasy I had unfolding in my brain. After reality hit, I pulled over thinking the cruiser would go past me. No such luck. I sat waiting for the nice man to come greet me, but he didn’t even step foot from his car until another police officer showed up. Now I started getting nervous.

With my eyes glued nervously to the rear-view mirror, I saw two officers approach–one from each side. A story line unfolded in my head.  “Driver in stolen van loaded with drug paraphernalia reveals stressed-out mom.”  The only problem with the headline was, it was MY maxi-taxi, and I don’t do drugs. But that is how I felt, seeing the officers holding their holsters with one hand as their approached both sides of my enormous bright blue mother van. I started wondering if this was a mistake. If they had an APB out for a similar van with a dead body in the back!

When I opened my driver’s side door it must have been quite the sight. My automatic window didn’t roll down, so the only way I could talk to the man with the stern face was to open the door. I did this while simultaneously trying to keep the balloons from whacking him in the face. I didn’t want assault charges added to my growing list of perceived violations. Unfortunately the balloons DID gravitate toward him, and he wasn‘t amused.

The officer didn’t have any sense of humor. At all. So, after another fifteen minutes of waiting for him and his “rookie” to fill out paperwork and make sure that I wasn’t an escaped felon, I finally was given a ticket to appear in court for running a stop sign.

I tried to act as if nothing happened when I came home, but I was visibly shaken up and upset. I finally told Mark about being pulled over, but tried to not talk about the balloons and flowers that had distracted me.

One week later I landed in Judge Larson’s court. He asked me to enter a plea. I hesitated a moment, wondering how he would react if I told him I was guilty in love. I thought the better of it, so I just said I was guilty. He then gave me a chance to explain.

I told him the story, all the while trying to display my “I’m a law abiding citizen” look. I questioned why there needed to be two police officers to give a hard working mama a ticket! He said that some of the rookies couldn’t be taught good manners but most of the officers were really good with their “van side” manners. However, I DID run a stop sign.

The verdict was in. I would have to pay for a $60 ticket. Only $10 dollars for the violation though. The other $50 was a processing fee.

On my way out the door, a young man couldn’t contain his smile as I headed out of court. He had been entertained during my plea with the judge and my creative defense.  He glanced at me and stated said “I bet that was the most expensive Valentine’s Day present you ever bought!”

Was he ever right. I have gone back to boring Valentine’s Day gifts ever since. I guess you could say I have stopped in the name of love.