"Do you know what I pulled you over for?" the cop asked, taking my license and registration. His partner was scanning the inside of my van with his flashlight.
"Honestly, no," I told him, which was the truth. I had taken the ramp off the highway and stopped at the light at the end of the exit. As soon as the light turned green, they turned on their disco lights.
"Where are you headed?" he asked, staring at my license.
"Home. I just got off work."
"Where do you live?"
"Where do you work?"
"At the university."
"The university, huh? Doesn't it seem like you're a little out of your way?" he asked, sneering.
"Do you know a better way?" I asked, genuinely curious. If there was a faster way, I sure didn't know about it.
"Well," the cop said, ignoring my question, "the reason we pulled you over is because you took an unnecessary detour through a high drug traffic zone."
"The highway?" I asked.
"Do you have anything I should know about? Anything you shouldn't have?"
"Do you mind if we take a look?"
I did mind. If a cop asks for consent to search, it's because they don't have a real reason to search. You're legally allowed to say no, but cops always have more tricks up their sleeves. I remembered that I had just received my new license plate in the mail, but hadn't put it on. If the one on the back was expired, and I said no to a search, the cops would more than likely write me a ticket for that and anything else they can find. I had no choice but to allow them to toss the car. Every time the cops had ever searched a car I was in, they had made a mess. Once, they even dumped a bag of potato chips on the floor of my friend's car during a fruitless search. I hoped if I cooperated they wouldn't be such assholes.
I got out of the car and one of the cops patted me down.
"What's this bulge in your pocket?"
"Uh, I don't know, can I feel it so I can tell you what it is?"
"Can I just pull it out? You don't have any needles or anything do you?"
"No, go ahead."
He pulled it out, and it turned out to be a handkerchief I had forgotten about.
"Oh, snot rag," I said.
"Gee, thanks," he chuckled.
The cops went through the van, finding nothing of interest except for a pill on the floor.
"What's this pill?"
"I don't know. I assume a pain killer of some kind."
"A pain killer?"
"Yeah, over the counter," I told them, which was the truth.
They let me get back in the car and I waited for a couple minutes while they talked. Finally one of the cops came and gave me my license and registration.
"Is your license plate expired?" he asked.
"I don't know, it might be, I just got the new one in the mail."
He walked to the back of the car and then back to the window.
"Yeah, it's expired. Put that on tomorrow, alright? You're free to go."
I went home, and wondered where it was that I could buy drugs on the highway.