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It was a better lesson than Mel Gibson's father taught
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Long before I learned to drive, probably before I understood the whole concept of car-and-driver symbiosis, my father taught me that under no circumstances, including prevention of a global thermonuclear conflagration, should I *ever* keep the car's owner card (the document he called "the registration", a source of great confusion in the future when I had no idea what an owner's card was) in the glove compartment of the car. This was the fast path to hell via personal destruction, eventual bankruptcy and shame, and veritably guaranteed that the car would be stolen.

He instructed that the registration was the only document that proved you actually owned the car and could be used by the thieves that lurked around every corner to claim ownership when they stole the car, as they inevitably would. (Keep in mind that we lived so far out in the sticks that cow tipping was considered a city sport.) To my knowledge, none of my father's cars was ever stolen, but that wasn't the point. The point was to be prepared, ever vigilant. This apparently arose from memories of living through the Depression (and eating nothing but rabbit for months on end, which, considering that he also raised the rabbits must have also contributed to the particular brand of warped that he exhibited), his background as an Eagle Scout, and a unshakable belief in the black/white nature of right and wrong. Gray - much less shades of it - did not exist in his universe.

This is one lesson to which I have always adhered, although I rejected the daily budgeting (to the penny, dammit), the parsimonious approach to family vacations (five-star accommodations were those that had full water-electric-sewer hook-ups for the trailer), and the compulsive need for perfectly straight lines in the grass from the mower (I never touched a lawn mower again since I ran crying into the house after he pointed out the several degrees of deviation from flawless that resulted from my attempt at mowing).

At least I thought I had lived up to it until last night. I drove to the formerly-working-class-but-now-gentrified town of West Conshohocken to meet one of my college roommates for dinner. She gave me directions, which I followed a little too closely, making every turn she specified, even the illegal left-hand one. The left-hand one that was right in front of the West Conshohocken police station. The new tax base must be providing quite a windfall because no sooner had I made the turn (not having seen the tiny sign that declared it a no-turn zone until 7:00 PM) than I was surrounded by not one but THREE police cars, all with lights flashing and sirens blaring.

After explaining my criminal behavior to me, the officer asked for my license (no problem, in my wallet right where it's supposed to me), my insurance card (it must be under all these Chik-Fil-A napkins, the copy of a Tom Clancy novel I keep in the car for emergency reading, extra gloves [it *is* a glove compartment, after all and my father never had a rule about insurance cards], and car chargers for every model cell phone I've ever owned), and my owner's card (which has been relegated to my overflow wallet, because the main wallet had gotten a bit too hefty with all the membership cards, credit cards, coupons, etc.).

It was clear I was having a bit of trouble finding the other proofs-of-being-a-responsible-adult so he took the license and checked me out. I'm surprised that one of the other cops, who were peering into the passenger side window, in case I pulled a Glock from the center console or shoved the bags of heroin under the seat I guess, didn't make a move for his gun. I apparently came back clean because he gave me a warning, told me to find the other cards and keep them IN THE GLOVE COMPARTMENT (I nearly fainted at that advice, but chose not to get into a lengthy discussion of my late father's perspective on the subject), and told me where to park for free to avoid the valet parking charges at the restaurant.

After all that, I got to the restaurant (early, of course; there are some compulsions that are so deep-seated they could never be therapized out of me) and found out they had no seats for us. They recommended a place up the street that they also owned. This required walking past the police station. The one bright spot - no citation for jay-walking.

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