There was a rollover accident on the I-10 today, and the freeway was actually closed for a time. I was oblivious to this fact when I picked up the kids at school and headed down the 202 to go for our usual Friday Border's run.
By the time we got to the 202/10 interchange, the highway had finally re-opened and cars were trickling through. I only needed to get on the 10 to immediately get off it; unfortunately I was already committed (trapped on the off ramp) before realizing just how bad the traffic situation was (parking lot).
It took us literally an hour to go about a half-mile, and I was inching along the breakdown lane (along with a zillion other cars just trying to get to the damn exit) when Bad Timing struck: a state trooper had pulled someone else over and was just finishing writing up that citation when I happened to be squeezing by his car.
He walked over to the van and gestured for me to put down the passenger side window, and proceeded to read me the riot act for driving on the shoulder. He read out the text book definition of the breakdown lane and its purpose, and then asked me, quite pointedly, "Would you normally be driving in this lane?"
Mindful that this was a man who could force me to spend hours in traffic school or increase my insurance premiums, I kept a lid on my already-frazzled temper. Trying to pacify three hungry kids stuck in traffic for an hour is not conducive to a peaceful outlook on anything. I replied, "No, sir, but this is not a normal situation."
Then he told me he wouldn't be writing a citation but he was giving me a verbal warning for driving on the shoulder. I asked him, "Are you also going to stop and warn the 100 cars behind me, sir?" It's not like I was the first and only person driving on the shoulder, dude!
I knew I was skating on very thin ice there, but this guy was a complete idiot. At this point I'm observing that we are actually blocking traffic, and all the other cars behind me in the breakdown lane are having to pull out and around me so as to go on their way. Officer Officious blah-blahs something else to me -- I wasn't really listening at that point, because I was fearing for my bumpers and side view mirrors -- and I asked him, "May I please go now, Officer?"
More blah-blah, two more cars swing around me. Again, I asked: "May I please go now, Officer?"
He dismissed me with, "Have a safe day."