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Column: My left-behind snore guard and beating a bum rap

If you’re a man over 40 (I am), chances are that you snore (I do). That unpleasant noisemaking afflicts about 60 percent of males, but there is something you can do about it – wear a snore guard, a small plastic device that opens up the airways. I’ve been doing so for several years, with pretty good results, and I take it with me whenever I leave home. That includes trips between Boston and Jaffrey. I only own one, so I have my regular routine to be sure I don’t forget it.

Another problem that affects aging males is absentmindedness, and I seem to have that too. I usually remember to bring the snore-stopping device from Boston to Jaffrey. The problem is at the other end, remembering to take it back to the city. If I forget, this not only disturbs my sleep but it also irritates the Pianist.

A year or so ago, I found myself back in Boston with my snore guard left behind in Jaffrey. The next morning, I decided to take a detour on my way to the office and retrieve the device.

I took the usual route, through Cambridge, part way around Fresh Pond Circle, and on to Route 2 heading west. It was a clear day, not much traffic, and I had the company of a recorded book. About midway I saw a blue car marked “State Police” going around fifty-five or so. Taking no chances, I pulled behind the cruiser, which started to slow down – fifty, forty-five, forty. I finally decided to pass.

No sooner did I get back into the right-hand lane than the blue light started flashing. It doesn’t take three guesses to figure out what that means. I pulled over and stopped.

The officer sauntered over, slowly the way they do, and I rolled down my window.

No “Good morning” or other niceties, just “License and registration.”

I handed over the precious documents and he walked back to his vehicle, no doubt to check and see if I was wanted on charges. After what seemed like a long time he came back, handed me my documents, and started to write on his pad.

“Officer, what did I do wrong?” I asked.

“You were exceeding the speed limit,” he said. “I clocked you at 70.”

That didn’t sound right to me, but I held my tongue, he handed me a citation, and I resumed my trip to retrieve the snore guard. “This is going to be an expensive night’s sleep,” I thought to myself.

A while later I got a notice in the mail telling me that I could pay the fine of $150 or request a hearing. I put the paper aside to think about it, and the more I did so the more I felt like I’d been entrapped. Whether I was or was not exceeding the speed limit wasn’t entirely clear to me, but it couldn’t have been by much. So, I decided to contest the ticket.

On the appointed day I showed up at the courthouse on Main Street in a picturesque Massachusetts town. I took my place on a bench outside the courtroom and waited for someone to call my name. Within a matter of minutes, I was facing the magistrate, with a police officer sitting at the prosecutor’s table. He wasn’t the one who had written me up on Route 2, but he had some papers in front of him and read off a version of what had happened. Nothing about the slow-down, let ‘em pass, blue-light that sucker, just that I had exceeded the speed limit.

Then it was my turn. I stood up to speak, and the magistrate said, “You don’t have to stand, you can sit.”

Without even thinking, I said, “I’m accustomed to standing in court.”

“Are you a lawyer?” he asked.

I admitted I was, thinking that would be the kiss of death.

“Case dismissed,” he announced.

Joseph D. Steinfield is a partner is the Boston law firm, Prince Lobel Tye LLP. He lives in Boston and Jaffrey.

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