Pio “Bering” Beringuella
Wednesday, March 31, 1982; the day that I had to leave for San Francisco has arrived. It was not easy saying goodbye even after Sofia and I agreed for her to follow me to San Francisco.
It took months for her to arrange her travel; months that were unbearable for a man in love. Five months later she was on official government travel to San Francisco. The Consul met and escorted her through Immigration and Customs as was customary of diplomats.
I was anxious to get her familiar with life in America. Mid-way home from the airport, I let her behind the wheels. It turned out that it was her first time to drive. What made it worse was that my car had stick shift! Not bothering to think of the consequences if the police ever catch her driving without a license, I laughed innocently as she had a few stops and goes; and jerks up and down the hills. It didn’t take long before I noticed red and blue flashing lights behind us.
“Is there something wrong with your car?” The officer politely asked.
“I am teaching my girlfriend how to drive. She just arrived from Manila.” I said with a sense of confidence in my voice; maybe a little brag as Sofia looked so beautiful that evening.
The officer didn’t think that was funny.
“May I see your ID, driving permit, and car registration please?”
Sofia looked at me as she pulled out her passport. Realizing that Sofia had diplomatic immunity, the officer said, “Sir, I have to give you a citation for letting her use your car without a permit. May I have your driver license please?”
While waiting for the officer to come back from his patrol car, I told Sofia that all I needed to do was to pay the fine. Everything will be alright.
And so I thought until I went to the Court to pay the fine. I was told to appear in court.
“Why would I have to appear in court? I am pleading guilty and I want to pay the fine.”
“Your citation is under special circumstances.”
“How do you plead?” the Judge asked at the hearing.
“I plead guilty your honor.”
“It is your first offense. You have no previous record in this court. I am giving you a 25% reduction in your fine. Your fine is forty dollars plus thirty dollars in court fees.
It took a little over a minute but it was expensive! It was the first of a series of expenses that does not seem to end to today now that we are married for over a quarter of a century.
Who said love is free?!