This is not the way you want to start out a vacation…

Fortunately for me, years ago I purchased the book A Speeder’s Guide to Avoiding Tickets by James M. Eagan and some of the things I learned in that book helped me get out of yet another ticket. I didn’t read the whole book; I mean how much is there to learn about not getting a speeding ticket, right? So I just skimmed it and let me tell you, as absurd as the title may sound, I believe I have saved hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in tickets for moving violations and subsequent insurance surcharges from what I learned in this book.

What I learned in the book had a lot to do with the psychology of the police officer when he pulls you over. Being a student of psychology in the market, I was I am always intrigued by how others think in different situations and understanding the psychology of a cop and using that information my advantage is an appealing thought, I like the feeling of getting away with something, not in a criminal way, but in a mischievous way….hehehehe.

I wasn’t 30 miles into my vacation when I noticed a cop parked at the side of the road. I have the tendency to drive faster than the suggested limits so I instinctively eased off the gas, but it was too late, he locked me in on his radar and I knew I was going to get pulled over. I told my wife and two boys that it looked like we were going to get pulled over and after getting teased by the boys and glared at by my wife I saw the blue lights flashing in my rear view mirror. Damn! I knew it was time to think about what I read in that book years ago and put a plan into action.

As soon as I knew it was me he was after, I put my right turn signal on and left it blinking until I found a nice wide pullout at the side of the road that I could pull into, that was part one of the plan. I could have pulled 5 or ten feet off the road, but instead, I pulled WAY over, about 30 feet off the side of the road. You see, one of the biggest fears that cops apparently have is that some jackass will be driving too far to the right shoulder and run into the officer while he is busy summoning the vehicle he has pulled over. In order to get the cop to drop his guard and get him on my side I wanted to alleviate that fear and the further I was able to get away from traffic, the less he had to worry about, score one for me.

When I pulled over, I angled the car so he could see me as he approached; I also had the window down and my hands on the wheel where he could see them. These were all deliberate moves designed to further comfort the cop and get him to drop his guard so he would be in a good mood when he approached the vehicle. By letting the cop see into the car, he could assess the situation as to how many people were in the vehicle and view our overall demeanor; he saw a family headed on vacation, not usually a threatening situation. Putting the window down gave him further access to view me and determine if it looked like I might be trouble for him. If it had been night time I would have turned on all the interior lights so he could observe us easier. Putting my hands on the wheel showed him that I wasn’t up to anything and that also makes the cop feel at ease, these small actions helped me put the situation in my control.

As the cop approached me I knew from numerous past experiences that he would ask for my license, registration and proof of insurance, but I waited for him to ask for them until I made an effort to retrieve any of them. After asking me for these items, I told him that the license was in my wallet which was located in my pocket which I was going to reach for. It sounds like too much detail, but telling the cop what you are about to do leaves no room for unexpected moves and puts him at ease because he feels like he is in control, the truth is I have all the control at this point. I repeated the same process as I told him where the registration and insurance documents were.

As I retrieved the documents he asked me if I knew how fast I was going. This is a very important part of the interaction and where you can score big points if you do it right. I told him I thought I was going about 65mph and he responded by telling me he had locked me on his radar at 67mph. He then offered to let me see his radar gun to verify his reading, I told him that was unnecessary as it was close to what I thought my speed was and I was sure he had good equipment. At this point he was probably testing to see if I was going to attempt to bullshit him about what my speed was. By telling the truth and not disrespecting him and his professionalism I scored more points that would help me get out of the ticket. He then asked me if I knew what the speed limit was and I responded truthfully by telling him I did not know. When he told me the speed limit was 45 mph I made a shocked face (don’t overact here, it could ruin all your hard work to this point) and said I just wasn’t paying attention, then I shut up. This is where you can do irreversible damage if you talk too much or make up a lie which they are likely to have already heard anyway. He said he was going back to his car and to sit tight

When he came back he told me that the speed I was going could result in a $165 ticket and six points on my insurance. If I reacted by saying “just give me the damn ticket and let me go enjoy my vacation” or something else stupid I would have reversed the ground work I had already laid. Instead, I responded with an “Ohmygosh!” which further made me look like a dope in need of a break. He looked at me very seriously and said something like this, “Mr. Shannon, it looks like you and your family are headed on vacation and I realize you may be anxious about getting to your destination, but you have to slow down and be more observant about the speed limit. I am going to give you a warning today and hope that you will observe the speed limits and slow down.” YES!!! I won. I gave him a genuine smile and thanked him for his understanding and that I would definitely slow down. And I did slow down, for at least the next 10 miles…..

So what does this have to do with the stock market? Plan your trades and trade your plan. The market will often throw you unexpected surprises and you have to have a backup plan for dealing with them. A stop will help you gracefully exit a position before it turns into a disaster and having a thought out plan for unexpected situations puts you in control of those events when less prepared individuals will fall flat on their faces. I have been extremely fortunate when I get pulled over; I haven’t received a ticket in the last 10 or so times. I am not defiant and I do not disrespect cops, I just enjoy driving fast. When there are people whose jobs it is to make sure people observe the speed limits my penchant for fast driving is a weakness. I have been able to turn that weakness into strength by having a plan. If you are selling your winners to early or failing to cut losers, you need to work on those market weaknesses and develop a plan of action which will turn the odds in your favor.