by Rick Jones, Husband of the Minister's Wife
Back in my high school days, when the bypass was being constructed near our town, it was easy to see that the new route would cut a couple of miles off travel to the town north of us. For a few months, when that section of the road was drivable but the new highway was not completely finished, local motorists found that if one simply went around the “local traffic only” signs, it resulted in a fast, smooth ride and saved a couple of minutes. The access was really meant for short distances, not 10 miles, but who's counting? And since President Carter's well-intentioned but oh-so-slow 55 MPH speed limit signs weren't up yet, if someone drove a bit faster, who really cared?
The state police, that's who. The road still had no signs or lane markings and the shoulder work was incomplete. So while they weren't hard-nosed about it, they discouraged long distance drivers and people who felt “the need for speed”.
Very few policemen are violent, power-hungry and evil, despite what we hear from many people on the news these days. One of the calmest and most reasonable men in our local church was a state trooper. In fact, several of the people at that same church had been warned about the misuse of the highway by Jerry – with no hard feelings from either party, and no “reminders” of the incident when he met them while off the clock.
Maybe it's because he was so nice that the following incident occurred.
Dora was cruising down the “short cut” one sunny Thursday afternoon when she saw the police car zooming up behind her. It pulled alongside her vehicle and the officer waved. She wasn't worried, since she knew Jerry was just being friendly. She waved back, and nodded her head so he'd know she'd been reprimanded, then looked back at the road.
She was surprised when Jerry made a short burst with his siren and waved again, staying even with her car. He wanted to race? She sped up, laughing. She was surprised when the police car's siren blared and the lights flashed! This wasn't amusing, because now Jerry's little game was taking up her valuable time. Pulling over, she waited while the trooper left his car and approached her vehicle. He leaned down, looked in the window, and said, “Just what do you think you're doing?”
At which time Dora learned that this wasn't Jerry.
Dora now knew how it felt to be the star of I Love Lucy when Ricky Ricardo said, “Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do . . .”
Turns out that the officer was waving for her to pull over so he tell her about the burned out tail light on her car, but her reaction – waving and then speeding away – clearly qualified as suspicious behavior. Dora “ 'splained” well enough and apologized profusely enough that the officer let her off with a warning. Like I said, there are plenty of friendly and reasonable policemen.
Dora didn't talk about the incident. But that trooper saw Jerry at shift's end, and regaled him with the story. When Jerry got home, he told it to his family. His daughter was in the same class that I was at school, so we all heard it the next day. Our families heard it that night at supper. Remember, I lived in a small town; since no one had set a record for cow tipping lately and there was no new graffiti on the water tower, this was big news.
Three days later, Dora walked into church Sunday morning. She had no idea why the crowd in the foyer grew strangely silent. Then she noticed Jerry across the room, staring at her and wearing a big silly grin. She realized that HE KNEW, and began to turn red. Then she saw that everyone else around her was staring and grinning, too. She realized that THEY ALL KNEW and turned as red as the recently repaired tail light on her “dragster”.
It could have been worse. The pastor could have chosen to quote Numbers 32:23, “be sure your sin will find you out”.
I'm not sure Dora ever used the highway again . . . even when it was completed.