Saturday, November 13, 2004

Sincerely yours

Sincerely Yours

I’m on my way from Lexington, KY to Lawrence, KS. It’s two p.m. and I’ve been driving westward steadily since five a.m. except for a two-hour stop in Paducah.

I’m on I-70 a few miles north of Jefferson City. It’s time for a cigarette, so I light one.

And now I see flashing lights in my rearview mirror. I jerk the Cadillac onto the shoulder of the highway and stop so rapidly the tires almost screech.

In the side mirror I watch her. So cute in her Missouri Highway Patrol uniform. Short brown hair, blue eyes. I lower the window and she smiles and mumbles something but her words are drowned in the roar of the passing traffic.

“I’m deaf,” I tell her, and I hand her my Hawaii driver’s license and the Registration Certificate for this 1988 Cadillac that Ralph lent me. With effective sign language she tells me to get out of the car and I still can’t understand what she says, so she invites me into her patrol car. Cars, busses, and huge trucks continue to zoom past us, creating a deafening roar in my hearing aid.

“But you’ll have to get rid of that cigarette,” she says, eyeing my freshly lit Lucky Strike.

I flip the Lucky out into the waving Missouri grass and get into the Patrol car.

The digital read-out on her Radar machine says “83,” and I figure that must have been my speed. Only eight miles over the posted 75-mph limit.

“Nobody seems to pay much attention to the speed limit,” I comment, and she says, with a giggle, “I do.”

She talks into her radio, which responds immediately, repeating the license number on Ralph’s car. “... to a Ralph W. Parker, 501 W Moana Lane, Reno, NV no wants or warrants.”

I explain, as usual, the anomaly of my Hawaii driver’s license and ... “Did you stop me because it’s a Cadillac, or because of the Nevada plates, or because I wasn’t keeping up with the flow of traffic?” I ask.

She giggles and says, “It’s sort of random. What do you do?”

I tell her I’m a retired teacher and writer and former Police Dispatcher in Fort Collins, Colorado.

“Pretty place,” she says. She starts filling out a form.

“I sincerely hope you’re not going to give me a ticket,” I say, and she giggles again.


The word seems to tickle her.

“Yes, sincerely! You are in a position to give me three tickets, and any one of them could ruin my whole beautiful day.”

“THREE tickets????” she protests.

“Right! Three tickets. One for speeding, another for not using my turn signal when I pulled onto the shoulder, and another for littering.”

She’s giggling so hard she has trouble speaking.

“Look,” she finally is able to say. “I’m just giving you a Warning, and it won’t affect you.”

“Whaddaya mean ‘it won’t affect me’?”

“It won’t go on your driving record.”

“Well it certainly WILL affect me! It will make me drive even slower from now on. At least until I get out of Missouri!”

She giggles again, and she lets me go. And I thank her. Very sincerely.

I take the next exit and fill the gas tank in Fulton. Returning toward the Interstate I see her again. She’s writing a ticket to the driver of a huge semi. Maybe that trucker wasn’t sincere enough!



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