Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Just doing the job ...

   "Afternoon sir. I'm Trooper Cox with the Missouri State Highway Patrol," the motorcycle cop said as he leaned into my already opened window. I had seen both he and his partner parked on the shoulder as I came down the hill on Interstate 44. Unfortunately, the prospect of two motorcycles didn't throw any warning bells in my mind until I noticed the blue uniforms that they were both wearing. By then, the only thing I could do was merge into the center lane and feign innocence. Didn't work, obviously.
   "My partner clocked you at 75-miles per hour coming down that hill and the limit is posted at 60. Is there any reason for the large difference there?" 
   Now how in the hell do you answer that question? I stared blankly as a million responses came to my mind ... 
I didn't see you in time to slow down any further?
Because I slowed down before cresting the hill, just in case?
Uh, no sprechen ze Inglis?
   What I finally settled on, I think, was something like "Because the speed limit is posted too low?" Of course, my sense of humor seems to get lost on most members of the Police, but at least this guy was extremely nice about it. He smiled as he asked to see my ID and proof of insurance.
   "15 miles over the posted limit, I'm going to have to write you a citation for that. I know that's not what you want to hear." he said. "However, I'll be as quick as I can and get you back on your way." With that, he walked back to his motorcycle and took a clipboard from his saddlebag. I spent the next several minutes looking through my glove box, the center console, wherever I could in the car so as to look busy and not meet the knowing gazes of the cars passing me along the highway. After all, they were the very ones that I had blown past several miles before and I just knew that they were poking their passengers in the ribs and pointing, "Look, that jerk got a ticket! Ha! Good for the Policeman!" 
   When the patrolman returned with my Goldenrod copy of the certificate of driving excellence, (I've got quite a collection of these, I must admit), I thanked him for his professionalism and courtesy. I asked if he had saddlebags on that bike and, as he said yes, I handed him a copy of my book, (I had already inscribed a message to him inside the cover telling him to be safe out there). I pointed out to him that I had already been issued the ticket so it wasn't a bribe in any way, but a gift of respect for the hard work that the State Patrol does, (and a showing of no hard feelings as he was simply doing his job. I was, after all, the one breaking the law). 
   Now, in case there is some law against patrolmen accepting gifts even after issuing a ticket, I'll not say whether he accepted the book or not. It's very possible that he informed me that he could not and therefore refused. Basically, this guy was a great Trooper, kind, courteous and truly seemed to be one of the good guys. I respect that and wouldn't want to accidentally cause him any trouble while trying to praise him for his actions. My point is, that in a society where cops, military and other persons of authority are all too often disrespected by the media and the public, I think it's important to shed some light on the good ones. Of course, he could have let me off with a warning, but then I don't think I'd have written this posting.
   As for the other drivers who I'm sure were laughing at me as they passed by? I waited until I was well out of the view of the good Patrolman and made it a point to catch and pass every last one of them. I even waved at a few who looked back at me with surprise ... just to show that there were no hard feelings.

All the best,


1 comment:

josh williams said...

I remember it well, even though it was a dozen years ago. I was driving home after a camp out trail ride in Kentucky. It was late so as I approached the Shelbyville exit on I-74 heading west towards Indy the Gumball light's lit up so I pulled off at the exit, leading the officer at least a mile so as not to pull off on the shoulder which is dangerous on any interstate. I had slowed, signaled, turned on my emergency lights (not sure how they work with turn signals, but its the thought that counts) and I think the officer appreciated the courtesy.
The first words out of the young troopers mouth were, "I'm not going to ticket you."
I swear on a case of cold sweet beer that this is true, but he did offer advice ask me some questions, I think he had time to run my plate as I hunted for the exit. There are some good ones, like any profession, there are some bad seeds. This gentleman was a good one, he would not last long on the mean streets of a big city with this attitude, but it was nice to be treated like a citizen.