So, it was with a heavy heart and 20 dozen tamales packed in styrofoam coolers that I left Midland, on my way to Mom’s house in Indianapolis to pick up my cat and part with some of my beloved tamales before the short jaunt from there back to Ohio. I was a bit concerned that I was leaving several hours later than I had planned and that shortly after awakening I felt as though I hadn’t had enough sleep. No worries, though; after all, sleep is for sissies!
Having renewed my vow never to return to the state of Oklahoma, my chosen return route was; Fort Worth, Dallas, Texarkana, Little Rock, West Memphis, then north along the Mississipi river on I-55, across the SE corner of Missouri, to I-57 into and across Illinois, to I-70, then through Terre Haute, and on to Indianapolis.
I was quickly approaching Fort Worth and making very good time. A group of trucks seemed a little too eager to move aside and let me pass, but I chose to ignore the alarm that this sounded in the back of my mind. A little while later, I’m about 5 miles west of Ranger, Texas (Not to be confused with “Walker, Texas Ranger”, the worst TV show ever made. Well one of them, anyway.) when I crest a small rise while passing another group of slower traffic. As soon as I come over the top of the hill, “Shit!” the median just ahead comes to life with headlights and flashing blue lights. I glance at the speedometer, which is now swinging down toward 80 (the posted limit was 65) as I signal my lane change back to the right, frantically hoping it’s not me he’s after. Alas, there is no one else, it has to be me. I’m filled with a heart-pumping, sick to my stomach rush of adrenaline, but I can’t help smiling just a bit as my mind replays the tape of Johhny Depp as Hunter S. Thompson in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” saying:
Few people understand the psychology of dealing with a highway traffic cop. Your normal speeder will immediately panic and pull over to the side. This is wrong. It arouses contempt in the cop heart. Make the bastard chase you, he will follow.
Ignoring the good Doctor’s words, I immediately panicked and pulled to the side. Texas Highway Patrol officers don’t mince words, as soon as he stepped up to the passenger’s side window he told me who he was and why was stopping me.
Texas Highway Patrol. I pulled you over for exceeding the posted speed limit.
Of course, I’m very contrite and apologetic, explaining that I’ve had to leave my father, who’s very ill, back in Midland and that I guess I was a little distracted and got to going faster than I intended. You know, basically pleading for mercy without coming right and begging (and not really expecting it to work). He asks for my license and proof of insurance. I promptly hand over my license but can only find expired insurance cards. He suggests I continue to look while he checks my license. When he reapproaches the window he asks, “Did you find that?”
“Yes sir, it’s right here”, I reply, shakily handing the current insurance card over.
He glances at it, hands it back, then reaches back in with the dreaded pad and pen. I am positively dumbstruck as he tells me that he’s giving me a written warning, I feel as though I’m having some sort of out of body experience. I sign where he tells me, and hand it back saying, “Thank you, officer.” I’ve never uttered those words with more conviction in my life… I really meant it.
He tells me to be safe and keep my speed down, then sends me on my way.
I’m not sure if it was divine intervention, mercy on his part, or dumb luck (perhaps brought on by the figure of Señor Misterioso glowing atop my dashboard), to which I owe this good fortune, but believe you me, I am immensely grateful and thankful.