Wednesday, July 24, 2013
I'm a fool
When I rolled up to the QuikStop in Hospers for an oil change last week, I stepped out of the Tracker, looked back, and saw flashing lights I swear I hadn't seen ten seconds earlier. The officer walking my way waved at me menacingly and told me to get back in, as if I might be toting drugs or wanted on some morals charge.
I hadn't even seen him, and there he was, lights flashing, right in front of QuikStop, which wouldn't be all bad except that place has something of a coffee shop inside where some fine Hospers philosophizing goes on, I'm told, if, that is, there's no ex-Dordt prof getting pulled over by a state cop. Then the good old boys inside got finer entertainment to hoot about.
This time there was just that, and my first thought was the guffaws from Hospers' sharpest wits rubber-necking out the front window.
"Didn't you see me?" the cop said when I was back in the Tracker, window down.
"Never," I told him.
Now the Tracker barely goes sixty, and my wife has been rolling her eyes lately at how slow I drive anyway. Couldn't have been speeding, I'm thinking. I probably rolled through the stop sign.
"You're not wearing your seat belt," the officer told me.
I looked down like Adam, pre-fig leaf. He was right.
Look, I know I'm a fool, but not wearing a seat belt on jaunts around the block is one of my last macho assertions. I grew up without seat belts, for pete's sake. Years ago, we used to chuck our two little squirts in the back of the station wagon with a half-dozen of their favorite toys and head off to Wisconsin, those sweet little honeys rolling around on a foam pad my mother-in-law covered in a bed sheet to turn the back of the station wagon into an all-day romper room. Today, that's child abuse.
Besides, I was in the Tracker, a car designed for Sunday School. You couldn't sin in that little thing if your heart was set on it.
He asked for all the relevant ID and headed back to his car, his red lights still flashing, even though we were nowhere near the road. I swear I could hear the yukking behind the window. It's not everyday, I'm sure, this much hilarity just falls in their ample laps. I hate being the butt of jokes, and it happens way too often these days.
"You know," the cop says, when he returns, "you think I like wearing this bullet-proof vest?" and he pulls at something stiff just beneath his clavicle. "I gotta wear it just in case--same as you and the seat belt."
Interesting visual aid, I'm thinking--just give me the warning and let me some save some smidgen of pride.
"Just this morning I had another one who didn't wear it," he said. "That's my least favorite part of this job."
And with that he hands me this document. It'll cost me $127.50, but I can take care of it on-line, he says, as if that's a blessing.
And then he's gone.
This morning, I'm going to take care of this on-line--all $127.50 worth. Call it a warning, but give it a sting.
I didn't think cops pulled a guy over simply for not wearing a seat belt, but probably for the rest of my life my pocketbook will remind me that they do. This one did--a guy named Dykstra, the state cop, a Dutch guy. Take my word for it--and this bill right here, top of the page, payable to Des Moines.
It's been on ever since--that seat belt. Not that it never was. If I go a distance, it goes on. Now, I put it on before I leave the garage, like my grandkids. "Buckle," they all told me when they were barely old enough to talk. "Buckle."
Go ahead, call me wimp. What little macho this old codger had left is next thing to gone, and I'm a hundred dollars-plus poorer. Then again, I'm better off than that other guy, the one he said he picked up that morning.
There's that too, I guess, Mr. Dykstra of the flashing lights.
But dang it!--back there in the QuikStop cafe, they're still howling. I can hear 'em. I swear.
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 7:07 AM