full of, characterized by, or due to zeal; ardently active, devoted, or diligent.
That word best describes the Nebraska highway patrolman I encountered on the final leg of our long perilous journey home from Arizona.
After deciding to stay an extra night in our New Mexico Super 8 storm home..we cautiously coaxed Big Red onto Interstate 40, bound for Oklahoma City. The temperature outside was 10 below zero. The first hundred miles or so justified our caution. Hundreds of 18 wheelers had managed to create two dry trails in the driving lane but the passing lane was not fit for anyone but fools. Venturing over there was suicide but, sure enough, as I’m safely tucked in behind a semi doing 40 miles per hour, somebody in a small SUV, came charging past us kicking up little chunks of ice as he sped by. “Well, we’ll see him upside down in the ditch soon,” both Linda and I said in unison. But we never did and by the time we approached Santa Rosa, the dry spots on the highway had grown wider and by the time we arrived in Amarillo..it was all clear with a temperature of a balmy 8 degrees. Even going through Oklahoma City, where they’d gotten a foot of snow, was a breeze thanks to the freshly plowed toll road by-pass. We made it all the way to Wichita before calling it a night. Next morning, we were greeted by temps in the teens and a southerly breeze for a change. When we finally crossed the border into Nebraska, Linda and I gave each other a high five; we’re getting close now!
There are several small towns along that stretch of Highway 81. The only way you can even tell it’s a town is because of the 55 mile an hour speed limit signs. I had been lifting off the gas for each one of them..slowing to at least 60 (believing cops allow a 5 mph fudge factor) and wondering why it was necessary to slow down for every old grain elevator and abandoned gas station. Then, with Interstate 80 almost in sight, I passed through another dilapidated little berg off to the side of the road. It was posted 55 but this time I just kept goin’. That’s when I was blinded by the colorful strobe lights in my rear view mirror that came out of no where.
So there I sat like a whipped puppy waiting for the patrolman to run all the license plate information before making that slow walk to my window. He needed to make sure I wasn’t some criminal who might be packing heat or I could be a smuggler and the reason my big old car was riding so low is because the trunk was loaded with illegal aliens instead of a bunch of suit cases, dirty clothes and cans of soup and vegetables which had frozen solid the night before. “Good afternoon. Can I see your license, registration and proof in insurance, please?” Oh god..I always save the registration when I put on the new plates..where is it? Here, Linda said after going through the glove compartment. Our insurance card..where’s our insurance card? I don’t think we got the latest one from State Farm before we left.
“Did you not see any of the eight 55 mile an hour signs posted back there?” the trooper asked sarcastically. “Guess not,” I said. “We’ve been on the road a long time and anxious to get home.” That clearly didn’t buy any sympathy. “Well, you keep looking for that insurance card and I’ll be right back.” As he returned to his blinking cruiser we frantically went through everything..but no card.
Suddenly, Broderick Crawford is back at my window. “Uh, Mr. Lund you were doing 68 in a 55. That’s going to run you 75 dollars plus court costs for a total of 125 dollars. You can appear back here in person or send it in. As for the insurance, we’ll give you ten days to have a local police officer verify that you’re covered and sign this form. Now, I need you to put your signature by the X on all three pages and you can be on your way.”
During the time we were sitting there, I don’t think six cars passed from either direction. “It’s just a damn speed trap to make money off of dumb schlubs like us,” I whispered to Linda as I handed the paperwork back through the window. “Be careful now, have a nice day.” I wanted to scream..listen pally, you’ve ruined any possibility of that with you’re your little toll road here. I hope you choke on the money you get for exceeding your monthly quota. But I kept a cold silence while Linda leaned over as we’re pulling away and said “Thank You.” “Thank you?” I said..you’re telling the guy who just picked our pocket for 125 bucks thank you?” “He’s just doing his job, getting mad isn’t going to help,” she said.
That, you see, is the difference between her and I. Linda is a good person inside and out..all the time. Me..not so much.
But it is good to be home. I made out checks to pay the bills this morning..a couple days past due because of our being stranded. I’m going to try hard to muster an understanding attitude when next month’s bills arrive and include late fees. They’re just doing their job..heh, heh, heh.