Blinded By The Lights

Posted: Friday, February 4, 2011 at 4:02 pm
By: Doug Lund
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highway patrol crawford

zeal·ous

–adjective

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.  

BUSTED!

If you're lost by the earlier Broderick Crawford reference, ask your parents.

If you're lost by the Broderick Crawford reference, ask your parents.

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.

CRAP. 

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.

27 Comments

  1. Kevin says:

    Are you not a big Huskers “FAN’. Where is all your love for the Husker state now??? Just think of it as a donation…..

  2. hardass says:

    doug….what makes you think that 13 over should get you a free pass?….gol darnit i have never had a speeding ticket in 46 years of driving..i do not speed….that money would pay for a lot of old milwaukee….heavy……in case you ever want to get me something i would remember…..now about your driving……i think i speak for all your friends and fans that we want you to be safer when you drive from now on, and to keep your lovely wife safer….now that being said ….you and i both know that the only person from here that gets a free pass from a policeman every time he is stopped is myron lee….HEY!!!!!! you should have said you knew him!!!!!….worth a try?

  3. grouse says:

    Let’s see…That Red Coyotes cap cost you two extra nights motel fees due to the yearly blizzard it causes between SD and AZ, plus the additional restaurant expense….That’s at least $200 (conservatively)….Then you add another $125 for trying to make up for lost time…..Totaling at least $325! That cap is of the devil! You need to perform a Norske exorcism on it. If memory serves me correctly, you should take the cap outside to the driveway….If no one is about, you should take a leak on it, then douse it with gasoline! For the finale, say the Lord’s prayer 12 times, then throw a match on top of the cap! The flames will set you free! Next year, when the curse is lifted, you can drive to AZ and back in warm sunshine in shorts, and the rest of your fellow citizens can have a nice winter too.

  4. tswartos says:

    or just fly and have a lovely hunk of junk down there, be waaaayyy cheaper. Or come t FL

  5. GMAX09 says:

    I think you should consider all the times you’ve been speeding when you didn’t get caught and divide the $125 by that number and I think you’ll find out you got off cheap!

    Grouse, your Norske exocism sounds like it would cure about anything – suppose it would make my too tight pants fit better?

  6. Jamie says:

    I feel for you 100%, Iowa state troopers have been sitting right over the border lately busting South Dakotans for windows tinted too dark, because it’s legal to have windows tinted darker here than there… I got a $127 ticket a couple months back for it and was late on my mortgage because of it. My aunt is a dispatcher in the small town in Iowa I was headed to that day and confirmed that they’ve been targeting South Dakota drivers just for that. Hard to be a “good person inside and out” when it’s a money trap!

  7. Susan says:

    I guess I don’t feel sorry for anyone who gets a speeding ticket. I have been driving for 40 years plus and never received one yet. When it says 55 that is the speed you drive. I guess I always think that if it was a town my grandchild or your grandchild lived in and they were crossing the road I would want someone who is driving to go the speed limit!! Just think of your grandchildren the next time you feel like speeding.

  8. hardass says:

    well, doug, for that kind of money, on ebay, you can get a fuzzbuster…..then give her heck

  9. Hemmingsen says:

    Better explain who Broderick Crawford was. 10-4, Dan Matthews.

  10. Hemmingsen says:

    Besides starring in Highway Patrol on very early TV, Crawford won an Oscar for playing Bill Jan…er, Willie Stark…in All The King’s Men.

  11. Hemmingsen says:

    That would be fictional Louisiana Governor Willie Stark, not to be confused with politically ruthless Governor/Senator Huey Long.

  12. Per Pål P says:

    Nå har du komme hjem—-borte bra men hjemme best… Velkommen tilbake…You had a great trip…but, remember…hastverk er lastverk (haste makes waste) Per Pål

  13. Nancy says:

    Sorry about your bad luck returning home. Hope thats the last of it for this year. I really enjoy reading your stories. I also miss Mr. Hemmingsens stories.

  14. Don says:

    Crawford also played Matt Dillon, U.S. Marshall on “Gun Smoke,” but only on radio.

  15. LeAnn says:

    I still think you should go Allegiant Non-Stop, and rent a car. It will probably be cheaper and less hassle than driving.

  16. Dave says:

    Uff da. I can sympathize with Doug Lund’s story… have had my pocket “picked” a few times via speeding tickets – now I stay closer to the speed limit (as Doug says, the “fudge factor”). By far THE most infuriating ticket I got was being pulled over for going 43 in a 40 zone in Madison, SD – just yards away from turning off SD34 into the Super 8 lot! The most amusing ticket (pricewise) was when I was visiting a friend in ND – I got nabbed for going 68 in a 55 zone – but the county mounty gave me a break and and wrote me up at 65 mph. I had to chuckle when I got back to the hotel and saw the fine. $10. TEN dollars. But still, it was an inconvenience and a reminder to know and stay close to the speed limit!

  17. grouse says:

    Hello GMAX09….Yes, the Norske exorcism works on just about everything, but in the case of too tight pants, I’ve found from personal experience that instead of reciting the Lord’s Prayer 12 times, it’s best to recite the Norwegian Table Prayer 12 times. Then you pour gas on the demon possessed too tight pants and go out and buy some pants just a scooch larger that haven’t in to the devil and all his works and all his ways. Hope this helps.

  18. Per Pål P says:

    Jaaa…Jaaa…Jaaa Grouse….You are absolut right….But, GMAX09…You might need to consider your diet….you’re probably eating things like fruits and veggies….98% lean meats….drinking skim melk etc….Your body is just simply turning those things into fat…Your body is most likely craving some gude norshing mat…like Lutefisk with lots of melted butter….lefse with butter and sugar….Fattigmann…fried in REAL grease…gammeløst…fløtbrød…rømmegråt–made with real fresh cream and served with plenty of butter and sugar and a little cinnamon….And then the “water of life”…aquavit…. Just a thought! Per Pål

  19. Doug Lund says:

    Don. It was actually William Conrad who played Matt Dillon on the radio version of Gunsmoke. Producers thought he was too short and fat to play a lawman on TV. But Conrad got the last laugh when he was chosen to portray Detective Frank Cannon on the TV series Cannon, which ran for five seasons on CBS in the early seventies.

  20. michael says:

    Just don’t forget to pay that ticket, Doug. I forgot about the $175 speeding ticket I got in Nevada a couple summers ago. I was reminded of it when a Sioux Falls traffic cop pulled me over for expired tags six months later. That Nevada ticket had grown to $578 by then–and also required a court appearance. No fun!

  21. dennisgene says:

    I go to oklahoma a couple of times a year and I take highway 81. I am always releived to get through Nebraska. I see speed limit signs that say 55 miles an hour and nothing is within a couple of miles from the highway. I figure they are speed traps so I always slow down to 55. But it irrates me.

  22. Scottish Goldfish says:

    Cruise control is a wonderful invention, but I still have to remember to watch for those “blink and you miss it” towns with their poky speed limits. On a trip I took in another century, my speedometer quit working. I used the stopwatch function on my $2.00 watch to calculate the speed of the car I was following, adjusting my speed to approximately the limit of the moment (no cruise control in that car). About 1500 miles into the speedometerless part of the trip, approaching Omaha but still in Iowa, I noticed a reduction in speed limit. I slowed down. The guy I was following didn’t. Very soon, I came over the top of a hill to see the guy I’d been following sitting along the side of the road with a car with flashing lights behind. Sorry, but I found it necessary to chuckle at his misfortune.

  23. Hemmingsen says:

    I never heard that he played Gunsmoke. I believe you’re confusing him with William Conrad, not to be confused with Robert Conrad. Are any of you watching the PBS series Pioneers of Television? You should see what these folks look like now. But the mirror of time ain’t too kind to any of us.

  24. Sas says:

    Just a money maker – pure and simple. They don’t care about safety – they are just mobile IRS agents for governments that can’t control their spending!!! I like these small towns that move their speed limits signs way out of town so they can trap you coming in too fast way outside of town or speeding up too quickly leaving. The signs are out so far it is ridiculous, and in no way could be unsafe – just perfect speed traps!

  25. JD says:

    The Scottish Goldfish with his $2 stopwatch probably already knows this – Divide 3600 by the number of seconds it takes to travel one mile. That’s your speed in MPH.

  26. Sweeps says:

    Oh, gosh. Bennderedundat. I dutifully slowed down to the prescribed FORTY-FIVE mph going through a tiny central SD town a few years ago, but I made the mistake of resuming the cruise just past the T-intersection in town (2 blocks ahead of the higher speed limit sign), and of course my speed shot up to over the speed limit almost as soon as I resumed it. The local sheriff caught me, and graciously knocked 5 mph off the ticket he gave me. Otherwise, I’d have had to go to court instead of sending in the $90 check (at a time when I could least afford it). I told some choir friends about it, and the school district’s business manager chuckled and said “that county really needs it for their schools.” HEY! I think I’ve hit on the solution! If everyone speeds on the highways and lo-ways, maybe school funding wouldn’t be such a problem!! No? Oh well, it’s a thought! (Welcome home, BTW!)

  27. Bud Sluter says:

    DOUG, IT SOUNDS AS IF YOU NEED A CHECK LIST BEFORE YOUR NEXT TRIP TO AZ. AS YOU START PLANNIBG, FIRST CHECK THE INSIDE JACKET POCKET OF YOUR SPORTS JACKET AND REMOVE THE 2 ROUND TRIP PLANE TICKETS. IF YOU DON’T FIND THEM, I GIVE UP. YOU ARE A HOPELESS CASE.

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