Posted 5/09/12 (Wed)
Do you remember that scene in “Rainman,” when Dustin Hoffman is telling Tom Cruise, “I am an excellent driver?” That would be me. I am an excellent driver.
I suppose there are those that would question that. I had a head-on collision with a grain truck when I was in my early teens. At the elevator, going 5 mph, no injuries. Just out of high school, I rolled a car. I tipped a pickup over in a washout full of water, no injuries. I’ve hit deer, cattle, horses, and some inanimate objects. I tore the fenders off of a couple of pickups last year.
But all in all, I am a very good driver. I don’t speed. I don’t pass on the yellow line. In fact, I very seldom pass at all. Reminds me of when I bought an old classic Cadillac at a farm auction about 10 years ago. I told the owner I wouldn’t drive by many girls driving that Caddy. He said, “Don’t drive by any gas stations either!”
Anyway, Shirley always scolds me because I stop when I see an orange light. She assures me I could have made it, and in Dickinson, it has taken decades to get the lights set right. I have a friend who said, “They finally got the lights synchronized. You can hit them all green if you go nine or 90!” You can drive across Amarillo, Texas, and hit green lights all the way. The Minnesota Twins have a better chance of winning than you do of hitting two green lights in a row, in Dickinson.
Well, last week I fueled up the ranch pickup to head north and check cows. Ranch pickups are old and sometimes have faults. Like no tabs, turning signals, or brakes. The windows are cracked and the muffler is torn off. The bumper is held on by barbed wire and there is a rifle and a six-pack on the seat, and maybe a square bottle under the seat.
Well, I fueled up and a patrolman pulled up behind me as I sat at the light to get on Highway 22. It was like I was in high school. I panicked and thought of jumping out and running. But I didn’t. I just sat there and a cold sweat broke out. I was wondering if my blinker worked. I was wondering if I had license tabs on the pickup. I pulled out and started north. He was right alongside of me.
The sweat was running in my eyes and I was trying to nonchalantly buckle my seat belt. Someone sent me a text. It made me jump. My phone beeped again, and I nearly went into cardiac arrest. We were approaching a light. It was green. My phone started to ring! The light turned orange. The patrolman stopped at the light. The phone was ringing, my seat belt was tangled, and I stomped on it and went through the orange light. Well, orange for a ways. Then bright red before I could get through the intersection.
The pickup had mirrors and I saw the red light come on. Message to self: Don’t run lights in front of policeman. The patrolman approached cautiously. He was a smart looking, recent graduate of the Law Enforcement Academy. Evidently, he didn’t know who I was. I told him, “I hate to argue with you, but the light was orange when I entered the intersection.” He informed me that I had accelerated through the red light, and if I had time to accelerate, I had time to brake. A couple of whacks with the billy club and I believed him.
I pleaded guilty and slid my bottle back under the seat with the foot that should have hit the brakes.