It was a Monday morning so I naturally didn’t have a joyful spirit, similar to how I am on all the other days of the week. As if getting out the door wasn’t awful enough, as I started the car, I saw that I’d forgotten to gas it on Friday so it would be ready for the next week. Knowing I’d be late if I stopped to fuel, I instead grabbed my backhoe-bucket-sized purse and took the truck.
Driving down the highway I had the cruise set at 70 because to me that’s perfectly acceptable in a 70-mph zone. Soon, I looked in my rearview mirror and what to my wondering eyes should appear but flashing lights. I was immediately in a worse mood than I’d started in earlier, which was pretty tough to beat. The officer told me I was speeding and had clocked me doing 77. Amazingly enough, he not only didn’t seem to take any pleasure in it, but he also didn’t seem to appreciate it when I told him he was full of stuffing, because I’d had my cruise set. He bit his lip, then bent and examined my front tire and said he thought I had slightly larger than factory tires and that would account for the discrepancy. He asked if I’d like him to get a measuring tape to see how big the tires were so I could configure my speed accordingly? I gave him what I thought was a blank stare but he took it as a cold one. He then said, “You don’t appear to like me very much.”
I explained that I didn’t really have a love affair going with any highway patrolman, mostly because they don’t produce or create anything, but instead are tax collectors. Now it was his turn to not like me. I felt this was fair. He told me he’d been doing his job for 14 years and had done helpful things, like once he saved a baby and, just recently, had helped a guy change a tire, and in order for me to get a better feel for what he did for a living, I should ride with him sometime. I asked if he was propositioning me, which I’m certain he was, because who wouldn’t want a snuggle from an old, ill-tempered, chubby woman with smudged mascara, hairy legs and a mustache?
I told him that actually he should ride with me. It was his turn to give a blank stare. I said, “I do caregiving for a living and, amazingly enough, people are very happy to see me. They know I’m going to somehow make their life easier by bathing them, doing chores, carting them to appointments and/or lifting the burdens of their daily woes for a few hours.” When he didn’t respond I said, “Maybe I’m confused. Are people tickled to see you? I mean, surely the child’s mother was grateful, as was the person with the flat tire, and I’m not belittling either of those moments, but really, you’ve done two good deeds in 14 years? I’m talking about: do people on a daily basis light up and shriek with joy at seeing you? Are they throwing their arms around your neck in gratitude? Are they telling you that life is better with you in it? I mean, if so, forgive me for giving you the impression your job isn’t worthy.” For some reason he didn’t give me a ticket. Maybe because he knew for sure I’d be at the court date and then he’d have to be there too.
That evening when our daughter called I told her about my day. She laughed a little then in a serious tone said, “Mama, really? When I’m stopped for anything, I’m always so nervous I always feel like bursting into tears; I don’t, but I want to.”
I asked if she thought I was too hard on the patrolman and she replied, “Well, you were a little on the dark side.” I countered, “First of all, I wasn’t going 77 and didn’t appreciate being harassed. Second, I only gave him my thoughts. You act like I delivered him one of my home-cooked meals, which we all know would be far worse.”
Sighing, she relented, tongue in cheek, “Ya, he doesn’t know how blessed he is. He could be recovering in bed from your cooking, but he skimmed by with a mere lecture, plus you got to drive another day. I think you both got off easy.”
Trena Eiden, email@example.com