I can’t drive 25!

By Steve Moseley, contributing columnist
Apologies to Sammy Hagar for skewing the title of his 1984 rock hit ‘I Can’t Drive 55!’ recorded when the national speed limit was set at 55 on all highways in the face of a gas crisis. Mercifully, the torturous law was short-lived, though the thought of it still sparks fear nearly four decades hence.
The incident around which this sorry tale is wrapped dates much more recently. Just last month, in fact.
First perhaps, a bit of background.
I like to go fast. Always have. Whether a skateboard in the 60s (yes, though primitive we had them), bicycle, motorcycle, boat or automobile matters not. I don’t run wide open to show off, quite the contrary. If I feel the need for speed, I make certain no other vehicles are anywhere in sight. I do this to (1) not endanger innocent bystanders or fellow motorists and (2) minimize the chances of getting caught.
But as bad luck would have it, sometimes I do. Get caught, that is.
In this most recent of two times a speeding ticket has born my name at the top in greater metropolitan York, I was driving south on north Blackburn Avenue through a tree-shaded, sleepy residential neighborhood. But not for long.
Approaching an intersection, I became aware of a police officer on foot aiming an odd-looking gun with some funny lights at me. Even before realization fully dawned that I had been ambushed, the fellow pointed directly at me (there could be no mistake, we were the only ones in view), then to where I should park.
I did exactly that, rolled down my window and set about gathering license and registration, now fully cognizant of what was to come.
The youngest looking policeman I have seen in my soon-to-be 74 years made his way to my window and politely inquired whether or not I was aware of the speed limit on that street. I answered, “apparently not” in light of the attention he was showing me.
He allowed as how the limit was 25 miles-per-hour. I declined to argue. My standard response in all contacts with police officers whose red lights are flashing is to look sheepish, shrug, say something to the tune of “stick a fork in me, I’m done. Do what ya gotta do” and take my medicine without drama.
I know some folks take it personal, then go all aggressive and confrontational over a traffic stop. I am not one of those folks because even dim-witted old Mose understands a strategy of verbal abuse and derision directed at the guy or lady holding all the cards and packing a sidearm to boot is unlikely to produce a happy outcome.
So, I complied without comment or excuse. Even bantered with the officer, who was the perfect gentleman, and accepted my self-inflicted fate with a smile.
Now we come to the punchline.
That afternoon I had been to the VA in Grand Island for a medical appointment. I ran a quick errand upon arriving back on the north side of town, then realized – if I hustled – I could still make it home in time for Jeopardy! at 4:30. The one thing Good Wife Norma and I still reliably share after 50-plus years married is our mutual passion for that show and only that show. Otherwise, it’s HGTV 24-7 for her and anything but HGTV for me.
I laughed about the irony of this while explaining my motivation for speeding to the officer; just a give-out old poop Jonesin for his daily fix of Jeopardy! He laughed with me, said thanks “for being so cordial about this. It makes my job much easier,” waved and strolled back into the concealing shade of his clandestine corner.
And that’s how I learned placing myself in Jeopardy! is almost never going to be a good idea.
The joke’s on him, though. Still got home in time for Double Jeopardy! and Final Jeopardy! … at 25 per.

 

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