The River Journal Chapter 18 The drive home.

The trip was going very well. I stopped in Clinton for coffee and then again somewhere south of Little Rock but mostly just kept the hammer down listening to the XM jazz station. Sometimes XM will play good stuff on bluesville or Bill Wax will have a guest and I get to enjoy whatever blues trivia they kick up. I always check into Bluesville first.


Unfortunately along about 11 pm, a black Texas Highway Patrol officer somewhere around Mt. Vernon decided I was speeding, and I was, He decided he needed to have a chat with me. I was in the process of trying to get around a string of 18 wheelers about two miles long. I do not like to drive my little HHR with tiny boat trailer in the midst of all that. Guess who got picked out as the tourist. Yup, I was the one. Radar said I was speeding. I was no doubt but so was every other vehicle on the highway with me. Oh well, it had been a long time since they nailed me so I guess it was my turn to be the revenue turkey.

The policeman asked me to get out of the car and to come to the rear of the vehicle. OK, but I thought that is unusual they normally want to come up and talk to you from right behind your ear. That roadside manner always makes me think I am about to be shot in the back of the head. I like for cops to keep their hands where I can see them. I don’t trust them. I know. I know. They have every right to try to protect themselves but it’s in my nature to be as concerned about someone I don’t know as they are about me. Didn’t used to be that way. To my police buddies. I’m sorry I’ve just heard way to many stories. 

I guess I fit some sort of bad guy profile because they all seem to come on with a hell of a lot of attitude. I’ve really never understood that part or why they think they have to act like Billy Bad Ass. Maybe it’s in the training but I think it’s more who they want to be, not who they are. I’ve never seen the agressiveness to be necessary. This guy could have used a little lesson in manners, but I guess someone told him nobody would respect him if he acted like a nice guy. Who knows why people do what they do. I sure as hell can’t figure it out.

Anyway, the policeman asks what was my reason for speeding. I said, “really how fast was I going” ? He says you were doing 77 in a 65 zone. I think to myself “aw crap, that is exactly what I was doing”. But I’d thought the speed limit was 70. Apparently, they lower the limit by 5 mph after dark. Uh oh, this could be expensive.

I hung my head with shame. Not really. I was ticked off at myself for getting caught when I had seen cop cars between every town since the Texas line.  Obviously they were having a big fund raising night and the cats had just bagged another sucker trying to get himself home at a decent hour. They knew who they wanted. They knew who would pay the fine and they knew who would not cause harm to them. That is the target audience of the Texas State trooper. Let’s don’t forget that Interstate Highway 30 is the main connection to I-35 from the Mexican border.

My pal, the Arkadelphia police, told me years ago that this stretch of road gets the heavy dose of drug traffickers on their way to northern cities. I just hung my head and kept my mouth shut. Drugs flow north, tourists return home by going south. Me thinks they are chasing the wrong side of the highway. While he writes the ticket I can’t help but thinking what a waste of resources in our supposed war on drugs. They have an army of cops chasing revenue by going after speeding business people and tourists instead of trying to do something to reduce the drug scourge of the nation. I wondered what his ticket quota was for that evening and if he had already made it and was on bonus time. The guy gave me a lecture about speeding and all I could think about is just give me the damned ticket and shut the hell up.

The rest of the ride to Dallas went well enough. I dialed the autopilot down to 73 and hauled it home. The reason I was on 73 is that there were Highway Patrol speed traps set up about every 40 miles. A Texas Ranger once told me to stay under 74 and no one would ever pull you over. Every car and truck on the road passed me but I stuck to rule 73. I still had a long way to go and it was getting late.

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