Police Activity – Big Boots, Small Guns, and Speeding Tickets
I have already discussed some of my experiences with the police during my teen years. I got pulled over on while on my bicycle three times. I, and the rest of the crew, had discussions with the police about the artistic merits of toilet paper in trees on consecutive nights. Then there was the considerable donation we made to the Park Police at Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan. That’s a repsectable amount of police activity, but wait, there was more. Compared to many people, my interactions with the police have been modest and pedestrian. One only needs to watch a episode of “Cops” to see how things can be different, but these are my stories and I’m sticking to them.
My older son is nearly driving age. We were talking about the responsibilities involved with driving and he asked “What happens if you get a speeding ticket?”. I explained that would be bad, really bad in some circumstances, but it does happen. It got me to thinking about my teen years and tickets. That reminded me of three incidents from those years.
Big Boots – It was 1981 and we were flatland rednecks. Part of the accepted attire at the time were hiking boots. Big, clunky, hiking boots, that made your feet look three times bigger than they really were (joke time – what do you say about a man with big feet? Big shoes.) Yeah, we also had flannel and concert t-shirts, Jean jackets, but I really remember the hiking boots. Hymie finally got his folks to buy him a pair, with was an accomplishment. Hymie’s growth spurt sent him from 5’8” past 6’ in about 18 months so his folks had a hell of a time keeping him in clothes that fit. He got a nice pair of boots, maybe size 12.5, on the inside, but on the outside each was a bit smaller than a golf cart. Let me remind you that at the time, Hymie’s main mode of transportation was a Renault Le Car. A vehicle that was just a bit larger than a golf cart. So, put these two together in your mind. Good. Now the story. It was well after dark and Hymie and I were out looking for a chase. A chase was where you would follow a car for a while, then pass it in hopes that it would follow you. A chase. In Boulder Hill, with the twisty roads and lack of street lights, this was great fun. So we are in a chase, being chased, going well above the posted 35mph speed limit when lights flip on behind us, police lights. At first Hymie floors it (“flooring it” is a relative term in a Le Car. While the gas pedal did go down, the car didn’t really speed up, it just made more noise), I give him a panicked look, then he smiles and pulls over. He had a plan. Knowing he had a plan make my panic worse.
The police officer walks up and goes through his normal bit, license, where you going,…. Do you know how fast you were going… you were doing 51 in a 35…Then Hymie starts in with his explanation . “I didn’t mean to be speeding officer. I grew up in this neighborhood and I know how dangerous it is to speed with all the little kids and the cars parked out on the road. I wasn’t really speeding, but my boot got caught under the brake pedal and I couldn’t get it off of the gas.” At this point I was trying to figure out if I should call mom or dad from the lock up, when the cop turned his flashlight down to Hymie’s feet. You could barely see any floor with those lunker boots filling up all the space. “I just got these boots, and I guess I never guessed that you could accidently hit both pedals. It is a pretty little car.” The policeman angled the light to see the pedals, which in this car were hardly more than rubber covered sticks. “I managed to get it un stuck right after you turned on your lights, you probably heard the motor go as I pushed to get it out”. The policeman turned his light to Hymie’s face. It was all innocence and smiles, as if he were taking meals to elderly shut ins on his way to bible class. “Ok, be more careful next time. Have a nice night.” The Officer went back to his car and left. Hymie smiled at me, “Well, it could’ve happened you know” was all he said.
Small Guns – On Hymie’s 18th birthday, we went hiking down around Silver Springs Park. It was late, late fall, and the park was nearly empty. That was convenient, since we brought a couple of BB guns, and a bottle of wine. As always, when we went hiking, each of use was carrying a knife big enough to be illegal. We walked around and shot at things, not animals or birds as such, but just tried to hit things. (For the record, I hit nothing. Ever. Man, did I suck.) We each took a slug of the wine, but it really didn’t taste good to us (Again, genius at work. Cheap ass screw cap wine out of the bottle on a 40 degree day and we were surprised it tasted bad. Go figure.) After a few hours we came back home and decided to go to Mc Donalds at Rt. 30 and Douglas. As we travelled along Fernwood, a police car came towards us and flicked on his lights. Hymie pulled over as stashed the wine bottle deep under the passenger seat of the Le Car, then followed it with hats and gloves. The guns were in the hatchback, covered with a blanket. The three of us looked great, all decked out in military surplus gear, sweaty from the hiking, mud stained, and not at all suspicious . Then the Officer started his routine: License, where are you going, where have you been… to which Hymie answered truthfully. Then “Do you know you were going 48miles per hour?” “Oh, no sir, I had no idea. We just came up that big hill back there and sometimes this little car has trouble with it when all of us are in the car” (Yes, another Le Car related incident). The Officer looked each one of us over “You boys all from around here?” yessirs, followed along with our addresses. He told us to stay put while he went back to his car. We sweated and didn’t say a word to each other the whole time. Then he came back. “You really need to be a lot more careful in a residential area boys. I don’t doubt this little foreign car couldn’t make the hill easily, but still keep the speed down. Since it’s your birthday, I’m going to let you go. Have a nice day.” We went to the Mc Donalds, ate some burgers, and laughed for the next two hours.
Speeding Tickets – I used to drive to a video store all the way out in Warrenville to get movies. Then we would have movie nights at my house. Yes, this was VHS, and the VHS player had dials and was always flashing because we couldn’t set the time correctly. In terms of entertainment choices, it was the dawn of time. Once Eola road was finished from Rt. 34 to New York Street, my time to and from the store was really cut down. Hymie went with me to get a video, and on the way back we got caught by the light at Eola and New York. I said “I love this new section of road. It’s in great shape, it has twists and turns like a sports car track, no houses on it, and there are never any cops. Hang on.” When the light went green, I gave the Celica all it could take. The first curve was a righ hander just after a little rise in the road. By now I was going about 65mph. As I crossed lanes to the right and headed into the turn, I saw the cop car sitting in the median, facing me. I slammed on the brakes. The tired squealed and the car went into a minor slide. I corrected the slide just at the officer turned on his lights and pointed for me to pull over. Hymie stared straight ahead, face like a stone, while I was terrified. What would happen? Then I thought, hell, Hymie’s been pulled over twice, guilty as hell and we got out of it both times. I relaxed a little and tried to put on a smiley face. I rolled down my window and started with “Hello officer, is there a probl…..” That’s as far as I got. “Son, I’m going to give you ticket for speeding. Then I’m going to look around this car and give you every ticket I possible can. On top of that, I’m just hoping you’ve got something outstanding Let me see your license.” He took it and walked around the car carefully inspecting the lights. After fifteen minutes or so of waiting he came back and handed me a ticket. “You are so lucky son. All I can do is give you a speeding ticket for going 53 in a 50 zone. I know you were going faster, but that’s all I got. Don’t bother trying to fight it, I’m going to show up in court for this one. Have a nice day.” And he left. I sat, stunned and speechless. Unfortunately, Hymie wasn’t. “You know what your problem is? You just aren’t good with people….”