Three days after Tim Tebow led the Florida Gators to a National Championship over Sam Bradford’s Sooners, we finished crossing Texas.
My final Christmas break included a once-in-a-lifetime road trip from Georgia to Arizona. As was the case in law school, I had received my student-loan living expenses check in August (beginning of first semester), which was supposed to last until mid-January at the start of second semester. I was temporarily broke. A generous donation from my cross-country comrade’s father allowed me the disposable income I needed to do it big in Austin for two nights. This story starts the next day after that money was gone.
We stumbled into my friends car on Monday morning and it was clear I would drive the first leg. The Sunday night in Austin, which I spent bargaining for a girl’s phone number and maybe even a kiss, was spent by my friend downing a dozen whiskey and sprites. He was hungover/still drunk. The only way we were leaving before noon was by me taking the wheel first.
So, we set out for San Antonio, turned right on I-10 toward El Paso into the great wide open. For those of you fortunate enough to see this part of the country, it is best described as clear. With small elevation changes and the same number of trees as upper Antarctica, you can see everything for miles in every direction except for what lurks behind these giant median boulders.
Throughout the trip, we roughly divided up driving. When he got tired, I drove and vice-versa. My friend’s car came standard with more space than necessary for the speedometer needle. I guess German cars have to be equipped for the Audobon.
On this part of the trip, I learned how it feels to travel faster than 110 miles per hour on land. My friend was asleep and I could see if cops were anywhere within 10 miles in any direction. I was NOT getting pulled over. On one of my friend’s naps, I noticed a complete lack of intelligent life ahead on the highway.
Again, the only obstructions were random giant boulders in the median, but they looked too small for anyone to hide their entire car behind. So, I laid the hammer down and climbed to 120 mph, when all of a sudden, I passed a median boulder with a suspecting officer behind it. The speed limit was 80, but I was unaware of any place in the USA with a lenience for speeders travelling 40 mph faster than the limit.
The Sutton Texas policeman pulled me over far past his hiding place and I was apprehensive to say the least. I had just shy of $300 in my bank account and not enough time between now and the first class of second semester to spend a night in a Texas jail.
The quick slowdown woke my friend up who was as emotional as anyone after a night like the previous one he had. The officer casually walked up to my window and asked me to step out of the car. A number of words come to mind when facing an overnight jail stay halfway across America from your hometown. One of them is “Oh F[expletive]!”
Standing halfway between the patrol car and my friend’s car for what seemed like 4 hours, the officer approached me saying, “I pulled you over for speeding.” In my sarcastic mind, I considered responses ranging from “No shit” to “Oh really, I thought I didn’t stop at a duck crossing,” but I went with an innocent sounding”yes sir.”
As a current 31 year-old, I often get carded for alcohol, so at 26, the officer may have been more interested in whether I was yet old enough to drive. We were close to the Mexican border, so maybe he was looking for illegals.
After his initial revealing of the unmysterious reason for pulling me over, he spent a few more minutes by my friend’s car and re-approached me to say I was getting a warning. Uh Really!? I just got away with driving 40 miles per hour over the speed limit in Texas. Was he a real police officer?
Many times since, I have not been as lucky in completely separate instances of my life, but I need to remember this one.
For those hoping to apply this to your life, I guess the moral of this one is, “if you are going to go 120 on a Texas highway, look pathetic, hungover, and 14, so maybe a policeman will give you a warning instead of taking you to jail for reckless driving.”
To the officer who let me off easily wherever you are, you’re a legend. My children’s children say thank you.