In early August of 1987 I was driving North on I-95 in my bought brand new 1985 Chevy Caprice. Both my mother and my wife were in the car traveling with me. The reason I know this exact time was that my mom, wife and I were driving from St. Petersburg, Florida to Greenville, SC after traveling to Florida to attend my dad’s funeral.

It was a beautiful cool and crisp fall day and the interstate traffic in Georgia, just north of Savannah, was very light. We were traveling from St. Petersburg Florida to Greenville, South Carolina. The interstate speed limit was 65 MPH and I had my cruise control set right at 70. Today was a perfect day to be traveling. It was one of those days that I was in no hurry and basically had a few hundred miles to travel and all day to get there.

In looking back at the following experience, I suspect that there was a lot of talking going on in the car and for whatever reason; I did not notice the sigh indicating that the speed limit had just dropped from 65 to 55.

I truly did not see the reduced speed to 55 MPH speed limit sign.55 mph

As it always is, I had those dreaded flashing blue lights coming up on me at warp speed. Yep, he was after me and signaled me to the routine pull it over to the side of the road.

I did as instructed and the colored Georgia Highway Patrol officer pulled in behind me with about a cars’ length between our vehicles.

In the immediate seconds after parking off to the side of the highway,  I was thinking back over the previous 5 driving minutes in a vain attempt to figure out exactly why I was being stopped. I had no clue. Also, during the next minute or two, the officer was calling in my plates for the routine vehicle verification.

As if this next moment was choreographed, both the officer and I exited our respective vehicles at precisely the same moment, I was facing and walking a few steps towards him as he walked towards me.

The officer was about 6 inches shorter than I and appeared to be very physically fit… none the less he was shorter than I was and I suspect, being from the ‘South’, possibly race sensitive.highway patrol

Now, here’s where it gets interesting… When I talk, usually I speak with bodily animation, using my hands. There are many times that I am not conscious of what my hand looks like to the casual observer, but have been made aware of the ‘impression’ after the fact.

So, as I am walking towards and speaking to the officer, (still innocently and without a clue as to why I was being stopped), using my hands as I asked him in my usual animated fashion, I respectfully asked him,  Why was I being stopped…(?)” as I was also speaking with my hands.

(Honestly, even to this point I had no clue about his perception of my hand… because I just don’t think like my hand implies…)

His immediate, tense but controlled terse response was a very firm, “…’Gimmie’ your license…!”

Of course, I took out my wallet and removed my license and the insurance card… then I took a moment to look at the expiration date on the insurance card to be sure it was not the expired one but the current card….  Sometimes I don’t always discard the expired insurance cards, so I had to look. This also was just about the time I needed to start wearing reading glasses, but I had no glasses with me, so it took me a second to focus on reading the expiraton date on my insurance card.

Dan2As I was reading the insurance card, he snapped both my license and my insurance card out of my hand … and I mean SNAPPED…!

The trooper attached my license and insurance card to his clipboard, lowered his head and went right to writing out the citation, without saying another word.

I was surprised at how tense he was and during the same thought process I thought back to the previous few minutes of our meeting… Then I wondered, could it be he thought he saw something he really did not see….? …As I thought, here we go again.

I hate it when that happens…!

So, I figured that since it was probably going to cost me a few dollars for the ticket anyway why not play a card and see what happens.

Making sure in was in plain view of his car-camcorder, I said… ”…Excuse me… whatcha’ doin….?…”

In response to my question, he did not move his head from the position he had while doing his paperwork, but simple rolled his eyes up towards me, (remember I’m about 6+ inches taller than he is and about 3 feet away from him), and he said..”…I’m writing you a ticket for speeding….!!!”.

“…Speeding…”, I said, …you didn’t even give me a chance… to lie to you yet…!”  (I really did say this in a very light hearted way)…

Then, he tensely says to me as he firmly folds all but his middle finger towards me, and he says (quote) …And besides that, sonNOBODY does this to me……!” as he displayed his middle finger to my face… we were only about 4 feet apart.

(I think we all know what a pregnant pause is… as I allowed his words to slowly resonate on that cool, crisp Georgia roadside, all the while in FULL view of the troopers patrol car-camcorder).

I mentally savored the potential of this moment…

After a short few seconds pause, with a respectful and yet with puzzled expression of my dismay,(as I held up my hand back-side towards him and slowly turned my hand…. palm-side towards him) and in response to his tensely cool comment, I said EXACTLY these words:

‘…Excuse me… [pause]… I’m being cited… because… of your… misinterpretation… of my disability…?”…

[As I was then also looking to peer over his clipboard in an attempt to read the citation… I finished my sentence by saying….]

 “…What’s the court date…?”…

His momentarly, totally frozen look was priceless…

Rolling his eyes back down to the paperwork on his clip[board… He wrote “…warning on my ticket and then said, “…I’ve gotta’ go…” , as he was immediately turning to walk back to his car…

Not another word was said… I was slowly walking back to my car, putting my license and insurance card back into my wallet, while savoring the moment.

He was in his car and drove away in less than 30 seconds and I hadn’t even gotten back into my car yet…

Then, getting into my car, the first words my mother (who was sitting in the front seat), said to me were exactly these;

“…You are my son… and IF you’d of  just told me you did what I just saw and heard you do, I would not have believed you…”.

I smiled…

We drove away with another ‘story’, in the books.

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