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I’m a believer in God and I believe in miracles. They are around us everyday. According to the laws of physics, a bumblebee’s wings are too small to lift it off the ground; yet they do the job well enough to make you run away screaming like a little girl. People are miraculously saved from impending accidents by pets. A mother somehow knows that her daughter is in trouble, even though she’s 2000 miles away at the time. A hospital patient comes out of a coma after 15 years. Yes, miracles are real, but they just don’t happen to me very often. Until yesterday.
I had gone into a customer to see if I could pick up a load early, but they were having none of that. The shipping lady told me to come back at 5 p.m. Since I wasn’t allowed to park on their property, she suggested a truckstop 2.5 miles down the road. I had seen it on the way in, so I went there to wait it out.
Bejeweled occupied my time quite nicely. . . actually too nicely. After playing a while, I glanced at the clock, which showed it to be 3:30. Plenty of time. As anyone who plays video games can tell you, time freakin’ flies when you’re having fun. The next time I looked up, it was 4:59. Holy cow! I slapped my MacBook Pro shut and pulled out of the truckstop. I wasn’t going to be late as I knew I had until 7 p.m. to pick up the load, so I wasn’t in a huge hurry. But I wasn’t paying attention either.
That’s when I saw it in the distance. A black car with something on top. I hoped it was a luggage rack, but I didn’t hold out much hope. It wasn’t. One glance at my speedometer told me I was going somewhere between 55 and 60 mph. Problem was, I had no idea what the speed limit was. The road I was on ran alongside an Interstate, but that told me nothing. It could have been 35 mph or it could have been 55 or 60 mph.
As the Indiana State Trooper went past me, I thought I had gotten lucky. Not so. As soon as he got past, he whipped a U-turn and got behind me. I knew he was going to pull me over, but still he didn’t do anything. I could see the shipper in the distance and was praying that I could turn off and he wouldn’t bother with me. Again, no such luck. He flipped on the cherries.
As there was no shoulder and no side roads to pull over to, I turned on my hazard flashers and slowly proceeded to the next turn off, which was right beside the shipper. The cop seemed to realize that I couldn’t pull over, so he waited patiently until I did. I grabbed my license and truck registration and stepped out of the cab. I’ve had cops get all pissy and paranoid on me for stepping out before, but this officer didn’t seem to have a problem with it. As he drew closer, I was surprised by how young he was. He couldn’t have been a day over 25. I told him that the wife was sleeping and I didn’t want to wake her up. He understood and asked if I realized I was speeding. I said, “I realized it about the time I saw you.”
As he eyed my license and registration, I pointed at the shipper and explained that I had already been here once and that I had been waiting at the truckstop until my load was ready at 5 p.m. As that had nothing to do with me speeding, I don’t know why I even mentioned it. Nervous babble I suppose. He made no comment. Then he asked to look at my log book.
I had been expecting that, but I have learned that you never offer your log book unless an officer asks for it. Even if you are pulled into a weigh station and told to bring your paperwork in for inspection, you never take your log book. If it’s right in front of an officer’s face, they’re liable to look at it. If not, he/she may not bother. Out of sight, out of mind. For the most part, it works. The reason truckers do this is because a simple miscalculation or slip of the pen could end up costing you hundreds of dollars.
Anyway, I jumped back in the cab and handed it out to him, grateful that I had remembered to update it before I started playing Bejeweled. That in itself is a miracle, since I normally would have waited until after I was loaded before I caught the log book up . He asked, “When was the last time you got a ticket? I knew it had been a while so I said, “Probably three years ago.” He said, “I’ll be back.” I wonder how he said that phrase without saying it like Arnold? I just can’t do it.
As I waited in the cab, I knew what was coming. I kept glancing in my side mirror and hoping he would get out quickly and come back with a warning. But he stayed put. When I finally saw his door open, I didn’t know whether he had had time to write a ticket or not. I anticipated the worst.
As he handed my license, registration, and log book back to me he said, “Have you learned your lesson?” I think the shock on my face amused him as I could tell he was supressing a smile. I said, “Yes sir, I have”, feeling a little awkward calling a guy nearly half my age “sir.” He said that 99% of troopers would have issued me a ticket and that I should feel fortunate. I assured him that I was very grateful. I asked him if he minded telling me how fast I was going, to which he replied, “56 in a 40 mph zone.” I said, “Ouch” before I could stop myself. He said, “Yeah, it’s a $170 fine.” I cringed and thanked him again for the warning. I told him that he had kept me out of a lot of hot water with my company and my driving record. He seemed to know this and told me to remember him anytime I saw a speed limit sign. Ironic, since me not seeing the speed limit sign was why I was in this position in the first place.
So there’s my miracle. When you are a truck driver, getting out of any ticket is rare. Fines in trucks are steeper than the fines you get in automobiles and they are a great source of revenue for state economies. But getting out of the kind of ticket I escaped is almost unheard of.
Sixteen miles an hour over the speed limit is considered a major violation and that is exactly why I was stopped. When it comes to trucking companies and State Motor Vehicle Departments, this kind of ticket is right up there with reckless driving, driving while intoxicated, and leaving the scene of an accident. That’s serious stuff, and so was the ticket I miraculously avoided. Sure, it’s not quite as miraculous as childbirth or surviving a worldwide flood in a wooden boat filled with pairs of animals. But hey, I’ll take any kind of miracle I can get.
Now if I could just quit seeing that trooper’s face every time I see a stinkin’ speed limit sign. Enough with the guilt already. Hammer down!!