I was in a melancholy mood when I went to the post-office. I had to pay a speeding ticket I received in a little town in Illinois named Galena. I was convinced that I was a victim of a speed trap. However, I was sure there would be hell-to-pay if I challenged this officer after what I had unknowingly done to him.
Our family of four was on the first-day drive of our vacation out west. After high winds, a dust storm and plenty of ugly gray windmill farms throughout Indiana and Illinois, we were happy to be closing in on our first destination. The road was winding through trees, up and down hilly countryside, when I saw the new speed limit sign. It was about the same time a patrol car passed from the opposite direction. I didn’t see the cruiser brake, slow or turnaround through my rear-view mirror. We rounded the bend and turned the music back up.
The GPS was providing our navigation and we were listening to the MP3 playing Holiday Road by Lindsey Buckingham – a fitting song if you ever saw National Lampoon’s Vacation. Bobbing our heads and singing along, we drove over a hill and became mesmerized by a picturesque town ahead.
The hillside view of Galena was just gorgeous!
Our vehicle echoed with, “Look at THIS town, check out the building over there, no –look at that, we need a picture.”
The spontaneity quickly turned to, “Stop there, no –turn there, turn again, WAIT! There’s a cop behind us with his lights on.”
I pulled into a roadside parking space as I replayed our course in my mind. All I could imagine was that I must have rolled through a stop sign.
I rolled my window down, feeling the heat and precipitation only it had nothing to do with the muggy weather. This officer was in my ear, spitting and shouting like a drill sergeant would to a new recruit.
“Don’t they pull over to the right in Ohio!” he hollered. It wasn’t a question.
I thought for sure this guy was gasoline and I was a lit match so I proceeded with caution and kindness. But he’d have none of it, except my license, registration and proof of insurance.
He remained livid and shouted plenty more before storming back to his cruiser.
Then, we waited …and waited …and waited.
Meanwhile, I had to explain to my nine-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son that their dad was not going to jail (at least I didn’t think I was) but was most definitely going to get a ticket. My mind drifted to paying a fine and whether or not my insurance rate would go up. What a way to blow the budget on the first day of vacation!
The policeman returned and the puzzle pieces fell into place. Here, it turned out he had been in the cop car I thought didn’t turn around wa-a-a-ay back on that country road. Now I’m not sure if he ever had his siren on because the music wasn’t THAT loud. The kids would have complained otherwise. His flashing light was not one mounted to the exterior of the car. Rather it was flashing from the interior. The officer ensued in what was a low-speed-chase covering a couple miles, by my estimation. The cop was convinced he was “chasing” defiant tourists, when in actuality our attention had been bent on taking photographs.
Ticket apparent, I said as little as I had to when he returned to my window.
Later, I read in a magazine that Galena was one of the hundred places I must see before I die.
And we never did take a picture of it!
By Rocco Satullo, your tour guide to fun!