Gifts of the Season

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As you know, I have had a struggle with the Black Mt. Police Department this year. When I was the victim of a hit-and-almost-run accident outside the store, a local policeman arrived on the scene and treated me as if I were a serial killer. “I have told you a thousand times not to park in this illegal spot, and yet you park here anyway!  It’s because of you that this accident occurred.”

Instead of the Vic I was being addressed as the Perp.  (All the cop mysteries I read come to mind.)

Because I do not hold a grudge, and because I have had many friendly interactions with other local policemen, I have recovered from the negative attitude I had developed after the church bus slammed into my car. Today, however, I received the best Christmas present ever from the Black Mt. police.

While the body damage on the car was repaired magnificently by Mr. Grey in Ridgecrest, a tiny problem remained to be fixed. A light on the dashboard glared at us, indicating there was something amiss with the driver’s air bag. As we are about to drive to Charleston for Christmas, Ron suggested we get Mr. Grey to fix the light problem and make sure it was nothing more serious. My solution would have been to place a round bandaid over the light so it wasn’t so annoying.

The day had started out very badly. I discovered when I got out of bed that I was completely out of coffee. I don’t understand how I had let this happen, but there it was. I drank a cup of Earl Grey tea, but it just didn’t do the job. I felt limp as a wet rag. I dressed myself adequately (although I later realized that my shirt was on inside out), and made a bee-line for Dynamite Coffee.

I had to wait on line, but the barista saw me looking like a zombie and handed me a cup of hot coffee before I reached the counter. After the first few noisy, delicious slurps, I was able to tune into the conversation of the people ahead of me on line. They were talking about a terrible accident that had taken place earlier Thursday morning on I-40 between Ridgecrest and Old Fort. A tractor trailer had burst into flames and was blocking traffic in the eastbound lanes of the interstate. Traffic was at a standstill.

I forgot about the accident the moment I left the coffee shop, and I ran a bunch of errands. Mr. Grey had asked me to come by his shop after lunch, so at about 1:30 I headed over there. As I drove onto the entrance ramp in front of Tractor Supply, I was surprised to see a minivan heading towards me in the wrong direction. I thought, “What a putz! How did he get himself into the oncoming traffic? Jerk!”

But as I approached the interstate I saw that traffic was at a dead stop. The earlier accident still was causing a mess. I had only one mile to travel to get to Ridgecrest, but could see that I would be in this traffic jam for hours. I thought, “That minivan knew what he was doing!” and I turned the beast around and headed back to Tractor Supply, hoping that I wouldn’t run headlong into a car speeding onto the highway.

I didn’t, but what I did run into was a policeman with his blue lights going and the minivan pulled to the side of the road. He saw me coming and looked furious as he waved me over behind the minivan. “Shit,” I said out loud. I knew I was getting a ticket.

The cop approached my car and said, “Get out your license and registration. What you just did was really stupid. It was an easy way to get yourself killed.”

I couldn’t disagree. I did suggest that he set up a barricade to keep people from getting on the highway, and he said, “Tell you what: I’ll move my car across the road to block traffic and after I have done that, proceed around me and go towards Burton’s Store.” 

I wondered if he meant for me to wait for him in the Burton’s parking lot, but when I passed him, he just waved good-bye. He could have given me a ticket and it would have put me in a funk, but he gave me an unexpected gift. It reminded me of the thing I love the most about Christmas. It’s the time when people put themselves into the shoes of others. The wave from that policeman was the best gift I could possibly get this year.