This story not only got around the Internet, it also got around law enforcement circles. I was attending a seminar some years back when I overheard someone in a group of cops telling the story of the kid in the t-shirt, and an officer I have never met in my life stated that he knew the guy this happened to.
Notoriety at last.
There I was: book in paw, a comfy chair, a huge mug of tea and good music in the CD. Two quiet days off tend to be a rarity in small departments — especially if you happen to be the only single officer in the department. I intended to enjoy that weekend to the fullest.
I don’t want to answer the phone, I am not here, I died and…”Hello.”
“Boy, the Shamu Squad are turning some jerk in a pink car loose ’bout 12 miles west of town. He’s been speeding since California, and I want you to get out there and slow him down afore he hits town.”
Small towns. We only had one radar unit in the department and it was installed in the night deputies cruiser to keep him awake during the wee hours of the morning. Guess who was the night deputy?
Being used to situations like this, I customarily kept a denim vest with a badge stuck to it hanging on a chair by the front door along with a shoulder holster holding a pistol, reload and a pair of cuffs. Mind busily trying to plot where to intercept this guy, I dress on the bounce out to the car, start the cruiser, fire up the radar, hit the freeway — just in time to see the unit light up.
98 in a 45.
I whip a U-turn, catch up to the driver and get him pulled over.
Now, I admit at the time I looked fairly youngish, so I was pretty used to odd looks when I walked up on a car during a traffic stop.
I walk up to the drivers side, knock on the window and the man behind the wheel gives me a startled look. Matter-of-fact, he just looks at me through the glass for the longest time. Finally I rap on the glass again, make a winding motion with my hand and down goes the window.
“Sir, my name is Deputy —-. I’m with the ——— County Sheriff’s Office. The reason I stopped you is that I clocked your vehicle doing 98 in a marked 45MPH zone. Is there an emergency that I need to know about?”
He looks at me awhile, then says, “No, I’m just in a hurry to get back to Massachusetts.”
“Ah,” I respond, “May I see your drivers license, registration and proof of insurance please?”
He kind of frowns. “Are you an officer of the law?”
“Yes, sir. Deputy Sheriff, with the ——— County Sheriff’s Office.”
He gives me this really wierd look, then digs out his info. I go back to the cruiser, and I see him with his head out the window, looking back at me and his eyebrows are kind of crawling up and down his forehead.
I write up the ticket and walk back up to the car.
“Sir, would you sign this here, please. Your signature is not a plea of guilty, it is merely a promise to appear in court.”
He looks down at the ticket, and back up at me and says, “Are you sure you’re a cop?”
I pointed at the badge all nice and shiny on the front of the vest: “I’ve got a badge,” I open the vest, “I’ve got a gun,” other side of the vest, “I’ve got handcuffs, and I can show you the jail, if you’d like.”
“No, no, that’ll be alright.” He scibbles his name on the ticket, and I hand him his documents and the courtesy letter, and wish him a safe trip.
It takes him a while to finally put the car in ‘D’ and leave, and I follow him to the city limits to make sure he keeps it to a reasonable speed.
I guess as soon as I was out of sight, he crammed his foot into the gas tank and took off again. Anyhoo, he hits my Mom’s hometown, and the local cops aren’t fooling around: they snatch him up and take him directly before the judge to plea his case.
He gets done paying the fine, and goes to the Dairy Queen, whereupon he begins airing his gripes to the world. The locals, being bored, listen sympathetically.
“What is it with the cops in Texas?” Everyone nods sagely, and refills his coffee cup.
“I mean, in this town they all look like they were cloned from the same mustache.” Smiles and nods all around.
“I hit the Texas State line, and I got pulled over by a mustache with a pair of nunchuks hanging off his belt, then two towns later I get ticketed by a bleach blonde grandmother.”
“But the absolute worst time,” he sputtered, almost in tears, “Is X number of towns back where I got pulled over by a redheaded kid wearing a Sheriff’s badge pinned to a BUGS BUNNY T-SHIRT!”
It was not a Bugs Bunny T-shirt. I emphatically deny owning a Bugs Bunny t-shirt.
It was a Tazmanian Devil t-shirt.
Well, how often do you think about what you’re wearing on your day off?
Wait, the worst of it is yet to come.
Every person in the diner starts counting towns on their fingers … X towns back … red-headed kid … Sheriff’s badge … the entire restaraunt turns as one and looks at Mom, sitting in the back.
Mom, of course, made it a point the next time she visited me, to tell the whole wretched story to a resturaunt full of gossips in my town.
I caught hell about the ‘Bugs Bunny T-Shirt’ for years after that.