The Long Shot
I came across the bridge on the South Georgia highway—at a speed greater than the sign allowed. Two of us understood that. I attempted to slow down, but the other person wanted to talk. There are a few unwanted sights that we occasionally see; hardly any as unsettling at the blue lights on the car behind you.
The officer, a Georgia Highway Patrolman, wearing a shirt that he just had to get from the cleaner, and having shaved before he came on duty. He looked like a recruiting poster. Our conversation began:
O. Sir, do you know how fast you were going?
J. No, officer I don’t, but I think it was ‘slightly—over—the—limit.’
O. He asked for and examined my license, then said “Mr. Alexander, you were doing 59 in a 45-mile zone.”
J. What! Anybody who does that should be put in jail, their cell phone taken away and not allowed to watch Jeopardy.
O. Don’t you think that’s a bit too severe.
J. (I thought about it for five seconds and said, OK, let them watch Jeopardy.
And then things really shifted. I rubbed my chest and side. He saw the uncomfortable look on my face, and he asked, “Mr. Alexander, are you alright?”
J. No. Did your mama say had chickenpox?
O. She did.
J. Well, if you had chickenpox, the virus for shingles is in your body—just waiting to turn on one-of-a-kind very painful—blue light. Promise me that when you write the ticket you’ll go and get your shingles shot. I’m still hurting from shingles. YOU-DO-NOT-WANT-THIS-STUFF.
O. He smiled and said, “You just had to mention blue light didn’t you. Who said I was going to write a ticket?
J. Whatever you do, when your shift ends, even at midnight, promise me you’ll go get the shingles shot.
He went to this patrol car and checked my license, and when he returned our conversation resumed.
O. Mr. Alexander, your license is good. Now, promise me you’ll slow down.
J. I’m not going to promise you anything, until you promise me you’ll get your shingles shot pronto.
The look on his face expressed exasperation.
O. Okay, okay, Mr. Alexander, I promise to get my singles shot.
J. I called him by name and said, “Then, we have a deal. I promise to slow down.”
I kept my promise. I would bet he kept his.