Dean was in his 80s and still drove his pickup. This concerned his best friend, Jack, who questioned the wisdom of riding with him. Dean based his self-confidence on the fact that he lived in western Kansas where you could drive from Hugoton to Bird City and never see a person wearing a suit and a tie!
Dean was a cattle feeder and planned a trip to Sublett. He invited Jack to go with him. Against his better judgment, Jack agreed. Dean insisted on driving. To the credit of Kansas, the speed limit is high. Twenty miles from home, the truck started shaking. They pulled off on the shoulder and made an inspection. One of the rear tires was low.
On close examination, they found a nail in the tread. These two wise sages pondered whether to try and fix it. That would entail crawling underneath the truck, letting the spare tire down, dragging it out from under the bed, jacking up the vehicle, spinning off the lugs, muscling the LT 265/70R 17 tire, etc., etc., etc.
Dean made an executive decision: don’t pull the nail out, turn around and race back home before the air escapes out of the tire completely. Brilliant! Then have the tire fixed in town. Jack, who was a little younger, took over the driving with Dean’s approval.
They were flying (80 mph) down the long, bare, two-lane road, the tire thumping and shaking the steering wheel as Dean egged Jack on! As you would guess, they attracted the attention of a lonely Kansas State Trooper who turned on his flashing lights and pulled them over. They explained about the tire and their urgency. It fell on deaf ears. He gave Jack a speeding ticket … a hefty ticket for speeding and for driving an unsafe vehicle!
A week went by. Another trip was planned, same destination, same State Trooper. This time Dean was driving. He was made to pull over.
The Trooper recognized the vehicle and the two geezers from the previous week.
"Goin’ a little fast, weren’t you, boys?" he asked.
Dean, no stranger to this setting, said, "Eighty-three, officer, only eight miles an hour over the speed limit. I didn’t have the cruise on, better to pay attention without that automatic stuff. I try to be safe. I can’t remember the last time I got a ticket … I got a good record … etc., etc., etc."
When he stopped to take a breath the officer stepped in, "The speed limit is 65 and I clocked you at 92. And, I gave you a ticket last week for speeding and unsafe driving."
"Uh, you gave HIM a ticket last week," said Dean, pointing at Jack.
The Trooper was examining Dean’s driver’s license.
"You aren’t wearing glasses," he said.
"Well, I was just cleaning them when you flagged me down. That might be why I speeded up, not bein’ able to see the dashboard and all."
Jack said, "Let me trade with him and I’ll drive us. I’m a lot safer."
"I gave YOU a ticket last week for speeding …. Maybe you guys are a bad influence on each other. Did you ever think of that?"
"You are absolutely right, Officer, so if you don’t write him a ticket, I’ll take him home and, just to be fair, I’ll make him pay half of mine!"
Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television and also through his books, cds, videos and website, www.baxterblack.com.