Friday, July 23, 2010

Memory Lane Friday - That Was a First

It's Memory Lane Friday, again! Yay! I enjoy doing these posts; they're truly a lot of fun! Not only do I get to sit here and reminisce about fun, crazy, wild, fantastic stuff, I get a great reason to look through old photos.

So this week's topic is "That Was a First." Now, I could've written about the first time I drove a car (that was a funny memory). Or I could've written about the first time I rode a horse, went deep sea fishing, or the first time I rode a roller coaster.

However, since I keep thinking about last week's Memory Lane Friday - A Tourist Trap post which took place in the Southwest, I'm going to continue with the "located in the Southwest" theme with this week's post.

This incident happened along I-10 in Arizona, just about a 10-15 minute drive from the New Mexico border. (See what I mean? The first story I talked about in last week's post took place along I-10 in Arizona, too.) And the incident? Well, keep reading . . .

Some scenery along I-10 in Arizona:

 These photos are near a place called Texas Canyon in Arizona. The distinctive scenery includes huge boulders all about.

Man-o-man! Was this an incident to remember?! It was December 2001, and I was on active duty, stationed in Tucson, AZ. I'd been heading from Tucson to El Paso, TX to spend the Christmas holiday with my grandparents. It must've been just a few days before Christmas, maybe the 21st or 22nd.

Here I was, in my little black Corolla, just cruising along - literally cruising. The speed limit on this section of I-10 was 75 MPH, so I'd had my cruise control set to 80 MPH. Exactly 80. You know, because this stretch of I-10 - through this eastern part of southern AZ and most of the way through southern New Mexico until you got near Las Cruces - was desolate. Sometimes you'd have an exit with a gas station or a motel or restaurant, or even an occasional rest stop but otherwise it was sparse, lonely. Think brown, dusty land as far as the eye can see.

So here I am, cruising along at 80, no more, no less. I had it on cruise control. You know, because I didn't think I'd get pulled over for going a measly FIVE MPH over the posted speed limit.

I remember passing a car on the side of the road that had been pulled over by the Arizona Highway Patrol.

I remember thinking, at least it wasn't ME! as I smiled and zoomed past them at 80, just 5 MPH over the speed limit.

I remember being excited about the holiday with my grandparents. I couldn't wait to walk through the garage, into the house, through the laundry room and into that kitchen smelling like all the wonderful food my grandmother always cooked.

And then something caught my eye.

Oh, boy. It was flashing lights in the rear view mirror!! My heart jumped into my throat. No way!! That trooper had just pulled some other car over! It can't be happening to ME!!

Of course, there was a moment when I thought that it wasn't me. Maybe he was heading down the highway to catch somebody else and he'll pass me at any moment. Right?


So I did what I had to do. I slowed down and pulled over, putting the car in park. I rolled down my driver's side window and put my hands back on the steering wheel at 10 and 2 (somehow, I was afraid he'd think I was doing something suspicious if he couldn't see my hands, so I kept them on the steering wheel, thinking he could see them there the best).

I expected him on my side of the car, so I kept looking in the driver's side mirror, so I could see him approaching.

But a knock on the passenger side front window startled me, and I looked over to see him there.

I had power windows on that car, so I opened the window without having to lean all the way over there.

I smiled and tried not to be nervous. But my heart was pounding hard, and I could feel my forehead and upper lip getting clammy.

He began speaking and while I was listening carefully, I was not exactly processing what he was saying to me. I tried to answer his questions as best I could. Did I know why he pulled me over? "Um, was I speeding, sir?" Duh, of course I was, and I knew it, but it came out as a question.

He asked if I knew how fast I was going. I said, "Um, yes. I was going 80."

"Do you know what the speed limit is?"

"Yes, it's 75 here." I'm thinking, Yes, I know I'm busted. Please, just give me a warning. Please. How am I going to explain a ticket to my grandparents?!

He heads back to his car, saying he'd be right back. It must've just been a few short minutes, no more than 5, I'm estimating.

It felt like forever.

Then he came back and said I was doing 82 - meaning 7 MPH over the limit. And here he was, handing me a piece of paper. I was still hoping it was a warning. And then I saw it was an actual ticket, not a warning. Yep, that was a first! I wanted to cry.

But then he mentioned something about the military installation sticker I had on the car and the uniform hanging in the back (I'd stopped at the cleaners to pick it up on my way out of town, so I wouldn't forget about it after the holidays).

"Yes," to answer his question, "I'm stationed in Tucson."

"Okay, you can go to a one-day classroom-only driving school in Tucson, and the ticket won't go on your record or affect your insurance."

And that was it.

I put the car in D and continued on. Just a couple minutes later, I came upon a rest area. I pulled in and sat there for a few minutes before I called Andrew to tell him all about it. We were newly engaged at the time, and he was stationed in North Carolina, getting ready to head to Delaware to spend the holiday with his parents.

After talking to him, I felt ready to move along.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, I finally got to my grandparents' in El Paso. It seemed like forever because I was actually going slightly slower than the posted speed limit. Usually I'd go about 5-8 MPH faster.

Now, this was at a time when my grandfather had already started using a wheelchair on a regular basis to get around the house. Usually when I visited, I'd push him along to give him a hand if he wanted to go from point A to point B.

Actually, to clarify something . . . I'd push the wheelchair while he was sitting in it, and not push him. He always wanted to clarify that point when I asked "Do you want me to push you somewhere?"

"No," with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face, "I want you to push the wheelchair when I'm settled into it." Hahaha! That was his sense of humor.

So when I got there, after settling in and having a snack and an icy cold soda, my grandfather asked me to push him . . . push the wheelchair as he sat in it . . . from the kitchen to the office.

As I pushed him along, still feeling really guilty about the ticket, he whistled and told me with a faint smile on his face, "Slow down; do you want a speeding ticket?"

I was shocked! How did he know I had a speeding ticket?!

He didn't, of course. It was just the timing of the question and my feeling guilty about it. It's funny now, and I'm smiling as I recall his question. And I did end up going to driving school one Saturday, so it's like I never had a ticket. ;)

Click on the button for the rest of this week's Memory Lane Friday posts:

Come back next week when the topic is: "Chore Time."

1 comment:

varunner said...

LOL on what your grandfather said!

I cried over my first speeding ticket. Funny how dirty you feel over it ;-)

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