- In 1964 a Texas state trooper lit me up for doing 85 in a 75 zone, on the way from Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio to the Texas State Fair in Dallas. He gave me a ticket on which he identified the offense and showed me a series of items on the ticket, a checklist from which I could choose several options. I was to check one and submit the ticket by mail.
One of the items was to pay the fine and end the matter. I could send the ticket and check to Waco County Justice of the Peace Joe N. Brown. Making payment being by far the simplest option, I searched the ticket for the amount I should pay and found . . . nothing.
I wrote to Mr. Brown explaining the situation and promised that if he would only tell me what the amount of the fine was for doing 85 in a 75 zone I would send him a check.
After a period of silence, I assumed that the mills of the Texas justice system must grind very slowly and that eventually someone would let me know. Ha!
Several months later I got a call from the Orderly Room (company headquarters) informing me that there was a state trooper there with a warrant for my arrest and ordering me to report immediately. By then the ticket had disappeared from my thoughts and I had no idea what this was all about.
Well, the state had issued the warrant, and it was for non-payment of the ticket. I was flabbergasted. I explained to the trooper that the ticket had no amount information and I had written to the JP, yada yada yada. He laughed and said "This happens all the time. The JP's do not get any postage money from the state and when they get a letter like yours they just pitch it." (A first class stamp was five cents in 1964. However, with Texas declining to provide ticket amounts, I can imagine that JP's might have received a *lot* of letters like mine.)
On my promise to mail payment immediately, the trooper informed me of the amount, tucked the warrant in his pocket, and departed.
- In 1967, on returning from Vietnam, I drove from Corpus Christi, Texas, to New England for a 30 day leave. With me was my bridge playing friend Dolly, and we took her car. I had to drop her off in the D.C. area, and we drove across the bottom of the country and then up the east coast.
In South Carolina a state trooper jumped right out of my trunk and stopped me for doing 80 in a 70 zone. Really, I have no idea where he came from I didn't see him as we approached wherever he was and I didn't see him get on the highway behind me. He was just *there*, suddenly.
He asked for my license and the car's registration, which I provided. He frowned, looked at me, and asked, "What's this 'APO' in the address area?"
I explained that it stood for "Army Post Office," that I had returned from Vietnam a couple of days earlier, and that I would change it in about a month, when I got to my next post, in Arizona.
But *this* trooper wasn't saluting any flags, and as he handed me my ticket he said, "Mr. Hendricks, you were safer in Vietnam than you are out here doing 80 miles per hour on our highways."
- In 1975 I got a break from a state trooper, not in the form of forgiveness, but in the form of breaking procedure. Driving north at night on I-95 in South Carolina (again!) I was stopped for speeding. I have no idea now what the limit was or what my speed was. The trooper told me to follow him and we drove to the home of a Justice of the Peace.
We pulled up to the house, the trooper walked up to the front door, and I waited in my car. After a minute the trooper approached me and said, "He's not home. Now what I'm *supposed* to do is drive you to the jail and keep you until the JP gets home. But if you'll tell me that you will pay this fine then I'll give you a ticket and you can mail it in."
I did, he did, and I did, you betchum, Red Ryder.
- Several years later - I can't place it exactly - I got the only speeding ticket I didn't pay. I was driving south on I-95 in Maryland, on the way to visit my brother, when I got pulled over for speeding. I don't remember the numbers but my offense was not particularly egregious, as I was not in the passing lane and was just doing whatever the traffic was doing.
Parked at the side of the road was a string of cars and several cruisers. All the cars had plates from states other than Maryland. I'd been caught in a speed trap set for out of state drivers only, and those with Maryland plates were allowed to drive at speeds for which we were stopped and ticketed.
I accepted the ticket silently and held on to it for a week or so, until I had returned to Massachusetts. At that point I just tore it up.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Now that I'm closing in on a hundred, I am a more careful driver, but there was a period of a few years when you might easily catch me driving too fast, roughly in my twenties and early thirties.