Officer Bob Morgan is nearing the end his shift hoping he won't have to make another traffic ticket stop. Bob is a highway patrolman and this section of highway is his beat. He likes to refer to it as "his street". He doesn't like excessive speeding on "his street". He doesn't like to clean up crash sites on "his street". He hates to see drunks on "his street". In short, Officer Morgan likes things neat and orderly on "his street".
Over the years, Officer Morgan has met all kinds of people from the very nice to the 'I'd rather shoot them than talk to them' types. And then there's truckers. Ahh truckers..... Some are the scum of the earth, but most, he notes, are just out here earning a living, providing for their families, and just wanting to get through it all alive. Just like Bob.
This afternoon finds him just cruising along enjoying the beautiful summer day and taking in the familiar scenery. In the distance he sees a truck pulled over on the right shoulder with the left turn signal flashing. * * * * * Duke is parked on the side of the road with his four-way flashers on, engaged in that age old trucker's activity known as 'squirting the dirt', 'wetting a tire', 'tapping a kidney', or just plain 'draining some coffee'. He's standing between the tractor and the trailer in that space he likes to refer to as the bathroom. He looks out over his shoulder and takes in the vast open landscape behind him, hoping someday he can retire to someplace like this and do nothing all day but drink beer, smoke his Black Russian cigarettes, and watch the trucks go by - and not own a CB. Yes sir, life could be so much better.
As he backs out of the bathroom and zips up, he hears a vehicle pull up behind his truck. He can hear the small pebble gravel crunching under the tires. Ordinarily, with his truck running, he wouldn't hear a thing, but today he shut the engine off so as to better listen to the silence of the area. He loves it. * * * * * Since his shift is almost over, and it's such a nice day, Officer Morgan decides to pull over and check out this truck, maybe make some small talk with the driver, swap road stories, and kill some time. And who knows, maybe this driver actually could use some assistance.
* * * * * Duke takes a couple steps away from the truck and looks back to see who or what has pulled up behind him.
Oh no..... It's the damned cops. What the hell did I do this time? It's not illegal to pull over in an emergency - and this was an emergency. I hate these cops. They're always looking for ways to harass you.
Duke begins to walk to the rear of the truck, trying to work up the ideal opener.
* * * * * Officer Morgan decides to sit in his car for a moment before heading up to talk to the driver. After all, if it's a lady driver, and she's having one of those 'discrete' emergencies, he doesn't want to create an embarrassing situation. So he takes a moment to catch up on some of his paperwork, and call in to dispatch to let them know where he is.
* * * * * Look at this, Duke thinks. Typical cop. Waits for me to come to him. Well screw him. I'm going to go back to the cab. If he doesn't come up there shortly, I'm just going to leave. Yeah, that's it. That'll be great.
* * * * * Officer Morgan gets out of his car and begins to walk up the shoulder on the 'street' side, after first checking to make sure there is no traffic coming up behind him. No sign of the driver as yet.
* * * * * Duke rounds the front of his truck and there he comes face to face with the highway patrolman.
"Well howdy do, Officer Krumpke. Or is it Officer Friendly?", Duke asks sarcastically.
He reaches up and adjusts his cowboy hat down a little lower over his eyes, which are hidden behind his Mr. Cool mirrored sunglasses. His shirt is opened about three buttons from the top. Never know when you'll meet some chicks and need to look your coolest.
"What can I do for you today", Duke asks. "Or would it be more appropriate to ask what I did today?"
Duke pulls one of his Black Russians out of his pocket, places it off center in his mouth, reaches for a book of matches, deftly cups his hand to shield the lighted match from the breeze, and draws deeply on the cigarette as he lights it. The first puff of smoke narrowly misses Officer Morgan. Duke tosses the smoking match over his shoulder, all the while maintaining eye contact with the officer.
* * * * * Officer Morgan is momentarily put off, but carefully hides it.
What's up with this guy?, he wonders.
He greets Duke with a "Good afternoon sir. I just stopped to make sure you're all right. This is a pretty desolate area to be broke down, even in the daylight."
"Yeah?", Duke sneers. "I'll bet you're really stopping in hopes of catching me, how do you say, 'urinating in public'. Well you're too late. I'm not doing a thing, and you can't prove I did anything either."
Duke gets a big poop-eating grin on his face. Then he takes a deep draw on his Black Russian and blows the smoke out, which this time wafts directly at Officer Morgan. The officer moves his head to one side and lets the cloud drift by.
Officer Morgan thinks to himself, This guy is a moron. He can see this meeting is deteriorating quickly. He tries to think of something to say that will allow him to simply drive away and forget he even stopped.
"No, I actually did stop to check on your well being", Officer Morgan says.
"Right!", Duke says. "You guys are really concerned with my well being.". Another deep drag on his cigarette and another cloud of smoke erupts in Officer Morgan's direction. "There's dope dealers, killers, rapists, robbers, and all manner of desperadoes out there preying on society, and you want to hassle me because I have to stop and answer nature's call, which I'll never admit to, by the way. Who you think you're kidding?" Duke does one of those muffled giggles, which elevates his chin a bit as he lets out a mild 'hurrumph'. "Old Duke's been on the road too long to fall for that crap", Duke announces as he forms his hand into a fist with his thumb extended, which he uses to point at himself in a pumping gesture.
"Now if you don't mind", Duke says casually, "I've got things to do, people to see, and places to go." He starts to walk around Officer Morgan.
That's it!, Officer Morgan thinks.
"Hold on, driver. Let's see your driver's license and your medical card please. And while you're at it, please break out your registration papers as well. I'll need the papers for both your tractor and your trailer." Officer Morgan is dying to put a big poop-eating grin on his face as well, but manages to contain himself and puts forth the professional appearance expected of him.
"What?" Duke questions in an increasingly loud tone. "What's this for? I thought you were checking on my well being. My being is fine and now I've got to get going. This is beginning to look like harassment to me. Yeah, this is harassment. You said you just wanted to make sure I was all right and now......"
Officer Morgan cuts Duke off and says, "Your paperwork please".
Duke finds his license and medical card, which he all but tosses at the officer, and climbs into the cab to begin the search for all the stuff pertaining to truck registration. These guys are such jerks. Always hassling us for nothing. Why isn't he arresting some kids for stealing bubble gum or something? Damn, I hate this.
Duke steps out of the cab after finally finding all the necessary paperwork, only to find the officer standing down at the far end of his trailer, with a clip board in his hand. He's writing something as Duke walks down toward him.
"Now what're you doing?, Duke asks.
"Well, as long as we're here", Officer Morgan says, "I figure this is a good time for a quick roadside inspection. Try to relax, driver. This won't take long."
"Aw man....." Duke says.
* * * * * Finally, a half hour and several cigarettes later, Officer Morgan emerges from his patrol car with Duke's license, medical card, and a traffic ticket. In fact, two tickets.
"Mr. Slade", the patrolman says. "There were a few minor things I noted on your vehicle here..."
Duke interrupts with, "It's not my vehicle. It's the company's vehicle, and they're responsible for everything. I just drive it. What do you think is wrong with it?"
"There are a few minor things", he begins again, "that need to be fixed. Some are simple 'fix-it' ticket stuff, and a couple are mandatory repairs as soon as possible. Your vehicle is basically safe overall, and I'm not shutting you down, but do get this stuff fixed at your earliest convenience. There's a deadline date on the ticket for the important stuff."
Officer Morgan takes Duke around the truck and points out the various discrepancies and violations, including the burned out right turn signal bulb, burned out marker lights, a missing light from the license plate on the trailer, a fraying air hose, two barely legal tire treads, and lastly, excessive oil dripping from beneath the engine.
"Oh, and did you know you've only got a little over a week to go on your medical card?", Officer Morgan asks.
"Gimme that stuff", Duke says as he grabs the collection of paper from the patrolman. "What's this other ticket here?", he asks.
"Well Mr. Slade.... I've cited you for throwing lighted objects out of your window along the freeway. This time of year especially, this is a dangerous practice, and always against the law."
"What thu???", Duke stammers.
"I would have forgiven your light up when I first walked up, assuming you were a little nervous and didn't think about where you were. But the entire time I was in my car writing up the ticket fix-it stuff, you must have been chain smoking. I watched match after smoking match arc out of your window, followed by smoldering cigarette butts which we see here all over the ground. Look there - that one's still lit. I'm assuming that if you tossed all these butts out here, you're most likely doing it all along the road. I've written this ticket in the hopes you'll learn not to throw your cigarette butts out the window. Get yourself an ash tray or something, Mr. Slade. I don't want to watch my state burn down."
Duke was furious. It was tough to hold it in.
"How much is this ticket going to cost me?", Duke asked.
"I really don't know, Mr. Slade."
"More than twenty bucks?", Duke asks.
"As I said", Officer Morgan repeats. "I really don't know.
"Fine!", Duke says. He turns and climbs up into his truck.
* * * * * As officer Morgan walks back to his car, he allows himself to indulge a smile. A big smile takes over his entire face. In fact, a big poop-eatin' grin, most would say.
I wonder what my wife has planned for dinner tonight, he thinks.
For more articles on Duke go to http://www.truckerspage.com Duke and the Traffic Stop
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