When a vehicle gets old, some of its gauges may start slipping enough to be unreliable. The failure of the one marked gasoline was the beginning of my adventure with two different police officers on one dark and cold evening.
I had left so late from my mother’s for the forty-mile drive down the mountain I needed every second to get to choir practice on time. It was an important rehearsal for the Christmas cantata. I even had the music with me on a little tape player. It seemed like a good time to go over some of the tricky alto parts.
One second I was rolling merrily along and the next I was coasting over to the side of the road. The fibbing gas gauge had tricked me. There was no such thing as cell phones in 1983. There was such a thing as prayer.
Dear Lord, I am in a predicament here. It is ice cold out there. No stars or moon offer light. Please send me some help. Thank you. Amen.
I switched on the music and began singing -- confident I would be rescued. In a few minutes the welcome blue lights were flashing in my rearview mirror. A kind looking officer in a Sheriff’s vehicle appeared at my window.
“What’s the trouble, Miss?”
“ I’m out of gas, so I was just sitting here singing and waiting for you to get here.”
He wasn’t sure how to answer that. He told me to get in his car and we would go to a little store a few miles away to get the needed fuel. Just as I was gathering up my purse, there was a loud squawking on his radio. He walked away in order to answer but he was back in a flash to tell me, “There's a burglary in progress up the road and I have to go this second. You just sit still and lock your doors and I’ll call the Highway Patrol to come and help you.”
“You be careful out there,” I yelled into the freezing air.
Things became so quiet all I could do was practice my alto part, and of course pray. More lights flashed in my mirror. This time a snappy looking State Patrolman marched up and informed me the Sheriff’s department had reported a stranded lady, but she was okay…and singing.
“Is this true, ma’am?” He seemed so serious I almost laughed.
“Yes, on both accounts.”
He pondered the situation for a second and then made a decision. “Come with me ma’am. I’ll take you to get gas.” I really wished he would stop calling me the “M” word. I wasn’t much older than he was.
I crawled in the front seat and fastened my seatbelt. I had never been this up close and personal with the inside of a cruiser. He explained how the radar clocked every car coming our way. He told me about his wife, and even his dog. I think it’s because I look like everybody’s sister.
After Officer number two finished adding a little high-octane moisture to my car’s dry tank, the felon-chasing Deputy Sheriff returned. His name was Jim. They chatted awhile and then the State Policeman left. I asked Jim if he had corralled his burglar.I felt sorry for him. He was a little embarrassed to say the man got away.
Not wanting to send me off into the night running on fumes again, he instructed me to follow him back to the same country store. That particular Mom and Pop must have wondered why this strange woman kept showing up with police people to buy unleaded.
I thanked Jim for his help and the five-dollar bill he gave me.
He explained,“ If my wife was stranded on the road, I would hope your husband would help if he happened by.” I don’t remember if I hugged him or not. I would now.
I was anxious to share this latest adventure with my spouse. “ You’ll never believe where I've been all evening; riding around in two different police cars.”
He never looked up from his book. “At the same time?”
“No -- first the State Police and then The Sheriff’s Department.”
“ Uh huh. Well, you knew there was a penalty for missing choir practice this close to performance. I guess they nailed you! “
I couldn’t hear what else he said. I was already in a hot shower — singing.
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