Many of the funny events that took place while I was a State Trooper seemed to happen at night. I don’t know if its because all the strange and unique people in the world come out at night or if its just a night thing. Whatever the reason is, I have had some strange, comical and even outrageous things happen on the evening or midnight shift. Here is one of my favorites that I like to call “Left Behind”
One night I got a call to be on the look out for an old fashioned “Woody Style” Station Wagon. You know the type, usually green with wood side panels. Its the station wagon made famous by Clark Griswold in the movie “National Lampoon’s Vacation”.
The dispatcher went on to explain that if you spot the vehicle, please stop the driver and let him know that he has left his wife behind at the last service plaza. More information was given that led me to be almost sure that I had just seen that vehicle pass me on the opposite side or the roadway.
After turning around, I finally caught the beast about 30 miles south of where he lost his wife. As I approached the drivers door (Listen to me, I still have that law enforcement descriptive commentator voice working like it did when I was a seasoned veteran) Well as I approached the door the middle aged man who was driving didn’t look too happy to see me. He began by saying “Officer I don’t know why you stopped me, but I know I wasn’t speeding”. “Did you stop me for speeding?” I answered no as I nodded my head and shined my flashlight into the vehicle. I could see that his station wagon was full of sleeping kids and children, all covered with blankets that were actually uglier than the car. I asked for his license just to make sure that he was the guy I needed to stop. No doubt about it, I had the right person. The only question now was how do I tell him the news that he had left his wife behind at a truck stop.
To give further clarification on how this happened in the first place, just imagine your driving down the road in your beautiful LTD Squire Deluxe Woody and all of sudden you have to go the bathroom. You pull into the rest area, right up to bathrooms by the gas station. Now everyone in the car is fast asleep and everyone is covered up with ugly blankets. What would you do? The same thing he did, get out and run to the restroom and let everyone sleep. Your in a well lit area that is very secure with an off-duty Trooper providing security, so like him you would go for it. The only thing that he didn’t imagine was that his wife needed to go also. And just as he ran through the men’s door, she got out and ran in the ladies side. Of course when he came back and got back into the car, he would have never noticed that she was missing because the blanket still covered the area where she was sitting.
Back to my traffic stop: Now, the man was really wanting to know why I stopped him. If he wasn’t speeding, then why did I pull him over. He began to ask me if it was his tail lights or his tag light, were they out? Is that why I stopped him? I just shook my head no and then I asked the million dollar question. “Mr, where is your wife?”. I can still see his face as he tilted it to one side with a very crooked smirk and said “My wife!” “Officer, what did she do now?” “Is this about the check that she bounced at the grocery store last week?” I almost lost it as he looked at me and said “You know some women aren’t very good with money” “She didn’t mean to do it” “I went to the store and covered it”. “it should be alright.” Without laughing, but wanting to very badly, I asked him once again “Mr. Where is your wife at?”. You’ve never seen more blankets being tossed around in a car in your life. I couldn’t let this go on any more so I stopped him from his mad search and said “Mr. the reason I stopped you was to inform you that you have left your wife behind at the last service plaza that you stopped at”. His face said it all, he was in big trouble and he knew it. By this time all four of his kids were half awake and asking where there mother was. Poor man, his kids poured it on even deeper, “Dad, how could you leave mom at a Truck Stop!!!” I felt a little bad for this guy. I just knew his wife was going to be fit to be tied when he showed up. I also knew at some point on the trip one of those little mouths was going to say “Mom, Dad told the Trooper all about your bounced check”.
In the end I was glad that I was able to help reunite this couple and get them back on the road of life again. I was also extremely thankful that I didn’t have to be at that plaza when he came back to pick her up. One thing that I am sure of is this; I bet the next time he needed to go to the bathroom while driving the family at night on vacation, he held it!