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Run in with a State Trooper
It was 9:00PM on a crisp winter night illuminated by a near full moon. I was heading east on I-70 to Eric and Caroline's in Effingham. The speed limit was 65 and I was driving 82. No, 83. No, 82. I had no need for cruise control.

I passed a white Chevy Impala who fell in line behind me. He was a cunning driver who followed me but gave me plenty of space, an excellent strategy since it allows the leading speeder to spring any speed traps. He stalked me from a distance for at least 20 minutes. I know this because watching the mirror is one of the more mentally stimulating activities available on a dark and inauspicious midwestern highway.

All of a sudden, something wasn't right with the picture stretched out in front of my headlights. Entering a lazy left turn, I noticed an 18-wheeler quickly but smoothly switching into the left lane. There was no one in front of him so I knew he was switching out of courtesy to some poor bloke on the shoulder. It could have been anyone but instinctively, I lifted up on the gas.

As the towering truck continued around the curve, I saw the bright red brake lights of a car on the shoulder, glowing like an evil beacon. I too switched to the left out of courtesy, then carefully watched the car as I passed. My suspicions were confirmed as I passed a State Trooper in a white Dodge Charger, sporting Illinois' yellow and brown state trooper stripe along it's shoulder line.

The adrenaline began to pump and my senses heightened as time slowed. Thanks to engine braking and my symmetrical AWD, I heard the whir of the gears winding down as the car coasted to 75, then 70 without touching the brakes. My eyes were riveted to my mirror as I switched back to the right lane.

The Impala passed the trooper and caught up to me. My avoidance of the brakes had caught the Impala off guard and he hadn't slowed much. I saw the trooper pull onto the highway and begin to follow us. What would he do?

My eyes remained focused on the trooper as the drama unfolded, like lasers painting the target of a guided missile in my mirror. Seconds passed, though they seemed like minutes or even hours in my adrenaline rushed mind. In that moment, my mind felt synchronized with the Impala driver. "Who would it be?"

Suddenly, an explosion of red and blue lights erupted from the trooper as he picked his target. In utter disbelief, neither car slowed down. The trooper was not pleased by this reaction and responded to the silent, "Who me? Couldn't be!" with flashing high beams.

The target was not me. As reality set in, the Impala began to slow and our mind meld was broken by the increasing distance. Even so, I knew what the Impala driver was thinking: "Why isn't HE getting pulled over?"

In the remaining 30 minutes of my trip to Effingham, I replayed the event in my mind. I can only surmise that the cop had clocked me with his radar gun after I had slowed down and then clocked the Impala before he had slowed down. If that truck had been in a slightly different position, if my instinct had kicked in a second later, if the Impala had been following a little closer or a little farther, if I had been using cruise control...

There were many tiny factors that created a perfect storm for that Impala. Perhaps one day we will meet again and the tables will be turned.
Posted 01/21/2009 09:34 PM in Cars, Ramblings, Travel | Total Comments: (2)
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Reminds me of
my August 2007 encounter with a drunk arsonist. Thankfully, your encounter did not involve crashing.
Submitted by Ben I. on 01/22/2009 10:26 AM

drunk arsonist?
I once encouuntered an apparently drunk group that threw a flaming tennis shoe out the window when I was following them.
Submitted by phil on 01/22/2009 04:58 PM

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