Feelin’ “The Heat!”

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“Wrong Turns Write Life”

I was in a melancholy mood when I went to the post office. I had to pay a speeding ticket I received in a little town in Illinois named Galena. I was convinced that I was a victim of a speed trap. However, I was sure there would be hell to pay if I challenged this officer after what I had unknowingly done to him.

Our family of four was on the first-day drive of our vacation across the country. After high winds and plenty of ugly gray windmill farms throughout Indiana and Illinois, we were happy to be closing in on our first destination. The road was winding through trees, up and down hilly countryside, when I saw the new speed limit sign. It was about the same time a patrol car passed from the opposite direction. I didn’t see the cruiser brake, slow, or turn around through my rear-view mirror.

We rounded the bend and turned the music back up.

The GPS provided our navigation and we listened to Holiday Road by Lindsey Buckingham – a fitting song if you ever saw National Lampoon’s Vacation. Bobbing our heads and singing along, we drove over the hill and became mesmerized by a picturesque town ahead.

The hillside view of Galena was just gorgeous!

Our vehicle echoed with, “Look at THIS town, check out the building over there, no –look at that, we need a picture.”

The spontaneity quickly turned to, “Stop there, no –turn there, turn again…”

“WAIT! There’s a cop behind us with his lights on.”

I pulled into a roadside parking space as I replayed our course in my mind. I could only imagine that I must have rolled through a stop sign.

I rolled my window down, feeling the heat and precipitation only it had nothing to do with the muggy weather. This officer was in my ear, spitting and shouting like my old drill sergeant would to his recruits.

“Don’t they pull over to the right in Ohio!” he hollered. It wasn’t a question.

I thought this guy was gasoline and I was a lit match, so I proceeded with caution and kindness. But he’d have none of it except my license, registration, and proof of insurance.

He remained livid and shouted plenty more before storming back to his cruiser.

Then, we waited …and waited …and waited.

Meanwhile, I had to explain to my nine-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son that their dad was not going to jail (at least, I didn’t think I was) but was most definitely going to get a ticket. My mind drifted to paying a fine and whether or not my insurance rate would increase. What a way to blow the budget on the first day of vacation!

The policeman returned, and the puzzle pieces fell into place as he rattled on in a huff and a puff that suggested a lot more going on in his life than this. Here, it turned out he had been in the cop car I thought didn’t turn around wa-a-a-ay back on that country road. Now, even though we were playing the radio loud, I’m pretty certain we would have heard a siren if he had it on, especially when we slowed for the town’s speed limits. And the music only blared for a moment anyway because the kids would have complained otherwise. His flashing light was not one mounted to the exterior of the car. Rather, it was flashing from the interior. By my estimation, the officer ensued in what was a low-speed-chase covering a couple miles. He was convinced he was “chasing” defiant tourists when, in actuality, our attention had been bent on taking photographs.

Ticket apparent, I said as little as I had to when he returned to my window. I just listened to him seethe in never-ending anger.

Later, I read in a magazine that Galena was one of the hundred places I must see before I die. I also read that the town was notoriously known for its speed trap. There seemed to be a hundred or more complaints online just in July alone!

We never did take a picture of it!

By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun! 

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“Wrong Turns Write Life”

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