Monday, October 11, 2010

Only in a Small Town—or—Those men in Uniform

Getting up before the sun to take my husband to work is more often a rather dull part of the day.  The kids go from bed to back seat, complete with their blankets.  I don’t take many more steps than they do.  We often drive in sleepy silence.

The front gate where my husband works is manned by an armed guard or two.  This is a relatively new development, but already a few weeks in I guess the novelty has already worn off.  The men at the gate have, up until now, been more than friendly.  This morning, however, the guard would have said nothing at all if I had been quicker at getting my ID out.  He is actually the first to check my ID with my husband in the car.

On our way out, the gate was opened.  Usually it is not.  I made my way slowly, in case they did want me to stop.  One hollered at me.  Hollered!  Then the man who’d checked my ID not five minutes before approached and said, ‘oh, your the…’  That is nice.  I don’t mind many titles of spouse-hood, but ‘the wife’ is not a favorite.  I drove away thinking that if they wanted me to stop, they should have lowered the gate.

I made my way through the inky black morning, with the stream of oncoming lights.  I really don’t like driving in the dark, especially when I can’t use my brights to navigate.  My vision just isn’t what it should be.  I prayed as I tightly gripped the wheel with my hands and the white line with my eyes.  My biggest fear lies in the other drivers.  They are all on their way to work, and have traveled this route countless times.  They speed and pass without a care on the winding road.

Then we had a bit of a surprise.  There were flashing lights of a police vehicle facing me in my lane and a long string of headlights in the other at a full stop.  What were the moving silhouettes between all the lights and us?  Cattle.  Yep.  Cattle.  A dozen or two cattle just taking a little morning stroll around the road.  It was so very silly.  I laughed with the kids and told them this wouldn’t happen in a city like Sacramento. 

The police car slowly came forward, moving into the correct lane and passed me.  Before I could think about how far he would go, my laughter turned to a moment’s fear as the cows crowded my van, showing no signs of stopping.  Just minutes before I way praying for safety as I forced myself to go the speed limit with my babies in the back.  Never had I considered having to protect my children from farm animals while at a full stop!  I wasn’t sure what would happen if the cows behind the ones right at my fenders pressed in. Would they be forced to go ‘up?’ I flashed my lights—revealing so many more of these big beasts than I realized had been there—and lowered my window, hoping the police officer, now out of his car, would tell me what to do.

“Good morning.”  It is good to be casual in times like these, yes?  I don’t want to reveal my city-girl inclinations.  It’s perfectly normal to come across livestock blocking the highway.  He smiled as he waved his flashlight and spoke to the herd to turn them around.  He told me to go ahead forward slowly and just ‘make my way through them.’  Sure.  I do this every day.

I obeyed and inched along behind the cattle as they meandered back up the road a bit.  We (I am now one of the herd?) stopped as another patrol car blocked my lane and we came within several yards of the oncoming traffic that hadn’t yet moved.  Then the police car in front of me blared with the voice of its driver, ‘If you would just stop driving and let us do our jobs…’  Goodness!  I guess he is not a morning person.  Or doesn’t communicate well with his partner—or the public.

I am such a goody-two-shoes, I have always gone out of my way to show proper respect and obedience to those in authority.  I got detention once throughout all my school career and I totally didn’t deserve that!  Being scolded by not one, but two men in uniform before I even had breakfast was a bit surprising.  I wanted to tell him that I was only doing what the first officer had told me to do. 

Thankfully, I am all mature and grown-up now, so these things don’t really bother me. 

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