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J.R. Buchanan


Damn Yankee, or A Heap Of Trouble Part II

Around 1991 I took a trip from Westfield Indiana (just north of Indianapolis) down to Atlanta Georgia.

I was driving my 1990 S10 pickup, and since it was the middle of winter, I had a wooden box fastened between the wheel wells and filled with bricks and concrete blocks. For those who live in areas without snow, 2 wheel drive pickups need a bunch of weight added in the bed to get anywhere in the winter.

Down in Tennessee in one of those hilly areas blasted out of the sides of mountains and lesser hills, my radar detector went off. I slowed down to 55 right away and stayed there, It kept going off for a long time, the rock walls must have reflected the signal for miles.

Then suddenly the level shot right up as I saw the cop aiming the gun straight at me.

I felt safe, I was going the speed limit.

To my surprise, he pulled out and puled me over. He asked me how fast I was going, and I told him the truth, 55mph. Of course I didn't mention that I had been going 70 until some miles back when the radar detector went off.

He claimed to have clocked me at 65 mph, and got quite sarcastic about why I'd have a radar detector and then go the speed limit, and how he guessed that that radar detector didn't do me much good.

He peppered his speech with the term "Yankee", which I did not find reassuring.

Then he looked in the back of the truck and said, "That's quite a load of masonry you're carrying there". I tried to explain what it was for, but he shut me up by asking what he would find if he felt my brakes, would he be able to cook eggs on them? After all Yankees don't know how to drive in the mountains.

He proceeded to feel my brakes, and was quite disappointed, as I'm sure they were cool. I hadn't been riding them down the grades, I had been using engine compression. I hadn't touched the brakes until he pulled me over.

He proceeded to call me a Yankee a few more times and wrote me up for 65 mph.

Later I paid the ticket by mail, by the time the court date came up, I was back in Indiana, and it didn't seem worth a trip to Tennessee to get railroaded like I had years before for the headlight incident.

The good news: At that time, despite claims of a reciprocal agreement, the ticket never showed up on my driving record. Good, as I had managed to avoid a ticket for over three years at that point and wanted to keep my license clean. Insurance was starting to become affordable.