Let me rewind to our recent visit in Decorah and touch on a couple of less than magnificent moments in what was otherwise a truly wonderful visit. . .
Regret #1- My sister Randi was really laid up with some serious back trouble, although it did keep her from going into work, which actually gave us a little extra time with her. . . although it’s no fun when the person looks like they just sat on a bear trap. Next time we’re with Randi, I hope that searing agony will not have to be part of the picture.
Regret #2- I had hoped that I might be able to cross paths with Mr. Noble while we were there, if he happened to be in town. And when he answered his cell phone on the first ring and sounded like he was across the street, my hopes soared. But unfortunately, he answered the phone as he was about to board an airplane in Los Angeles, California. Oh well- we had a good chat.
Regret #3- Our niece Aidan was away at music camp, so we did not get to see her- although the silver lining in that was that we got to have perhaps a bit more time with her siblings. (The closest was getting to hear her singing via some recordings on Randi’s computer- – – the cyber equivalent of the proud parent who pulls out one of those accordian photo folders from their wallet.)
Regret #4- I had an unfortunate mishap while we were admiring Matt and Randi’s beautiful country home under construction. . . but I am forbidden to tell you about it. Suffice to say that there were no facilities available on site- and my attempt to take care of business behind a tractor out back was, shall we say, misguided. I wish I could say more, but it would be my luck that it ends up in the next issue of the Carthaginian under “Faculty News.”
Regret #5- This is the biggie. . . On our way back home, not long after we’d left the Decorah city limits and were whipping along on good old highway 9, I got on my cell phone and placed a call to best friend Marshall Anderson to tell him all about our visit. I guess talking with him got me excited (as usual) and I expressed that excitement with my foot on the accelerator (as usual) – – – until I saw the lovely sight of a patrol car with flashing lights in my rear view mirror.
I am no stranger to this particular scenario (my last such incident occurred on Palm Sunday when I was racing to Rockford to join the Carthage Choir in time for their evening concert) but this one was a bit different. The Iowa Highway Patrolman who pulled me over was a polite gentleman who was four days away from retirement. I liked that he began the conversation with “good afternoon, sir” rather than “thought you could get away with speeding, you pompous out-of-state punk!” And I managed to match him “sir” for “sir,” but more on that later.
He invited me to step out of our car and come back to his – which has never happened before, and for a fleeting moment I had visions of being dumped in the backseat in one of those cages you see on the evening news and transported to the state penitentiary for one of those “scared straight” experiences. But no, he invited me to sit on the passenger side of the front seat, so he could show me on his handy dandy laptop just how fast he had clocked me. . . 71 mph. Fortunately for me, he appreciated what seemed to be my genuine regret at having been speeding (between you and me, what I actually regretted was being caught) and decided to scale back my clocked speed to 65. . . 10 over the limit. . . which brought me down from a three-digit fine to a two-digit fine. As he was typing out the paperwork, I asked him if he still enjoyed his job after so many years, and he replied “I love it – but I certainly don’t enjoy giving tickets to people, and especially when they’re polite gentleman like yourself.” Most of the time when I’m pulled over, I felt like my politeness and penitent attitude did not make one flying fig of a difference in how things transpired, so it was nice to finally be pulled over by a cop who would give me points for my born-in-South-Dakota/raised-in-Iowa/goes-to-church-every- Sunday/cries-at-fourth-of-July-parades politeness. . . not enough to eliminate the ticket altogether, but enough to make it much less painful to the pocketbook. (The fine was $76, which is a lot of opera videos- but man alive, it could have been so much worse.)
pictured: my run-in with the law back on Palm Sunday. (I would have grabbed my camera for this latest incident, except that my wife was in the car with me and I do not want to think about how she would have reacted to me snapping pictures of my arresting officer. In the words of the familiar cliche, ‘let’s not go there.’ )