I’m not that good at swearing.
I’m kind of a late bloomer, and I probably shouldn’t even admit in public that foul language has ever crossed my lips. I blame it on the culture I’m surrounded by—and my husband. If he hadn’t driven through Arkansas, then my lips would still be pure as the driven snow.
Oklahoma is my friend. Oklahoma has a speed limit of 70 mph. You can cross their windmill scattered prairies at a pretty good clip and not get pulled over by bored state troopers. Not so in Arkansas. In Arkansas they believe that I-40 is their personal property and will punish out-of-state drivers for using it.
We were on a not-so-fun trip to Atlanta where my husband would soon undergo heart surgery. Rob has feet that are not made of lead, and the only time he drives over the speed limit is, well, never actually. He is the world’s safest driver.
But at the border of Arkansas, on Interstate 40 as you leave Oklahoma, the posted speed is 60. That info is followed immediately by a giant billboard declaring “No Tolerance”, complete with a state trooper parked directly beneath it, radar gun aimed across the dashboard at innocent drivers in Oklahoma. Now, come on. Not even the turtle crossing the finish line in front of the hare could have slowed down ten miles an hour before he passed that billboard!
And that, my friends, is the definition of “No Tolerance”. Don’t take a chance on Arkansas. Trust me—they are not tolerant.
The cop flipped on his lights, spun around in the dirt like he’d just caught sight of O.J., and pulled us over in front of God and everybody. Way to go, Barney Fife, I thought wryly. You just stopped Andy.
He swaggered up to our aging blue Ford Expedition, leaned in on one arm through the open driver’s window, and announced to my husband, “You, uh, were doing five over the limit there. You wanna come with me?” And he turned back to his squad car where, in a matter of a few seconds, he seated my potentially felonious husband next to him in the front seat while checking out our license plate.
He seemed a little disappointed, I later discerned, to discover that our suburban race car was delivering us to a waiting surgeon and not a gang of bank robbers. In short order, as his instincts were unarmed by my husband’s good citizenship and southern manners, the cop wearied of intimidating him and let him go with a warning.
I should have been pleased. I should have kept my mouth shut. I did neither. I was furious.
I dare not say here in public all the blasphemous and shocking terms that emerged from my mouth once my husband re-buckled his seat belt in his own truck. I have no excuse. And, in some religious circles, I also lost my salvation. But I did get satisfaction, even with the doors closed and the windows rolled up.
“What if he heard you?” Rob said to me in shock. “This is the reason I talk to officers, and you don’t!”
Which kind of didn’t make any sense, since that sounded like I don’t get pulled over by cops and he does. But it didn’t stop me. It didn’t even slow me down. I called that guy in the flashing car every name I could think of. Of course, it took a while. I’m kind of inexperienced. Rob just rolled his eyes as my potty mouth spit out bad words in staccato.The next morning I remembered one I’d forgotten and then I called him that one, too. Finally I texted my best friend and told her I’d just cussed out a state trooper in Arkansas.
“To his face?!?!?” she texted incredulously.
“No, to Rob’s face.” I wrote back. Geez, what does she take me for, a dope?
The next morning we left Arkansas in a driving rain and crossed briefly into Tennessee’s friendly 70 mph arms. I rolled down my passenger window, leaned out into the downpour and yelled at the top of my lungs,
“Good-BYE, Arkansas!” and then pulled my dripping head back inside and rolled up the window.
Bet they don’t pull us over anymore. Especially since Arkansas is now on our ‘no drive’ list. Rob’s still afraid that guy might have heard me.