WAITING, WANTING PEACE

I’ve had it. I need a quiet place, and this is good as any. Here in this room, at this keyboard.

I understand they’ve had a little snow up north, gone now, certainly. The birds, certain species, will wing their way MY way soon. I will watch for them. I will go out through the kitchen and the Florida room and the shed and stand in the backyard and watch the telephone wire for those friends. I will not, if I can help it, pay much of any attention to the painful spectacle unfolding in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. It all comes under the heading: ELECTION AFTERMATH.

The hopes of millions dashed. The hopes of the other millions enflamed, aroused. Will there be blood? They will — those who hate him — be done with the President they hate. The President they hate will not go quietly (why should he? The whole ballot box fandango is unfolding at this moment exactly two decades into the 21st Century. It’s for the birds. It’s medieval. Everything, as far as I’m concerned, is for the birds at this time.

I shall wade out into the mists. I shall wait for the tide. I shall walk a forest path. I will sit in a cabin and listen to music on some little machine. I shall cease to think about politics. Somewhere the smoke is coiling up from some village where war and politics are unknown….no there is no such place. Shangri-la, maybe. No…real….place.

And though I have no particular need to engage on these matters, hell, I’m an American. It’s there, like Everest.

The other night, just driving to dinner in the stalled fury of a Pinellas County late rush hour, shortly before dark descended ( and it was coming fast) I did a needless and impetuous things. Stopped in a line of traffic at a light at a massively and constantly busy intersection, seeing there was maybe just enough space for me to squeeze into the long left-turn jug handle in time to catch the left turn light, I commenced to edge forward to squeeze through, but, seeing there was not enough space made the wise decision to –wait. Just wait. Waiting is good. Patience is good. I’ve done it for a million hours for sixty years at thousands of intersections….

So – what got into me? I thought, no, I don’t want to wait. And, probably only seconds before the light ahead would change and I would be free — I pulled left and bumped over the little curb and into the lane, free, and drove toward the changing left turn light.

Then noticed that a Largo, Florida police cruiser had been right behind me. Oh, God! Will he come after me? No, he hasn’t moved.

The light changed, he fell in behind me…..and in the middle of the intersection his red and blue lights went on. It has been years since I’ve seen that in my rear view mirror. I was simply on the way to dinner with Diane. Why did I do this stupid thing?

I pulled off into the gas station. The cruiser stopped behind me…there was that awful pause and anticipation for the approach by the officer. I had my license out. I was seeing a big fine, an increase in my insurance rate — just because of a stupid bump over a curb at an intersection where I’ve seen maniacal offenses by fellow drivers, such as running red lights and illegal turns.

Then,there was the hatless man in blue, smiling, a my driver’s window. Genuinely and benignly smiling, as if, the creased of that smile, to say, ‘why on earth did you ever want to do that with me right behind you?’

“Where are you going? What’s the hurry?”

Oh, how I needed to be able to tell him — chest pains — in me or my passenger. Agony from a kidney stone. Lady having a baby. So glad to see you officer, just the guy I need right now.,,…

But no! I had to say I was just going to dinner — to spend my hard earned money during Civid 19 indoors, risking the virus, spending money needlessly. The light was really fading now. And now– I couldn’t find my registration.

“Okay, well just look for your registration and proof of insurance. I’ll be right back.” And he was gone with my license, calling in, making sure I wasn’t a fugitive or driving a stolen car or in any of a million other ways on the wrong side of the law as well as, recently, on the wrong side of a five-inch barrier.

I had a long time to think about my life — in Florida for a year, in the middle of a Cold Civil War, in the middle of a pandemic, in limbo for all intents and purposes. But deep in Trump country and therefore in a good position to judge the earnest political desires of the people in those trucks and vehicles that had been streaming by me every day with those TRUMP banners fluttering.

Finally, the officer was back — to hand a very official looking WARNING. Then came a very human moment between the lawman and me. “You know,” he said, “you put me a very bad position back there.” (Yes, I had — doing a stupid thing he could not, in public, ignore). I then handed him my registration (which I’d found, Thank God) and an insurance card he told me was outdated. He instructed me how to get an up-to-date one. Then he said, “I don’t know how much you were going to spend on dinner, but this could have cost you $166.”

“Thank you so much,” I said. But in coming days, I would still obsess about my stupid, near costly move. And hopefully the insurance company will take no note of a traffic warning — involving so minor an offense. (And maybe part of me was thinking, ungratefully, that this could have been a less-official, ‘hey don’t do that again,” and “have a good night.”)

The officer wished us a good night with the routine verbal warning always to slow down, be safe. (I think I drive like an old lady. But a similar moment like this, and a failure to react quickly and move over for a stopped police vehicle cost me an excessive and thoroughly unreasonable $400 that I’ve never stopped resenting.

The officer might have envisioned a luxurious dinner plan on our part, but we were merely searching for a Mexican restaurant to satisfy Diane’s craving for that manner of cuisine. (Why, I’m thinking, am I out here in this traffic, risking a ticket, rattled and a little angry and not especially desirous of tacos etc.?)

It was completely dark now, and dangerous. And we wound up at a dumpy, brightly little, small little Mexican joint attached to a convenience store where virus infection seemed imminently possible and the food was — okay. But I had no traffic citation, no reason to be other than grateful and reminded of the virtues of common sense and patience — in traffic and in life.

So — birds, country lanes, snow on late fall foliage, silence, no cars, no intersections, no need for warnings.

That’s what I want. No election recount. I pray for you, Donald Trump, shorn of a second term by inches, detested by much of the multitude. But I’m sure you’ll remain in our public life. And — you haven’t lost yet. You’re — waiting.

I didn’t get the officer’s name. It on the warning in the trash next to me. I think I’ll just think of him as Officer Thank You.

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