Roamy keeps bugging me to tell stories about my time in the Army. The problem is, I told all the interesting stories way back in the first year of the blog. The fact is, most of my time in the Army was a 9 to 5 job.
Round about 1997 or so, when I was on recruiting duty, I had to run up to the Military Entrance Processing Station for the Greater Chicago area, which is just outside the perimeter of O’Hare airport in a township called Des Plaines. It was a good 2 and a half hour drive from our recruiting station in northwest Indiana. Of course, everyone drove their government issue cars like maniacs, so it was closer to 2 hours even.
Now, Company and Battalion pounded into us at every opportunity that getting a ticket while driving a government vehicle was the most horrific thing ever, worse than kicking a puppy. Woe betide the recruiter that got a ticket. On the other hand, woe betide the recruiter that spent more than two hours getting up to MEPS….
So it came to pass that I was haulin’ ass up to Des Plaines, on the Tri-State Expressway. And busily weaving through traffic in a manner that exemplifies poor road manners. And thus came to the attention of the Illinois State Police. As I saw the blue lights flash in the rear view mirror, a heavy pit formed in my stomach. As I coasted to the side of the road, I trembled in fright. What would the chain of command do when I got a ticket for 88 in a 55? Bend my dog tags? Stamp my meal card “no dessert?”
I pulled my license, and then kind of got to wondering just where was the registration for a GSA vehicle? I knew the US government was self insured, but I don’t think it ever occurred to me to even look for the registration. And there was no real proof written anywhere that I was, in fact, authorized to operate the vehicle. Was I going to get hauled off to jail?
Crap! The guy I was going to pick up wasn’t even MY recruit! It was one of the other recruiters in the office. Why did I get stuck playing taxi driver? Whatever excuse the other recruiter had, it wasn’t good enough, or I’d remember it.
A glance in the rear view mirror showed the Smokey hat and mirrored sunglasses being donned, and soon, an old an wizened Trooper began his walk to the driver side window. I rolled down the window preparing my excuses.
1. It wasn’t me!
2. I didn’t do it!
3. The sun was in my eyes!
4. These four cylinder Chevy Corsicas just have way more power than I’m used to !
5. I was chasing Illinois Nazis!
Long service with senior NCOs prompted me instead to follow another course of action. I kept my damn mouth shut.
The Trooper leaned into the open driver side window and pronounced my fate…
“Slow the hell down, son!”
He turned, walked back to his cruiser, and rode off into the sunset.
I rode off too. About 30 miles an hour slower than I had been going.