I swear it’s in here somewhere, Officer.

Aesop had a really funny post wherein he … well, go read it yourself. I’ll wait.

Back? He managed to avoid a ticket through nerves of steel. I, on the other hand, used my pitifulness.

For a while I was driving a real beater, a 1981 Volvo 240 DL that had been rode hard and put up wet. While the engine and transmission were still clicking along at 200,000+ miles, the rest of the car was always questionable. You never knew what might fall off on any given day.

So I was leaving work one day with fifteen minutes to get to my destination. The only problem was that my destination was twenty minutes away. About 100 feet from the parking lot, I went over a railroad crossing and lost my muffler.

“WAUGHHHH”, said the Volvo, only louder. Great, I thought. At least the sound of me coming will be there on time.

Onward I sped in my tired, 20 year old Swedish steed to my rendezvous with destiny – in this case a ___ County Sheriff’s Deputy. She topped a hill and, while I might normally have slid past without a second glance, the awesome full throated roar of that 2.4 liter, unmuffled four cylinder engine kind of caught her attention. I was already pulling over before she finished her 180.

While I was waiting for her to pull up behind me, I had time to wonder if the proof of insurance card that had come in the mail two weeks earlier was still at home. I also had time to start adding up the potential fines I was looking at.

“Good evening, sir,” said the Deputy. “You seem to be in a hurry.”

“Yes, Officer, I was on my way to church and was running a little late.” I’m sure that she’d heard this one before but in my favor 1) it was about 6 p.m. on a Wednesday and 2) it was the truth.

“Let me see your license and proof of insurance.”

“Yes, Officer. Here’s my license.” I’d fished my wallet out while waiting for her to walk up. “My proof of insurance is in the glove compartment.”

I waited a few seconds for an “OK”. When it didn’t come, I slowly reached over to open the glove compartment – and the door came off in my hand.

It took me a second to decide what to do with the door. I almost handed it to the Deputy, thought better of that, and then dropped it in the passenger’s seat.

“It’ll just take a minute, Officer,” I said as I pulled out a big wad of papers from the glove compartment. It’s amazing how much paper a glove compartment can accumulate in a few months. Against all odds, the insurance receipt was near the top. “Hear you go, Officer,” I said smiling nervously and then froze. “Sorry, Officer, this one’s from last year.”

The Deputy said nothing. I redoubled my efforts to find the elusive insurance receipt and never once looked up at her. I figured that they’re trained to see the fear in your eyes and I didn’t want to give her a good angle.

Every time I’d come to another insurance receipt, I’d be relieved just long enough to realize that it wasn’t current, either. It only took about two minutes to go through the whole stack of receipts. For a brief moment, I didn’t know what to do. Handing the mass of papers to the Deputy seemed to be as bad an idea as handing her the glove compartment door so I did the only thing I could think of – I started looking through the stack again.

“I know it’s in here, Officer. I’m sure that it is.” What I was sure of was that it was at home and I was about to get a huge fine. That didn’t stop me from frantically flipping papers.

Just then I heard the Deputy say, “That’s ok. Why don’t you put it all away and go on to church. Just slow down.”

“Yes, Officer. Thank you, Officer,” I repeated over and over while trying to stuff that big wad of paper into a glove compartment that didn’t have a door.

I may not have nerves of steel, but somewhere there’s a Deputy who still gets a chuckle out of a poor pitiful fool in a Volvo.

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