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Stopped 'in the name of the law'

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Excuse me if I refuse to believe there's a gasoline shortage.

So far, and this includes a special trip Friday afternoon after seeing gas lines on TV news, I've had no trouble driving right up to Shelbyville gas pumps without waiting in line.

TV news is going to pump this for all it's worth to build ratings, just like the mere threat of a snowflake sends news anchors into a you-must-go-to-the-store panic.

As far as actual gas shortages, I've been there, done that.

Example: 1979, when a truckers' strike cut gas supplies.

I remember well waiting in line for a long period of time at what was for a few moments the only station in Shelbyville with gas. Remember the Workingman's Friend, the little gas station on Madison roughly where World Champion Horse Equipment is now? Cheap gas that you didn't really trust, but it worked in a pinch.

But I didn't fill up there that day, even though I almost reached the pumps.

One driver, caught on the other side of two lines headed into the station, apparently couldn't get anyone to let him out. So a deputy sheriff, an older man who apparently didn't like 19-year-olds (and who has been retired for many years), told me to leave the line despite the fact I wasn't blocking the driver in, as I quite loudly pointed out.

"You can go to the back of the line," the deputy said.

It probably never crossed the deputy's mind that all I had to do was sit there for a moment and let the man through.

Like a good, law-abiding citizen, I moved on.

But not without a parting shot. And keep in mind that I strongly support law enforcement. This guy had gone just a little too far, though.

As I drove away without the gas I'd waited more than 30 minutes for, I yelled out at the deputy.

"You son-of-a-...!!!"

Let's just say I unintentionally insulted his momma, although I really didn't have her in mind at all.

Any Southern boy like me should have realized, though, you don't take insults to Momma lightly.

The deputy, who was outside his patrol car, grabbed his gun and started chasing me on foot down the street.

"Stop in the name of the law! Stop in the name of the law!" he yelled.

And I always thought only Barney Fife actually used that phrase.

Since the deputy was waving his gun -- accidentally loosening his pants in the process of pulling his weapon -- I figured I'd better stop in the name of the law.

"Boy! Don't you talk 'bout my momma like that!," the deputy said, pulling his pants up from his knees as the people in the gas line laughed their heads off.

I wasn't laughing, since the deputy still had a hand on his gun.

So I patiently explained that I wasn't literally talking about his momma, that what I yelled was just an expression, and that I was sure she was an all-American girl who'd baked him apple pies and kissed him when it hurt.

Eventually I drove away while he rambled -- okay, actually I spun out a little -- leaving the deputy standing there fuming. Fortunately, I had a police scanner with me, just as I carry now, and heard moments later that gas was being delivered to another station. Yes, I got there quickly.

I later found out the deputy had pulled me out of line simply because I was the youngest driver there. Age has its privileges, I guess.

Today's officers -- and myself as a more mature adult, hopefully -- would likely handle such a situation much better.

So, good luck with any gas lines you encounter. And, if you see a law enforcement officer, put in a good word for their momma.

-- David Melson is copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette. He can be reached at dmelson@t-g.com.



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David Melson
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