Crow's-Feet Chronicles: Singin' the rookie blues
By Cindy Baker Burnett
Mar 12, 2018
Print this page
Email this article

Lanny Joe let his foot off the accelerator when we entered the city limits of Ralls, Texas, just 29 miles east of Lubbock. Not qui-i-i-te soon enough, though. I'll bet the patrol car's flashing colors against the West Texas sunset rivaled the Northern Lights. 

“See if you can hypnotize him, Lanny,” I suggested while he stopped the car and I pulled the proof of insurance from the glove compartment. “I read an article written by a sociology major who plays mind games with the cops and they forget why they stop him.” 

“Oh sure,” Lanny said dryly. “And if it doesn't work, will he still wet the bed?” 

I understand why police officers have to be cautious, but I chuckled to myself when I made a mental inventory of the contents of our car. The closest thing to a weapon we had was a pound of Smoked Pepper Jack Cheese. As the young cop (half the size of my 9-year-old granddaughter) pressed his back to the side of our car and began sliding toward the driver's window, I could feel his little rookie heart beating and praying that Lanny wasn't going to greet him with an AK-47. 

Before the officer could say a word, Lanny handed him his driver's license and proof of insurance. The poor guy wasn't going to let Lanny cheat him out of his practiced spiel. “Sir, could I see your driver's license and proof of insurance?” 

“Yeah, that's what I gave you. You're holding them in your hand.” 

“Oh, okay. Yeah, this is what I need.” Poor thing. His hand was shaking. “Sir, I … I... clocked you at … 63 in a 55-mph speed zone.” There. He'd said it. 

I was reminded of the story about the rookie cop who was on patrol with an experienced officer. A call came in telling them to disperse some people who were loitering. The officers drove to the street and observed a small crowd standing on a corner. The rookie rolled down his window and said, “Let's get off the corner, people.” There were a few glances, but no one moved. So, he barked again. “I SAID let's get off that corner! NOW!” Intimidated, the group of people began to leave, casting puzzled stares in his direction. Proud of his first official act, the policeman turned to his partner and asked, “Well, how did I do?” 

“Pretty good,” chuckled the vet, “especially since this is a bus stop.” 

“Well, sir,” said Lanny, humbly. “The sun was in my eyes, and I guess I wasn't aware that we were already in a town.” Weak, Burnett, weak. Rookie Ricardo scurried back to his patrol car and crawled inside, locking all doors. Waiting on him to process the offense, I had time to rearrange the contents in my purse, push back my cuticles, rotate and pop both ankles, and make two Cajun turkey and cheese sandwiches for Lanny and me. We ate both sandwiches, and I made a second for Lanny. 

I could imagine the problems Rookie Rick must have been having with the computer system and printer in his patrol car. Either that, or he was so excited with his first traffic violation that he had to call his mom with the good news. “Mama, I got one! Yeah, this old cowboy was speeding and I made him pull his junker over and stop. He was scared, I tell ya. Hey, Mama, I may be a little late for supper—I'm gonna try to get me another one. Bye-bye, Mama.” 

The half-pint with the tell-tale Kool-Aid upper lip finally came back to the car. “My dad's name is Lanny, so I'm not sure I want to give you a ticket.” He looked at me and asked, “And what is your name, Ma'am?” 

“Cindy. But my friends call me Lanny.”