Dream of: 06 January 1996 "What A Hassle"

 My mother and I were riding in an older model white car along a paved country road in rural northern Kentucky. However, neither of us were in the driver's seat: my mother was seated in the front passenger seat, while I was in the rear seat directly behind the steering wheel. I wanted my mother to scoot over and start driving the car, but since she wouldn't, I began trying to drive the car by reaching over the back of the front seat and grabbing the steering wheel. However I was faced with an obvious problem: my feet couldn't touch the pedals on the floor. The problem was now becoming acute, because just ahead of us was a red stop light, and a car was stopped in our lane. I clutched and pulled on the steering wheel as hard as I could, almost willing the car to slow down, finally swerving our car to the left of the car in front of us and managing to grind to a halt.

Only when I had finally stopped did I realize the other car stopped at the light was a police car. I watched apprehensively as a stout young police officer (probably in his mid 20s) stepped out of his car and walked back to the driver's side of our car. He began talking, but he didn't seem to have any questions about who was driving. Nor did he say anything about the way we had come to a stop to the left of his car. Instead, he told me he was going to give me a ticket for a completely unrelated offense.

The officer then explained that my car contained more "business items" than was allowed. Still not comprehending what the officer was talking about, at his direction I stepped from the car, walked to the back and opened the trunk for him. I knew that my mother and I were returning from a store where we had done some shopping and that we had put our purchases in the trunk. When I opened up the trunk, the officer explained that because my car only had two springs in its suspension system, I was only allowed to be carrying two new purchases. Thoroughly flummoxed, I looked in the trunk and told the officer that we indeed had only purchased two items on our shopping trip.

Lying in the trunk was a plastic foam mat which I had had for quite a while, and which was blue on one side and pink on the other. I picked it up and told the officer that the mat was one of the items I had just purchased. But I immediately realized I had misspoken, that I hadn't meant to say that I had just purchased the mat, but had meant to say that I had had it for a long time. Now, as I tried to take back what I was saying, I could feel that the officer thought I was lying, and I would now have difficulty proving that I only had two new purchases.

Plus I saw another problem. The two purchases which I had made were a gallon can of paint and something else. But in addition, I had also bought a third item, which was so small and insignificant I didn't think it should even be counted as a purchase. But there it was, lying in the trunk: the top of a sprayer, the kind of sprayer which might fit into a top of a bottle of window wash to spray the washing fluid on windows. I had intended to use the sprayer to spray paint. It was such a trivial thing, I wanted to ignore it completely.

But I could see that the officer wasn't paying further attention to anything I had to say anyway. He was determined to give me a ticket, and was already walking back toward the front of the car. I followed him, and again I got into the back seat. My mother was still sitting there, and I told her I was angry at her because she hadn't scooted over into the driver's seat when I had wanted her to. I felt like this whole thing was her fault.

I was also thinking to myself that if I received a ticket, I might simply not pay it and let it go to warrant status. I was rarely in Kentucky, so if a warrant were issued for my arrest, it would probably never be served. And if it were finally served, by the time I was arrested the case might be so old it would never go to court.

Meanwhile the officer walked up on the driver's side, climbed into the front seat and sat behind the steering wheel. I quickly began pleading with the officer. I pointed out that we were just talking about a technical infraction here, and that it wasn't necessary for him to give me a ticket. I begged, "Can you give me a break?"

But the officer, haughty and uncaring, would have none of it. Instead, he talked about how overloaded my car appeared. Apparently he had earlier been driving behind me and had noticed the car. He also now seemed interested to know who had actually been driving the car.

Then, without warning, the officer suddenly started the car up and began pulling forward. Almost immediately he lost control of the car, smashing into a small pole, continuing into a weedy ditch, scrapping the bottom of the car twice on the ground, and finally running over a small tree. In an instant the face of the officer had changed from that of a bossy authoritarian to that of a fear-stricken, sniveling wimp. He whined, "I'm sorry."

My attitude had also dramatically changed in an instant. I blurted out that simply being sorry wasn't going to get it. Opening my door and jumping from the car, with barely-contained glee, I quipped, "Did I mention I was a lawyer?"

Happy to see that the tables were clearly turned, I was already contemplating a law suit against the officer and the city for whom he worked. Looking over the car, I could clearly see the damage. The car, which was actually my red BMW, was sitting in the ditch with the bottom bent and dented. Both tires on the driver's side were flat.

Looking around me, I glanced back at the intersection. I now saw that we actually appeared to be in a small town, with several buildings along the streets. I also noticed that some people were walking on the street, and that other people had stopped their vehicles at the intersection. I realized the most important thing I could do now was to secure the names of any witnesses of the accident before the witnesses had a chance to disappear. The first person I noticed was a young girl (about 10 years old) in a pink dress. She was probably too young, but I thought I should nail down her name anyway. I also saw a man sitting on a large tractor, the big kind with windows. I thought he had probably seen what happened.

But before I could approach either of them, three sturdy men probably in their late thirties and wearing work clothes walked up. I anxiously asked, "Did you see what happened?"

It quickly appeared that all three of the men had seen what had happened, and all were ready to help me, although one of them didn't want me to give the officer a hard time.

I turned to the fellow nearest me, who turned out to be rather obtuse, and asked him if he had seen the accident. When he replied that he had, I realized I needed something to write on. Spying a small spiral notepad in his brown shirt pocket, I perfunctorily asked if I could use the notebook and then clumsily grabbed it from his pocket. The stolid fellow didn't object, and I opened the pad to a blank page.

I asked the fellow his name and when he replied, I wrote down "Samuel Hassle." But the fellow corrected me and I changed the last name to "Hassard." I also noticed that I was writing particularly badly, and that perhaps I should print the name rather than write it. But instead I raced ahead, asking the fellow's phone number and writing it down. I didn't hear the number clearly, but thought the fellow said, "221-4242." However I didn't write down the entire number. I only wrote "2 -4242." I wanted to ask the fellow to repeat the number, so I could be certain I heard the first three numbers correctly.

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