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Mister Fog Made Me Laugh Out Loud
Thanks to my Mother, who followed in the footsteps of my Grandmother, there has always seemed to be a Reader’s Digest magazine laying around the house. I have read only a handful of the articles over the recent years, but I always seem to search through each issue for the little quips and stories at the end of most of the articles. Occasionally I even find myself laughing out loud when a humorous story catches me off guard.
This past Saturday I had the pleasure of taking my son Adam to the local Dollar Cuts for what LDS folks refer to as a Missionary haircut. While they were shaving Adam down to the skin on the back of his neck I picked up the latest Reader’s Digest and started my search... And then I stumbled upon this beauty...
Beware of Mister Fog
When I was pulled over for speeding, I told the officer, "I'm sorry, but the road seemed clear, and..."
"How would you have reacted if Mister Fog had suddenly appeared?" he interrupted.
Annoyed at his patronizing manner, I replied, "I suppose I would've applied Mr. Brake and summoned up Mr. and Mrs. Headlight!"
Enunciating each syllable, the officer repeated, "How would you have reacted if mist.... or... fog had suddenly appeared?"
-- Peter Melville
Yep, I read it the first time, and then I had to read it again. Ten minutes later Adam was finishing up and I found myself looking it back up so that I could read it to him before we walked out the door and I left the magazine behind. The Mister Fog quip is funny to me on so many different levels, and here I am two days later wanting to reshare the quip here on the blog. That is rare for me to remember an anecdote two days later and you are probably wondering why this quip had this affect upon me.
After reading it I flashed back 30 years ago when I was a lost young man with super long hair and a general attitude of disrespect for authority. Yet even though I had disrespect, I knew when to keep that attitude in check. Whenever the red lights flashed to pull me over I knew best to bring out the ‘Yes Sir” and “No Sir” as I responded to law enforcement’s questions. For me there was no worry of alcohol and drugs during the traffic stops. Instead, it was whether or not I had taken care of prior speeding tickets. I knew they had the power to make things really miserable for me; thus it was ‘Yes Sir” and “No Sir” in all my responses.
This went on for a few years until one Friday night as I approached a traffic light right turn in West Covina, California at about 10 PM. I had the green light and I approached the turn with speed, entered the turn with speed, and then hit the accelerator to shoot out of the turn with more speed while also spinning and smoking the tires as I sped down the straight away. I erred in my failure to notice one of West Covina’s finest sitting at the stop light while witnessing my public display of speed and recklessness. Before the 1/4 mile was over I was pulled over at the side of the road as the officer cautiously approached while two more backups were arriving on the scene. With gun drawn he asked to see my license and registration. “Yes Sir” and with that I handed him the documents. He went back to his car and returned and demanded that I exit the car, and that is when the real fun began.
I was informed that I had a bench warrant out for my arrest, but for a ticket that I knew I had paid. The bail was $130, and all I had in my wallet was about $20. Reditellers were brand new then and I had about $140 in my account. Unfortunately the protocol of the West Covina Police Department would not allow me to follow them as we passed by a bank to get the funds to post the bail and allow me to fight the battle for recovery for an already paid ticket on Monday morning. This meant that I was going to be cuffed and my car towed to impound to increase the fees that much more. I politely explained my situation and the policeman was very nice and said that my car could be moved into the parking lot of the business where I was pulled over, but that I would be taken into the holding cell until somebody could get my money and pay my bail. That sounded great, but it did not feel good as the metal handcuffs tightened around my wrists.I suddenly became fearful because the handcuffs meant that I would not be the one moving my car off the street. To some that would be no big deal when the Policeman asked for the keys to the vehicle... Keys? I had eliminated keys from the equation a couple of years earlier. And this was prior to the days of wireless key fobs.
Yes, I had shaved the doors and installed hidden buttons on the exterior that would engage the door latch and pop the door open when depressed. But that wasn’t enough, I also shaved the steering column and in order to start the car you had to switch three of the visible 38 toggle switches and then depress a concealed starter switch in the padding of the dash to start the car. If anything was out of sequence, then you were dead in the water. You could still listen to the 16 speaker stereo that blasted 100’s of watts of power through 3 lighted graphic equalizers. It was powerful enough to alter your heartbeat, if you so desired.
So there we were with me handcuffed as I tried to explain what the officer needed to do to get into the car and get it started. From the curb with one officer lighting holding my bicep, I was able to guide the officer to get the driver’s door opened. He grabbed the padded roll bar, moved the 4 point harness out of the way and plopped down into the racing bucket seat. As he gazed at the 12 Stewart Warner gauges that went all the way across the dashboard he was giggling as he asked for the next step. I could see him having a hard time so I asked if I could go around and show him what to do. They complied and standing in the street with cars going by I was trying to direct the officer to the right three switches that needed to be engaged. He finally had to pull down the safety netting over the window opening and I poked my head inside and pointed with my nose where he needed to depress the concealed button. It fired up and he depressed the clutch, put it into 1st gear, and carefully pulled it off the street into a safe parking spot. He then flipped off the switches, raised the power windows, and then got out of the car giggling at the huge investment of time and money invested in interior gauges, switches, and lights. “I thought I was in the cockpit of a fighter jet,” he said. And I just smiled knowing that was just the effect I was going for during my renovation.
I also realize looking back on those times that I was spinning my wheels in a lot of ways, but I was honing my skills and it certainly was not a complete waste of my time and effort. So much of what happened during those lost years have helped me become the man I am today. I know how mechanical items work and I can fix just about anything. Why? Because I spent so much time in those years taking stuff apart, modifying them, and then putting them back together making them better than they were before I took them apart.
I was hauled off to the police station, fingerprinted, mugshot taken, and then led to a pay phone where I called my younger sister Becky and asked her to come and get my rediteller card and get the funds needed to pay my bail. I was relieved as she agreed and I was led off to the holding cell for about an hour and a half while I waited. Was it fun?... No way! But it also was not scary because I was the only one there. In every movie ever made the holding cell is always scary with undesirables taking advantage of the likes of me. I dodged a bullet that night, but it was just enough of a scare to make me realize that I did not want to do this again.
And remember, if the police officer asks you about Mister Fog, you would be better off NOT getting equally sassy and bite your tongue. Kindness is the best advice when the person controlling your immediate future is addressing you.
Make it a great day!
Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah - www.TheHomeInspector.com - Michael Leavitt & Co Inspections, Inc.