By March 28, 2007

I didn’t get pulled over

When I was sixteen or seventeen, it was a big deal when my father let me drive his truck. I was visiting him in Oklahoma and he sat in the passenger seat while we rumbled around in his big red Ford F-150. I had just come to the “big road” in town (two lanes each way), and a county police officer drove past me, coming the other way. I did the “Oklahoma wave:” left hand atop the steering wheel at the 12 o’clock position, lifting my first three fingers. The officer rolled by, without so much as a nod. I was at a loss. What was this guy’s problem? “You might want to wait until you’re a little older to do that,” my father said, “most folks your age only wave to cops with one finger.”

And so it came to pass that I did not wave to a law enforcement officer in traffic for almost sixteen years. Until today, that is.

I was riding around on Cylon, back through one of the many semi-rural, semi-suburban stretches where I live. I was speeding through farmland and then wound up smack in the middle of town about seven miles south of my home. Old farmhouses quickly transitioned to tractor trailers and SUVs. I picked up the “big road,” three lanes each way. DrFaulken’s moved up in the world, ladies and gents.

It is customary for motorcyclists to wave at each other, with their left arm extended and pointing down at the road. I flash a V for Victory, fingers down; some riders wave upright, others toss out the peace sign. I was getting ready to pick up the highway when I saw a solitary headlight coming towards me in opposing traffic. I saw a big white faring and expected it to be a motorcycle cop, or at least a cruiser rider on a retired law enforcement motorcycle. Sure enough, it was a County, the gold metallic helmet clinched it. I thought back to my dad’s advice. I was ready to just roll on to the slab when I thought “fuck it,” and waved.

The officer’s head turned towards me, and then with the most simple, elegant of gestures he reached out and shot me the peace sign. He slowly put his hand back on the handlebars and motored on.

I’m sure it wasn’t a big deal to him, but it was huge to me. I had read on the Web that motorcycle officers don’t often wave while on duty — they’re at work, after all. That, coupled with the whole “don’t wave at LEOs” policy, really threw me for a loop. Maybe it was the great weather. Maybe it on the start of the riding season. Maybe we were both just in a good mood. Regardless, it capped off a great trip on the bike.

Posted in: motorcycling

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