August 12, 1970
Behind the wheel of our brand new Fiat, I set out for Champaign by 8:00 PM and couldn’t wait for Nate’s expression when he saw me driving something other than the Mustang. So I called him before I left, to be sure he would wait up for me. “I should be home around 11:00,” I said, not saying a word about our phenomenal gift.
With the convertible top down on this warm summer evening, I set the radio to my favorite music station and looked forward to 3 hours of get-acquainted time with the car.
Heading toward route 57, I remembered something Dad had said years earlier. “A new car shouldn’t do any high speed driving till after the first 100 miles.” I wondered if that was still true with the modern cars of 1970. Just in case, though, I decided to follow that advice.
Driving at about 40 miles per hour, I watched one car after another go around me and hoped I wouldn’t be rear-ended by someone not paying attention.
The miles clocked by without incident, though, until I saw a flashing light in the rear view mirror. Hoping it would roar past in pursuit of someone else, I was disappointed when the light stayed on and slowed to 40 mph – staying right behind me.
Pulling off to the shoulder, I couldn’t imagine what I’d done wrong. Surely he couldn’t pinch me for going too slow. Route 57 wasn’t even a super-highway, so people didn’t have to go fast.
Normally I would have gotten out of the car to greet the policeman when he came toward me, but I’d been driving without shoes and had a vague memory that barefoot was illegal.
The officer’s first words were, “Where are you going in such a hurry?”
I assumed he was joking but didn’t want to chance it, so gave him a serious answer. “I’m driving home… to Champaign.”
“At a snail’s pace?”
“Well… this car is brand new, and I don’t want to hurt it. I think I’m supposed to drive slow for the first 100 miles.”
“Is that so?” he said, taking a flashlight from his belt. He leaned toward my dashboard to check the odometer – 73 miles.
“What’s this?” he said. “No shoes?”
“I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?” (Psalm 56:4)