August 17-19, 1970
I couldn’t understand why I’d been stopped by a policeman on my way back to Champaign in the Fiat. Had I been going slower than the law allowed? Had the temporary cardboard license plate blown away? Were my bare feet a problem?
“Well,” I said, scrambling for the right words, “you know… uh… it’s summer.”
“So I’ve heard.”
“And it’s warm out.”
Resting his flashlight on the edge of my low-to-the-ground car, he stood and looked down at me. I could tell he was trying to decide what to do. “Do you have papers for this car?”
“OK,” he said, pausing for effect. First of all, that business about driving slow with a new car? I don’t know who told you that, but it doesn’t matter anymore.
Second, haven’t you been told that driving without shoes is dangerous? If you need to make a fast stop by jamming on the brake, you might only catch it with a toe or two – and that wouldn’t be enough.”
The way he said it was funny, and I chuckled a little. “Sorry,” I said. “You’re right.”
“Well, there’s no law against barefoot driving, but it’s just not smart. Put your shoes on.”
I quickly reached to the other bucket seat and grabbed my sandals, sliding them on.
“Also, it’s dangerous going so slow on a country road like this. Speed up a little.” I could honestly say I’d never heard a cop tell me to drive faster.
He walked back to his car without asking for my license, so I assumed I was off the hook. After waiting a minute or two, I pulled back onto the road. He continued following me for a few miles, but I’d obeyed his orders – shoes on, going 55 mph. Eventually he went around me and disappeared into the night.
The combination of slow driving and time spent with the law brought me to our apartment building well after midnight. Leaving our colossal birthday gift at the curb, I climbed the stairs and found Nate waiting at the top for me.
After enjoying lots of hugs and kisses I said, “Hey, can you come downstairs for a minute? I want to show you something.”
Though he questioned me on the way down, I just said, “You’ll see.” Skipping up to the Fiat, I put my hand on its shiny hood. “Meet our new car!”
His face was priceless – complete bewilderment.
“What? Really? You’re kidding. Gosh! Really?”
Handing him the keys I said, “C’mon. Let’s go.” He drove all over town while I told the story, including my adventure on route 57.
Nate couldn’t get over Dad’s generosity and said he would thank him in a well thought-out letter. Never had either of us had such a luxurious gift, and as we slid under the covers that night, our prayer time overflowed with gratitude.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving… Give thanks to him and praise his name.” (Psalm 100:4)