“I hate being late. It’s just one of my things…” said Justin.
Drive 5000 miles across America with someone on a road-trip and you get to know them pretty well. Speed, I had discerned, most definitely was one of Justin’s “things”. Our encounter with the Texan judge had done nothing to deter him from his desire to live life in the fastest lane. We were now in North Carolina, and still travelling at speeds that even Jensen Button would baulk at.
As the familiar flashing lights and siren appeared out of nowhere, I had a strange sense of déjà vu….
“D’y’all know the laws in this state?”
The politeness card was played again. “No officer, we’re from England and I know I was driving too fast, I‘m terribly sorry…”
And trumped. “I gotta tell ya, at that speed, y’all’re goin’ t’jail.”
Gulp. There was something worryingly serious about this guy. Pause. Long pause. There was only one thing for it. Justin pulled out the Ace in the pack – the “School play” defence.
“Umm, officer, I’m so sorry, but we were heading to a school play at the Nags Head Elementary… I know we were driving too fast, but we woke up a bit late, and we’re really sorry…”
Bizarrely, this was in fact legitimate. The night before we had indeed met a troupe of childrens’ actors and actresses and really were heading for their performance at a local school.
None of this however cut the mustard with the officer involved, who played his Joker – a pair of handcuffs.
The rest of the tale is too long and convoluted for this blog; suffice to say it involved a trip to the Dare County Detention Center, a bail bond, a 24-hour wait for the court case, a friendly magistrate, another reduced fine, and much wiping of brows.
And no school play.
The pros and cons of Road tripping (with apologies to Roger Waters)
If encounters with the legal system of the USA have constituted one part of the road-trip experience, the people who we’ve met have played no less a part.
Anger has brewed up in lots of different ways – since the last post, we’ve come across Scott from Alabama who was ready to use his fifty stock-piled AK47s to take the battle to those he thinks are destroying his country by backing off from continual confrontation; and East-coasters Ted and Tony in North Carolina who were more sanguine, but no less depressed about the future here. It’s really not at all clear what comes next. But it’s unlikely to be pretty for quite a while. Lots to think about.
Travel brings its own rewards though, and the kindness we’ve encountered along the way will live long in the memory – sleeping in sofas in Venice Beach LA, staying four days on a yacht in Charleston courtesy of Cap’n Will at the local yacht school, scoring great deals in great hotels. (No jail cells, despite Justin’s best efforts).
5.500 miles on the road has allowed for aural pleasure (please be careful at this point if reading this blog aloud), with music ranging from classic Americana to Indian Kirtan to African beats to bizarre Scottish eighties underground bands. We’ve even heard and made friends with a musical star of the future – you heard it here first – John W Lee is going to be BIG. Click here for his music.
The prize for soundtrack to the trip though goes to Johnny Cash – click here for “I’ve been everywhere”.
I write this from Washington DC, and head tomorrow for New York, the last stop before hopping over the Atlantic to check on the UK, 400 days after I left heading East in November last year. Should be interesting.