Smokey Joe

November 14, 2007 by Ellen Stimson in New England, Police, Vermont

I am not an organized person. I am someone who loses her keys. I am one of those people who has to call her phone to find it. And I am the kind who might forget to get the car inspected, which delays getting the new license plates, which causes the occasional ticket. Last year, we were deep in the death throes of The Horrible Quaint Country Store, and so of course I forgot the inspection, couldn’t then get an appointment that worked, and missed getting the new plates in time. Meanwhile I got a speeding ticket in NY which I also forgot to pay. We were out of checks for one thing, and you cannot pay by credit card, so I put it on the bulletin board for when I managed to remember to order the checks, and who knows what happened to it after that. Oh, and my driver’s license expired on my birthday. I found that out when I got the ticket in NY, but the nice young officer, who was certainly no older than twelve, didn’t notice, and so I didn’t tell him, and I promised myself that I would take care of it as soon as I got back to VT. Only, I couldn’t. Because, well, you can’t take the driving test without current plates, which you can’t get without an inspection, and so…etc.. Then the car insurance renewal came up, only they wouldn’t renew because my license had expired. So, things were getting pretty desperate. Oh, and I was driving to NYC
every week for work.

One Monday, when I wasn’t leaving town, I planned to run around and get the inspection and my license and so forth. Only John called rather early, and asked if I could take the weekend deposits to the bank. Both of his morning people had called in sick and he was alone at the Horrible Quaint Country Store. Our banker, who had been helping us through the quagmire of the store was in Rutland Vermont. So, I figured I’d just drive up there early and do the drive through when it opened at eight. And, so at around 7, still quite early, I added a heavy robe over my flannel nightgown, and carried my cup of coffee to the car…why get dressed when I was only going through a drive through and it was too early to have to worry about seeing anyone? (Okay, so maybe the Quaint Country Store had muddled my thinking just a bit)

I was headed home from the bank when it happened. The sirens and flashing lights made my heart race. I hadn’t been speeding. Whatever could this VT state trooper want? Well, it seems he had been driving, in the other direction, and spied from across the highway, my green inspection sticker whose color indicated it’s expiration. Oh goody. And, my driver’s license had expired. Oh, and NY had ordered my license suspended for non payment of their ticket. I learned all of this as I was on the phone to
my husband and the trooper suggested I keep him on the phone. Like he could do anything to help me since he was alone at the stupid store, where everybody in town already hated us for the missing necessities on the shelves, and a closed sign would just
seal our fate…(it had already been sealed, but acceptance was a ways away yet). So I hung up the phone, and looked at that trooper. And he looked back at me. I started imagining the mug shot in the paper of me in my nightgown and finally it was just all too much. Amazingly I didn’t cry.

I said, “You listen here, I own the Quaint Country Store in Dorset Vermont and it is failing miserably, and the whole town hated us for buying it in the first place, and now we’ve run it into the ground and they really hate us, and I ran to the bank in Rutland to make a deposit so we wouldn’t bounce any checks, because we have hardly any money in our deposit account and our credit has all been used up, and if you are thinking about taking me to jail you just need to have another think, because I am in my nightgown and my hair looks like hell, and I cannot face having my picture, in the paper so you are just going to have to figure something else out!”

I said this all in one breath and maybe just a little bit loud. I was having the teensiest, rather small actually, hardly worth mentioning really, little breakdown. And the trooper must have known it. Because he said, just like any self respecting Vermonter would, “Aiiup.”

“How about if I give you a ticket for driving on a suspended license and you get your car inspected and try to get this mess sorted out, and when you plead not guilty, I won’t show up and today will be like it never happened”

So, then I cried. I said I loved Vermont. I said he was a wonderful man. I said I would have he and his wife over for dinner. I said I was not always quite this incompetent. I sat up straighter, sniffled a bit, and smoothed my hair.

Only then he said, ‘course, I can’t let you drive home ma’am’ So I asked him how in the HELL did he think I was going to get there. I was in MY NIGHTGOWN for God’s sake. My husband was alone at the store. WHAT was the matter with him anyway?

He offered that maybe we should get a cup of coffee. Which we did. And eventually I called Hannah, and she came and got me and we left the car, and they all came back for it later. Do you know that the next day the trooper came into the store and asked how I was doing? He bought breakfast too. Eventually I did get the ticket paid, and my license renewed, and the car inspected, and the insurance bought, and the new plates are shining on the back of my car.

And that trooper? He did just what he said he would do. I was found not guilty for driving on a suspended license. And pretty soon we sold the store, and I am back to loving it here. In addition to the mountains, and all the stars, and the sweet smell of woodsmoke, and the sparkly winters, I think Vermont deserves to be known for it’s kindly state troopers. Because my trooper brought his trooper buddies to the store, and they all bought coffee and doughnuts right up until we sold it. They didn’t say much, but they all smiled and patted us on the back, and I will remember them forever.


  • katiedid

    Have you ever seen the movie Troopers? You lucked out with this guy

  • jimmy


  • Kat

    “teensiest, rather small actually, hardly worth mentioning really, little breakdown”

    yes beautiful..i have these all the time

  • beesknees

    me too and usually there is some residual mess. at least you didn’t break the windshield or anything

  • marni

    but where did you go for coffee in your NIGHTGOWN?????

  • Anonymous

    just wonderful…should be published in stl pd. funny, sad, triumphant, wonderful you can even talk about the Alamo experience…

    Illinois X

  • Able Answer

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • Anonymous

    Good thing you didn’t call LawyerNow! Love, DFS

  • Tyler G

    This belongs in VT Life

  • library lady

    I left the nursing home (despite appearances, I am a visitor, not a resident) and managed to be caught speeding 10 MPH over the limit. Not only did the cop not give me a ticket but he ignored the fact that I wasn’t wearing my seat belt. I think he thought I was escaping from the Home!

  • Anonymous

    I not at all surprised by the pooch-punting Man(iac)-of-the-Cloth. He was, after all, a man. And men are sort of stupid. It is, after all, their most endearing quality.

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