I was told at Sunday School that “God is everywhere”, and though I stopped believing that at around the same time I stopped believing anything else I was told, I learnt on a short trip to the US South last week where the phrase came from. There’s just no escaping the entity down there. “They’re commandments, not suggestions!” a reproachful sign in Mount Airy, NC, informed us. This was a sign at a petrol station. “Fear of God is the only path to wisdom!” barked an apparently very angry preacher on the radio. GDS ARMY read a number plate on a pick-up truck in Roanoake, Virginia (Great Deity in the Sky?). In a restaurant in Asheville, Tiger Woods appeared on a TV screen, prompting a man at our neighbouring table to remark, “That man’s gotten lost on the way to heaven.” Though looking at some of the women he’s been involved with, you might argue that he’s been there and back already.
Christian morals don’t necessarily mean Christian behaviour. I was idling along the I-40 just before Hickory, NC, cruising in the fast lane on a perfectly clear day, driving in a perfectly safe manner, when I passed a state trooper. Yes, I overtook a cop. Yes, I am that stupid. Though I should add that I was going at about 65.1 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone, and by the time I saw him hidden in the line of traffic, it seemed too obvious to slow down and pull in behind him. So I drove carefully past, moved in ahead of him after indicating, and at that point state trooper Christiansen of F Troop, District 5, North Carolina, excitedly activated his flashing lights and pulled me over. Then he kept me and the family waiting for 25 minutes while he returned to his vehicle to write me out a ticket (I have a long surname).
It wasn’t the $25 fine that bothered me, it was the $130 “court costs” that he slapped on top. Out of state number plates are an easy revenue-raiser, because state trooper Christiansen of F Troop, District 5, North Carolina, knows as well as I do that I’m not going to show up in court on March 19 in Newton District Court, six hours drive away from home, to contest the fact that I was speeding. We all know you shouldn’t get smart with cops, because while you are undoubtedly smarter than them (even idiots like me who overtake them), they have several ways of compensating for their stupidity, most of them involving guns, electronic stun-sticks, handcuffs, lies and cold cells with hard stone floors. So it was probably good that by the time I’d taken in the enormity of the fine, he was striding back to his car, and therefore I didn’t have the opportunity to congratulate him on his fabulous detective work and his incredible, crime-cracking acuity at hunting down a hardened felon like myself, accident-free in almost 30 years of driving but surely about to cause a multiple-car pile-up if not for state trooper Christiansen’s absolutely brilliant intervention.
Or to say to him, “Goodbye state trooper Christiansen, and as we like to say in Germany, Geh ficken, Du doughnutfressendes Arschloch!” (translation: drive safely, and I hope you enjoy your lunch).