Nathan Hansen's column: Let me be serious for a minute
I like to make jokes. If you've read this column, you probably know that. Or maybe you didn’t realize I've been making jokes all this time and instead have been checking back each week for trenchant political commentary.
If that's the case,I I’m pretty curious about your political viewpoint and how dinosaur erotica fits in. But I thank you for your support nonetheless.
Back to the jokes, though. As hilarious as I tend to be, even I know there are times to be serious. Like, for example, when a Reno police officer is trying to figure out whether you are smuggling a large quantity of illegal drugs in the back of your father's Toyota Highlander.
Was that overly specific? There's a reason for that.
Here's what happened. I took a week off earlier this month to drive my dad's car to California so he and my step-mom will have it while they're there for three months this winter. The first part of the trip went pretty much without incident. Especially in western Nebraska, where I'm pretty sure incident isn't allowed. Or at least seriously frowned upon.
True story: As I drove through Omaha I saw a billboard with the slogan, “Blandtabulous.” It was for an accounting firm, but I swear for just a second I thought it might be for Nebraska tourism.
But this isn’t about Nebraska. It’s about Nevada. And drugs. And a police officer who thought I might have them in large quantities.
Coming out of the mountains toward Reno I passed a squad car parked in the median between the westbound and eastbound lanes of Interstate 80. I was maybe five miles per hour over the 65 mph limit, but so was everyone else. I didn’t think much about it until I checked my rearview mirror and saw the squad car pull out behind me.
I slowed to the speed limit and watched other traffic pull away. But the squad car stayed right behind me. It was like I was OJ, only I was driving. And there were no helicopters or TV cameras. And I never double-murdered anybody.
After four or five miles of this low-speed pursuit, I changed lanes to make room for merging traffic. The officer moved over behind me and turned on his siren. I stopped, because that’s kind of what you’re supposed to do.
After taking my license, the officer told me he’d stopped me because I failed to signal my lane change. That might have been true, but it became clear pretty quickly it wasn’t the real reason he’d stopped me.
He asked where I was going. He asked why. He asked what I did for a living, and how long I’d done it. When I told him I was a newspaper editor, he asked where. I told him it was small weekly newspaper, figuring “Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages” wouldn’t mean much to him. He wanted specifics, though. I assume he went directly home to buy a subscription. In which case, hello, officer!
Eventually, he got to the point. He asked if I had a large amount of methamphetamine in the car.
This is where I probably could have gotten myself in some trouble, because it was on the tip of my tongue to point out that I hadn’t packed the car. My dad had. After a moment’s thought, though, I figured opening that door would most likely lead to opening all the doors of the car. Which would lead to a German shepherd rooting through all of my stuff. And while I didn’t have any drugs, I didn’t really want dog snot on my underwear.
It also occurred to me to ask the officer to define his terms. I didn’t know what he considered a large amount of meth. But, again, I figured that would cause more problems than it solved.
So, I said no.
Besides, I’m fairly confident my dad didn’t turn into Walter White when I wasn’t paying attention. He’s a lawyer, not a chemist.
Then, he asked if I had a large amount of cocaine. Again, I said no. Marijuana? Nope!
He stopped after that. Apparently heroin, prescription pills and cans of Redi Whip weren’t on his watch list.
He let me off with a warning, which was probably the most reasonable response. I went on my way.
And that’s the story of the time I was suspected of being a drug mule. No joke.