Just in time for holiday, prayers are answered

December 25, 1997|By KEVIN COWHERD

THERE ARE A LOT of Christmas stories trotted out this time of year, but for me, few are as touching as the story of the big policeman and the guy in the white Lexus.

It begins at a busy intersection that I travel through most mornings on my way to work.

At the traffic light, the lanes are clearly marked "Left turn only" and "Right turn only."

But because there's always a long line to make the right, some of our more impatient citizens will bypass all this traffic by getting in the left lane and making an illegal right turn at the light.

So every time I approach this light and see people doing this, I say a little prayer.

The prayer goes like this: "Dear God, please let one of these jerks get pulled over by the police. And let them get pulled over by a real ticked-off cop, too, one who's just had a big fight with his wife or been passed over for a promotion or named in a paternity suit."

Sadly, for the better part of two years, my prayers went unanswered.

I saw chain-smoking businessmen in blue Acuras, cell phones zTC molded to their ears, make that illegal right turn.

I saw working moms in maroon Ford Tauruses, with screaming babies strapped into rear car seats, make that illegal right turn.

I saw sleepy-eyed college kids in neon-green GEO Trackers make that illegal right turn.

But I never saw one of them pulled over by a cop, ticked-off or otherwise.

Frankly, I began to doubt. I began to think perhaps I wasn't praying hard enough, although God knows I gave it everything I had.

Praying for the misfortune of others is not something that comes naturally. But the truth is, once you get the hang of it, it's kind of fun.

Then, just the other morning, as I approached this same intersection with its usual monster backup, a car passed me on the left.

I looked over. The car was a white Lexus with a mopey-looking guy of about 40 behind the wheel. He was losing his hair and had no chin. He looked like the kind of guy who might own a carpet store in a strip mall, where the mark-up on Oriental rugs is 350 percent and they always tell you the restroom is out of order when it never is.

As he passed, he gave me an evil little smirk. It was a smirk that said: "Sit in this traffic if you want, sucker. Me, I got a better way."

And sure enough, when he reached the light, he made a right turn from the left lane.

Well. Watching all this, I could feel the blood rushing to my brain and my face getting hot.

I know this time of year we're all supposed to be infused with the Christmas spirit and yadda, yadda, yadda.

But immediately I raised my eyes to the heavens and whispered: "Dear God, this is the one. I know in the past I've asked for any number of these jerks to be pulled over. But this is the jerk I really want You to nail."

Since there were about 30 cars in front of me, it took me a couple of minutes to reach the light.

And then I saw it.

Off to my right about 50 yards ahead, a police cruiser, its lights flashing, had pulled a car to the side of the road.

"No!" I thought. "It can't be! I don't have that kind of clout with the Big Man!"

But as I got closer, my little heart skipped a beat, for indeed it was the jerk in the white Lexus who had been pulled over.

A policeman the size of a baby Sequoia was leaning into the driver's side window, and he sure didn't look happy.

Meanwhile, the mopey-looking guy was wearing the expression you'd wear if you'd just found your dog dead under the bed.

Well, it was all too much for me.

Passing this scene and imagining the ticket this mope would get, I could feel tears of joy brimming in my eyes.

"Thank You, thank You!" I whispered to the man upstairs, for this was just about the best Christmas present a guy could receive.

I only wish others could experience what I did that day.

But that is probably too much to hope for.

Pub Date: 12/25/97

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