Follow Me to the Senior Center – Believe it or Not

By Carl and Jo Ann Hauser
Our home overlooks part of the golf course. There are many nights we enjoy listening to the elk and an occasional coyote as they wander around the fairways, unless of course, it’s three AM when they start to get a little rowdy. So I could tell you as a “believe it or not” story that every morning at five AM a beautiful woman wearing nothing but a nightgown is sleepwalking across the golf course (Rebecca, the ghost from The Lodge). Don’t get excited, men, that would be a believe-it-not! The only thing you’ll find at five AM is Yogi Bear, Wiley Coyote or a pile of elk pooh! On the other hand I could tell you Jo Ann snores in her sleep. (Believe it!) In our story this month you’ll have to decide whether you believe it or not.

We built our retirement home in 2001, but I still had four years before I could retire. Every chance we got, we would make the 870-mile trek from Kansas City to Cloudcroft. I would get off work at three or four in the afternoon, and immediately begin the journey. You all have heard of the Bermuda Triangle, right? After about eight hours of travel I would bravely drive into the abyss known as the Texas and Oklahoma panhandle. Something always happens in the panhandle after midnight. Strange creatures come out of nowhere, stalking their prey. No, it’s not Big Foot, nor Chupacabra, nor even Mutant Ninja Turtles. They’re called Sherriff’s Deputies. That’s right, over that four-year period I drove through the panhandle a half-dozen times a year, and got stopped five times. Some of the lame excuses I heard for pulling me over were, “You were going 62 in a 60” (Really); “You didn’t dim your lights when you saw my car.” (His car was parked with its lights out!)

The shortest stop I ever had was when the deputy was coming from the other direction. He motioned for me to stop, pulled up beside me, and said, “I think you were speeding.” My yellow lab was riding shotgun, and at two AM was awakened out of a peaceful sleep. It was pitch black, so the Deputy couldn’t see what was sitting beside me. To her credit, my dog Phoebe sounds like a 100-pound Doberman. She said, “Grrrrr!” In a span of twenty seconds the Deputy said, “Slow down and have a nice day.”

Another time I was in the middle of the Texas panhandle, driving my wife’s car, which was full of clothes and furniture. My trusty dog Phoebe was again riding shotgun. It was three AM. Because my car was stuffed full, I could only see out my side mirrors. So, it was a while before I noticed the flashing lights behind me. This time there were two Deputies, one male and one female. They were a little peeved; apparently they had been trying to pull me over for a mile or so. I apologized profusely and explained that I had just now seen their lights, and had heard no siren. They explained they didn’t use their siren, and stated I was going 67 in a 65. (Seriously) One cop went over to the passenger side with his hand on top of his holstered gun. I don’t know what he thought was sitting in that seat, but when my dog said, “Grrrr!” they said, “Slow down and have a nice day.” I believe I hold the panhandle record for most stops without a ticket.

Finally I was able to retire in January of 2006. We established our residency and got our New Mexico license plates. In February I traveled back to Kansas to turn in those plates for a refund, also to visit my kids. I crossed New Mexico- no problem. In the Texas and Oklahoma panhandle there was no sign of a Deputy anywhere. I got back to my original home state of Kansas; the last leg of my trip was on the Kansas turnpike. As I was rounding a curve, I spotted a police car on the shoulder. I immediately pulled into the other lane as I passed by. He begins to follow me for about a mile, turns on his lights, and pulls me over. Unfortunately, it was broad daylight; I didn’t have my dog, nor my wife to say, “Grrrr!” He walked up to my car, and said he pulled me over because I changed lanes when I saw him. Seriously, I thought that was the law. He explained his real issue with me a few minutes later. “I noticed your license plate,” he said. “We’ve had problems with Mexican drug dealers using I-35.” I said, “That’s a NEW Mexico license plate, Officer.” (Got no response) I further explained I still had my old Kansas plates and was on my way to turn them in. After a few more minutes he acted like he was ready to let me go. Then he said, “Would you mind if I searched your car?” The ultimate “no win” question. I said, “Sure.” He calls for back up; his back up turns out to be another cop with a drug-sniffing dog. So, now I’m out of the car, patted down, and told to sit by the side of the road, while the dog does his thing. That’s right, I was the guy on the side of the road everyone stares at, looking like he just committed a major crime. I had everything but the handcuffs. The dog starts sniffing and pawing at my back bumper. I asked the guy, “What does the dog do when he thinks he’s found something?” He says, “That!” I started to have visions of my car being disassembled at the local police station (all because of my NEW Mexico plate). It was starting to feel like an episode you would find in New Mexico Magazine, ‘One of Our 50 is Missing.’ After about a half hour sitting on the side of the road, they finally decided I had no drugs, and was not a threat to society. In my perfect Kansas accent I said, “Gracias,” and went on my way.

It’s time for “let’s review what we’ve learned”. 1) Jo Ann snores; 2) let sleeping dogs lie; 3) Sherriff Deputies are lonely or bored or both; 4) Kansas police may need geography lessons; 5) just to cover my rear, we have the finest Deputies in the country right here in Cloudcroft- they also know the difference between NEW Mexico and Mexico; 6) finally, some of you have expressed concern over Jo Ann’s five-dollar a week allowance- I agree; it’s probably too much!

Come on down to the Senior Center. We don’t care where you’re from, as long as you are over 60! Last month we celebrated our 25th anniversary. Vickie Ritter was our employee of the year. Kathy Swope reached her 15th year of service as Director. These two women, as well as our whole staff, are incredible, giving angels. We are proud and honored to call them our friends. Call in your reservation for lunch by 9:30 AM; lunch is served from 11:30 ‘til 12:15. Reserve your place on our van to shop and eat lunch out on Mondays and Tuesdays in Alamogordo. Our van can also pick you up and bring you to lunch at the Senior Center on Wednesdays and Fridays. Tuesdays and Thursdays we play bridge after lunch. Catch some of your friends for a game of Farkle or Mexican Train. RoadRunner Food Bank is the first Wednesday of every month. Marty Ware’s creative website highlights our fun Senior activities! God bless you all, and beware the panhandle!

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