Crazy automotive madness going on this week. Monday I was given a ticket for 57 in a 45, going up the hill on 21 to the Roaring Gap Post Office before heading down the mountain. I drive that highway so seldom, I forget it's now 45 instead of 55. I see the signs, but they don't register. Years of habit. Q: What's your hurry? A: Just going up the hill. When you're nailed and you know it, there's really nothing much to say. I was informed that my license expired a year and a half ago. I said I had nothing in the mail telling me it was due. They've always sent mail notifications. They quit doing that. So they quit doing it and trap people who don't know about a new change in the law. Sorry, sir, I wasn't able to afford to go to law school. I didn't say that. Male authority figures require that we talk to them like they're dead. Answer a smart-mouth question with a straight answer. He spent a half hour in his car looking up everything that could be found on me in the computer, how many tickets I've had over the last 50 years, haven't been arrested. He found I'm just another Joe who flies below the radar much of the time. Sometimes I think of TJ as The Joe. Guilty as charged. I know there is nothing I can do about it and saying it means nothing at all, but I really would prefer cops who didn't think they had to make smart-mouth wise cracks to announce themselves in charge.
That meant I had to drive home illegally. Didn't have a cell phone. Couldn't call two people to come and pick me up. One to drive and another to drive my car. I thought: to hell with it---today I'm an alien outlaw. After being talked to as a criminal, I decided I must be a criminal, so I may as well act like one. At least get a little bit of fun out of my outlaw way of life. Made it. Then I couldn't drive until going for the driving test Wednesday. Had to make two trips. Asked a neighbor to go with me to do the driving so I won't get arrested on the way to the exam. I had very strong and deep emotional reaction to the experience of dealing with a human being with dead eyes whose tone of voice never changed, who only spoke facts and matters he was bound to say by law. He handed me a paragraph on a piece of paper and told me to sign it. It was all information about how sex offenders are not to be near schools, can't live here or there (actually not any place), and the other rules about sex offenders. I said, "This does not apply to me." He said, "You didn't read it." I begged to differ, but let the impulse to speak go by. I was, after all, in the presence of the dead. He said signing it only means I read it. So I read it again, since I evidently didn't read it the first time. I signed it, imagining storm troopers barging in to throw me to the floor and arrest me because I signed a paper saying I was a sex offender. It was an unsettling moment. I told myself: This is state police, get used to it.
The driving test was from hell. The lecture when it was over was even worse. I reminded myself, police state, get used to it, let it go by like water on a duck's back, this is not freedom and liberty. My only objection was attitude. Everything was on the up and up, by the book. The superior attitude cops come down on us with is the part I don't like. I don't like being talked down to, so I don't talk down to others. And because I don't talk down to others, I don't get talked down to. Then along comes the long arm of the law. Anyway. It's over. He told me after the lecture he hadn't ought to give me the license, but he would anyway (because I passed the test). I took neighbor Gary, who went to hell with me as my driver, for lunch at the River Rock and had a nice lunch in a comfortable place. I like about it that both mountain people and city people go there. It felt wonderful to be back in the world of living people. It turned out a waitress there was the daughter of a friend. Nobody talked to me like I was a criminal who belonged behind bars, nor looked at me like if they look hard enough they can find a reason to put me in prison. I've had the problem all my life that men of authority see me the enemy on sight. I don't have to speak, don't have to stand a certain way. Probably it's my eyes that show no respect. I'm not an obedience geek. That's why I live where I live, as I live, remotely. Every contact with officials from that world of obedience makes me shiver.
It was a sight how jangled my nerves were the rest of the day. Tried to take a nap. Not a chance. Tried just lying still for awhile. That didn't work either. Thought since I was allowed to drive my car again and was out of carrots, I'd run to town for some groceries, particularly carrots for Donkey Jack. Left rear tire was flat. I was not in a mood to change the wheel. It has one of those little wheels I think I've heard called "donuts" under the floor of the trunk. Had to take everything out of the trunk, everything, to lift the cover off the spare tire well. I went to visit Jack without carrots. He didn't seem disappointed to see me without a donkey treat. He likes being talked to, having his legs rubbed, the physical and mental, even emotional connection with a human. The four-leggeds look up to us so much I feel humble before them. I tell Jack I've got nothing on him. Only the forebrain is different and it's the cause of a lifetime of mental agitation that never ends. Donkey has clear mind. Enjoy it, my friend, while you have it. I tell Jack there is much about donkey I look up to. A donkey's humility is as deep a part of their nature as forgiveness in dogs. Went out this morning and changed the wheel. Had to dig a hole in the packed gravel parking space under the axle; it was so close to the ground the jack wouldn't fit under it. If God was keeping track of the cuss words I used, I'm in big trouble. Fortunately, God does not work for the state of North Carolina. God forgives. Phew.
It's the time of year for new front tires, so I called my mechanic. Am scheduled for 4 o'clock Friday. That's good for so short a notice. No driving this week. I can't help but notice how odd it is that by surprise circumstances not connected to each other I've been unable to drive for a week. I'm taking it for something that is saying, Pay attention, pay close attention. I've had two lectures from law enforcement telling me to pay attention. The flat tire I simply took as a message from Spirit telling me I need to stay at home. This is a time I need to be at home. Stay at home is what I've come to from paying attention. When circumstances happen in tandem with the same message, it catches my attention. It's easy to stay at home. It's where I like best to be at any given moment. I've got so bad, home, my hillbilly home, is where I want to be all the time. Hazel Dickens singing West Virginia My Home has the feeling in the heart I feel about this very spot upon which I dwell. Sometimes I think of that as something of an achievement in life, to love everything about where I live, to be without regrets that I don't live someplace else like Hawaii, San Francisco or Monaco. I take my entire experience living on Air Bellows Mountain a gift from God. I am aware of it daily as such with gratitude. If it's a time to stay at home, I'm happy to comply. Will pick up carrots returning home with new tires.