The following story was told to me as true. Only the names have been eliminated to protect the guilty, and just warning you, I have capitalized inconsistently, and embroidered the tale, just as I see fit. This was told to me by a government official. Apparently it is known about in Mississippi highway patrol circles, too. It seems that a state highway patrolman was in a hurry. He left from Tupelo on his way to Jackson, MS, by way of the Natchez Trace, a federal park road linking the two cities. The speed limit on the Trace is 50 miles per hour, and is enforced by federal police officers with green flashing lights on their cars. The Trace is designed for only 50 mph, with many curves. You can’t see what’s beyond the next curve in the road, so 50 is truly the safest speed, except for a few straight stretches of a mile or so. For every mile per hour you are clocked over the speed limit, the fine is $100. If you get caught going 65 even on a straightaway, the fine would be $1,500.
Our dear friend the state highway patrolman was doing way in excess of the speed limit to say the least. The federal speed cop, or Park Ranger as they are called on the Trace, couldn’t catch him! The park ranger decided to lay for the patrolman, figuring he would be coming back up the Trace. He hid behind a curve in the road and waited. Sure enough, here comes the highway patrolman, going like the proverbial bat from the hot place, heading back north to Tupelo.
Yoicks! The chase was on! The car with the flashing green lights on was right behind the car with the blue lights off. The highway patrolman kept the pedal to the metal until he got to a turnoff. He took the exit at a very high speed, with the Trace cop in red hot pursuit. Up Mississippi Highway 12 they roared, now headed for Ackerman, MS, the highway patrol car still in the lead by a car length.
Suddenly the highway patrolman turns on his blue lights and eases to a stop on the side of the road. The Trace cop comes out of his own patrol car, green lights flashing – the Trace cop car behind the Highway Patrol car. Each cop gets out of his flashing patrol car. They meet. The Park Ranger is furious. He is writing a ticket for all sorts of federal crimes: speeding, not stopping for a patrol car, reckless endangerment, etc. etc.
Meanwhile, the State Highway Patrolman is writing a ticket, too. He takes the Trace cop’s ticket, and then hands the Trace cop a ticket. This infuriates the Trace cop to the height of passion. “What the blankety-blank are you writing ME a ticket for!” he yells at the highway patrolman. “Why, for speeding, of course. Also reckless endangerment. I can’t get you for failing to stop, because you did stop when I turned on my lights. I’m going easy on you.” The Trace cop utters some words – perhaps he only said something like, “We’ll see about this” – and stormed off and back to the Trace.
Time passes. In about a week, on one fine day in Jackson, MS, the head of the Mississippi Highway Patrol was at a luncheon at the Governor’s mansion, no doubt eating steak or some other equally fine meal. Sitting opposite him was the federal officer in charge of the entire Natchez Trace. The Trace bigwig says to the Highway bigwig, something like “It seems we have a problem with one of your officers.” “Yes,” the Highway bigwig says, “And vice versa.” The matter is discussed over the meal.
I feel fairly certain that it was not until dessert, or perhaps cigars and brandies, that a compromise was reached. Each bigwig hands his own officer’s ticket over to the other bigwig. On the count of three, or perhaps just grinning at each other, they tear up each other’s tickets.
Now, remember, I wasn’t there. I have been embroidering this story for all it is worth. After all, there is no newspaper clipping about this; nothing on Youtube or Ask.com; only rumors. As far as I can tell, the one who told me this will deny ever having told me this story, now that I am blabbing. Therefore, I believe I am going to get away scot free! And you, dear reader, will have to figure out where I ad libbed like crazy, and where I was relating it exactly as it was told to me.
While we are on the subject of the Natchez Trace Park Rangers, I have another story – and I swear to you, this one is pure bunkum, a fib, hogwash, claptrap, and a dastardly lie. There was this Park Ranger going along at 50 mph when up ahead there was a car going about 45. That was well and good, but then about 30 female turkeys came out of the woods and crossed right in front of the car. The car slowed and swerved, but still hit one of the turkeys, and flipped it high in the air. The thoroughly dead turkey landed right smack in the center of the windshield of the Park Ranger’s car.
The Ranger turned on his green lights. The car in front of him stopped, and the Ranger got out and stalked over to the car window. “But Officer,” wailed the driver, “I did everything I could to avoid hitting it, and besides, I know I was going under the speed limit. What are you giving me a ticket for?” “Not for speeding, sir, and not for the accident resulting in the death of wildlife,” responded the Ranger. “I am giving you this ticket for flipping me the bird.”