The Alarm Jarred Me Awake



Line of Alarm Clocks

Ever feel like you’re behind and can never catch up? Here’s a short story you may relate to.

I let out a sigh when I see the flashing lights in my rear-view mirror. Seriously? I just can’t be late tonight. And now this.

Putting on the turn signal, I pull over to the side of the road. The cop pulls up behind me. Other drivers cruise past, laughing at me, the fool who got caught speeding.

I dig in my purse for my driver’s license and roll down the window. And wait. Where was the cop? Rain’s dripping on me and I’m looking and looking. No big form in blue appears at my window to berate me for my reckless driving.  Is he waiting for the rain to stop? Or is it too dark for him to get out of his car without back up? Just to ticket little old me.

A few minutes pass, feeling like an hour. I decide to use the time to look in my glove compartment for the insurance card.

I turn to my right and jump so high I about hit my head on the roof of the car. A white blobby thing like a swamp monster is peering in the passenger side window.

Gasping, hand over my heart, I put down the window. “I’m so sorry, officer,” I say. “I was looking for you on the other side.”

He shines his flashlight on my face. Seeing I’m not a teenager, his face relaxes a bit.

“You know why I stopped you.” It wasn’t a question.

“Yes, officer, and I’m sorry.”

“Care to tell me what the rush was all about?”

“Well, you see, I work the night shift at the hospital. I’m a nursing assistant.” I smile tentatively, hoping for some response. I didn’t get one.

“And, well, especially on weekends, it’s crazy busy. We barely get a second to breath, let alone sit down. And forget about eating.”

He’s looking at me like I’m some kind of lunatic. I know I’m sounding idiotic, but I’m still shook over the shock of seeing his distorted face staring at me through the raindrops on the window.

“Anyway, when I’m not at work, having to run around like a crazy person, I just can’t seem to make myself go fast.”

“Oh? What do you call your driving tonight?”

“I mean, at home. I’m always late for work. Like tonight. My boss was going to write me up if I was ever late again.”

“That’s your excuse?”

“No, not really. I got home from work this morning, and my hot water heater had flooded the basement. So, I had to wait for the plumber to come to fix it. The drain in the basement was blocked. That’s why I had the flood. Got that taken care of.”

He’s patient, that cop. He’s still listening to my story.

“The plumber leaves and I can finally have breakfast. Or lunch, since it’s after noon. Then my cat barfs on my piano. Then my kid comes home from school needing a snack for soccer practice. Have you seen the snack rules? No sugar, peanuts, or chips. What else is left?”

I sigh. “Then my oldest needed his car jumped because he hadn’t bothered to replace the battery last week.”

The cop is still standing there, waiting.

“I get his car started and send him off to work. By this time, I’m wondering where my three-year-old is. I find him in asleep in the dryer. His sister had convinced him riding in the dryer would be as fun as a carnival ride. Good thing she didn’t know how to turn it on. Justin crawled in there, hoping I’d come along and turn it on so he’d get a ride.”

I thought the cop was holding back a smile. “After I gave them both a lecture about the perils of dryer riding, I went to bed. I didn’t sleep well, dreaming about eating goldfish in the dryer with a second-grade soccer team all tumbling around.”

“Ma’am, what does this have to do with your speeding?”

“The alarm jarred me awake. It took me awhile, but I realized I’d forgotten to change the time after we switched yesterday. I was an hour late getting up.” I looked at him, hoping for sympathy. “I was out of the house in ten minutes flat, just taking enough time to take a shower and make sure my husband was watching the kids.”

“Hm.” He took my license and went back to his patrol car.

A few minutes later he was back. “I’m going to let you off with a warning. And a piece of advice.”

“Yes, officer?”

“Next time you’re in a hurry, don’t pass a state trooper going eighty miles an hour.”



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