August 09, 2008

Dakota warning

On the way back to my tent from the canceled John Fogerty concert, I get pulled over by a cop. One J Lord. I had passed a stopped patrol car ticketing some forlorn biker, and I had not switched lanes. It did strike me as I was going past that I should, but I was beyond by the time I might have done anything about it -- and then I have this cop car in my rear-view. Seconds after I stop, he is at my window and tells me that in South Dakota, as "I believe in Minnesota" (because my car has Minnesota plates), drivers are supposed to switch to the other lane when there's a parked emergency vehicle. Ah well, what excuse do I have? I mutter something about trying to do it but there was somebody in that lane so I couldn't go over right away. Which there was, but I could have done it had I slowed down and waited for the car to pass ...

... he says, I will issue you a warning, please come sit in the front passenger seat of my car, but there's a dog in the back seat, don't open that door. So I am very careful about which door I open to get into the car. That seat is sodden with rain, so I get my behind immediately wet. Again I say, I know the rule and I had tried to move -- he interrupts, don't worry, I'm just giving you a warning. And he's very nice about it.

Asks me what I'm doing here, asks how I have a California license if I live in India, tells me the dog's a Belgian shepherd -- easily mistaken for a German shepherd, but slightly smaller and more aggressive. Works for the police detail, I suppose. Where were you when the storm struck, he asks. I tell him I was at Fogerty, which got cancelled. He hasn't heard about the lightning strikes, but he tells me there were some hail-caused injuries in Spearfish.

All this, while filling in my warning.

The dog rumbling about in the back seat, occasionally barking.

He has to call in my license details to someone, and both he and she end their respective sentences with "10-4". When he's done, I ask him, what's the origin of that phrase? Why do you guys use it?

He looks puzzled. "Hmm. I just don't know! But all police officers use it."

He gives me the warning ticket, tells me I have to do nothing with it, but not to repeat the offence. We shake hands -- his is a solid, beefy, firm handshake -- I open the door and lift my sodden behind off the seat.

The dog barks some more. Officer Lord turns and says something sharp that silences him. Me, I get on my way, now the proud owner of a South Dakota warning. I look forward to framing it.


Kavi said...

Your posts on the road trip are extremely interesting ! And educative too. I didnt know what an RV or a Trike was. Plus, the descriptions take me to my own journeys !

Keep it going !!

Anonymous said...

If you didn't piss off so many people with your prejudice and bigotry, Comrade Aikath, so many would be visiting your blog and enjoying your more than decent travel writing.

To give the effing devil its due: keep it up, and make sure you retain your driving license.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah one more thing, Comrade Aikath, why don't you write some more about those other people you're always impersonating? You know, like Jai Choorakot, Indian, Unknown Indian?

Dilip D'Souza said...

You're welcome, Kavi. Glad someone is reading and enjoying them! Yeah, I realized that I should have explained RVs. They're everywhere I go.

Anonymous said...

I read your post. You always giving something interesting and new. your travelling experiances
also I enjoying.very good keep it up.

Pankaj said...

Hi Dileep,

Good stuff.

The mention of "10 codes" in your post reminded me of the "Q" codes and the "phonetic alphabet" we used in my days as a HAM radio buff back in college. The idea behind the codes is the same - to standardize communication for certain oft-occurring situations on low bandwidth (e.g., Morse code)/crowded/noisy comm channels.

And possibly to impress the uninitiated with some jargon!

The medium changes - but the concept lives still - kids use code all the time today when texting or chatting.

Some stuff on "10 codes" you may have already seen:

Some more stuff on "Q codes":

And on the phonetic alphabet:

Anonymous said...

Lively posts of your travel.

Anonymous said...

dont they say cool-cool, teel-teel in SD?

AmOK said...

You can frame my Massachusetts warning also. These are more rare than Dakota warnings. Amazingly, MN plates adorned my vehicle also that day. Perhaps that's what Minnesota nice means.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Thank you Madhavi, amok and indian.

Pankaj, appreciate the links -- actually no, I didn't know they went by the name "ten codes", so I would never have thought to look up those pages. Yes, I can see that the short codes make certain often-used communications quick and easy.

Yesterday I was watching a fire department go through some training, sitting with the man in charge and listening to him work his walkie-talkies. Two things. First, any instruction he issued was repeated, as close to verbatim as the guy could manage -- to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding. Second, every exchange ended with an "Af-firmative". Very interesting, where all this communication protocol comes from. Where does "Roger" come from?

Short codes also makes me think of India's very own greetings telegram. What's it, #5 is for Baisakhi greetings?

b, how did you remember and dig up that post? I myself didn't remember it!

Pankaj said...


Actually "Roger" is the code for the letter "R" in the phonetic alphabet. In Morse code days "R" was sometimes sent by the receiver of a signal to confirm that the message was "R"eceived properly. When communication shifted from Morse to voice "R" became "Roger", the phonetic code for "R".