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.