[NOTE: This is the 5th in a series of off-topic posts. My wife Paula and I recently completed a 10-day, 2,700-mile road trip through the US northwest.]
We were on US Route 20, in the easternmost portion of Idaho. We had left Craters of the Moon and were headed to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We had enjoyed enough scenery and wanted to get to our destination before dark.
The land, still attractive, was becoming less dramatic and the traffic quite sparse. Paula, having become comfortable with the Ford Escape Hybrid SUV, I was assigned to review, had her seat back and was blissfully dozing.
The road was flat and wide and I was curious to see just what this vehicle would do. My foot became heavier on the accelerator. The speedometer crept north of 80, when I came up on the rear bumper of the first car I’d seen in a while.
It was innocuous enough. It looked like a black pickup with one of those enclosures on the back and a rack on the top. Being from out of state, the first three letters of the plate “ISP” meant nothing to me.
I tromped it. By my reading, I was a tad over 90 when I whizzed by the pickup. I pulled back onto my side of the two-lane highway and decelerated. The Ford had done well.
At just that moment, I saw the blinking red/blue lights coming from what I had thought was the rack. I then dawned on me that the plate letters stood for “Idaho State Police.” I had been caught cold and without a decent excuse.
In a minute, Officer C. Williams strolled up to my window. He had the friendly smile of gracious victory on his face.
“I didn’t think you were going to go for it, but then you did. I got you cold, clocked you at 87.” Actually, I had clocked me at 92 but I thought it wise not to correct him.
Officer C Williams stepped back and looked at the Escape. He circled it and examined the Michigan “Manufacturer” plates. He asked me if this was a rental.
I said no, that I was reviewing the car for Ford Motors and that I was on a 3000-mile road trip. “I’m supposed to put this car through it’s paces. I thought this was a safe place to see how she could pick up and pass.”
He smiled and said he thought it had done well.
“Is this one of those new experimental cars,” he asked. I told him no, that the Escape had been around for a while. What was new is that this was a Hybrid. He asked about mileage, which was running at about 32 through Idaho.
Officer C. Williams, looked closely again at the SUV and went back to his car and Paula and I began one of those eternal waits. As he ambled back up to our window, I could see a long piece of paper in his hands and I knew I was screwed.
He had nicely reduced my estimated speed down to 80, which cut my fine in half to $85.
He examined the Escape one more time. “Nice car,” he said and turned. “You folks have a nice day.”
He followed us all the way to the next town. I set the pace at a loping 65.
I’m wondering. If Officer C. Williams buys an Escape, would Ford Global reimburse me the 85 bucks?