When I spotted the flashing lights right behind me, the usual wave of apprehension swept over me. I was going a little under the speed limit, I thought I’d stopped at all the stop signs and signaled all the turns but instantly I felt guilty.

I was taking my usual shortcut home through a residential neighborhood. I had just purchased $165.41 worth of liquor — the holidays were coming up — but it was safely in my trunk, unopened.

“What did I do?” I asked the policeman as he approached my rolled-down window. Leaving my question unanswered, he took my driver’s license and went back to his car to hunt down my criminal record while I sat there looking as innocent as possible.

Apparently finding none, he asked for my insurance. Only then did he tell me my driver’s side rear brake light was out. How would I have known that? We agreed that I would go the next day to have it replaced.

Which I did. When I pressed down on the brake for the mechanic, he said, “I don’t see a problem.” Finally, after multiple brakings, he said one light was dimmer than the other.

I got out to wait for him to replace it and in line behind my car was a stunning, yellow Mustang. “That’s a beautful car,” I told its driver, who was standing beside me. “I’ve always wanted a yellow car.”

He explained that he had just bought it for his wife but before he went two blocks he was rammed in the back by another car. He got that repaired and stopped at Wal-Mart on his way home where a woman backed hard into the front of his Mustang and it was back to the body shop. He had never made it home for his wife to drive yet. He was at the dealership to get the expensive new tires it needed and some other details taken care of.

I told him just the day before, a young woman in a shop was telling me about running over a wild pig on a country road and had to have the front of her car redone. Then someone backed into the rear of her just-repaired car while it was parked at the mall and she had to take it in again for repairs.

Since I was going by the supermarket on the way home, I stopped in for a few things. I can always postpone grocery shopping until I run out of cat food. I can make do. Boomer, the cat, can’t.

Before I got out of the car, an old friend came over to greet me. Her husband died not too long ago and we had a long visit about some of the good memories she has.

Inside the store, I saw three more good friends and we chatted briefly around our carts.

It was a beautiful day, the kind that energizes you and makes you optimistic. It was 55 degrees when I left the house to get my brake light fixed; 72 when I returned.

Thanks to the young, polite policeman who had stopped me the evening before, I had had 17 degrees of interesting conversations. Not counting him.

Mary McClure lives in Lawton.

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