To say that we’re not used to being the subject of traffic stops would be a gross understatement. Most of the time we’re getting a sore wrist from returning courtesy waves instead (left hand on top of wheel, flip wrist up to present palm, go about your business, you know the drill), but that all ended tonight, and we’re still puzzled as to why.

No, we don’t drive like a bat out of hell, thinking ourself immune to the attention of our city’s finest, if anything we drive a lot nicer that we ever have since we fell in love with the Panther and started driving them exclusively. After all, if you drive like an arse in a Corolla you’re just another arsehole to the motorists you cut off. In this one, on the other hand, you’re suddenly besmirching the reputation of a lot of very fine people in blue by doing so, so His Imperial Majesty has become really really good at letting people merge, letting old folk and children cross the road, stopping and waving people trying to make a left turn in heavy traffic across and what have you.

We’re going to have to get a second vehicle so we can let our inner arsehole out to breathe every once in a while, because this saint business is driving us (pardon us there) nuts.

But we digress…

We were driving like a model citizen when, all of a sudden, a cruiser lights us up from behind.

Pull over, hands on wheel, roll window down, good evening officer, how can I help you?, the usual…

Turns out my left headlight was off. Dead bulb. So we have a nice chat, the conversation drifts into vehicles, guns, the weather, have a nice day and get it fixed as soon as you can etc.

Off we go, thinking we’ll have to stop by the AutoZone tomorrow to get a new bulb, when it strikes us that Wally World probably has one even at this hour, so we set out for our neighborhood Wally Embassy since it’s on the way home anyway. Good citizen, might as well get it over with, save us a trip tomorrow, blah blah bleh.

Enter a new jurisdiction and we’ll be damned if the first cruiser we come across doesn’t immediately make a U-turn up behind us. Two out of two. This time we’ve already scoped out a parking lot before he lights us up and pull in. Same drill. “Yep, you got us. We know. Left headlight. On our way to Wally World to fix it, already talked to one of your colleagues over in the neighboring jurisdiction.” Chat about the weather, what a fine vehicle the Panther is, guns, what the fuck is happening to the Cowboys and the rest. Smiles, cheers and have a good’n all around.

Finally make it to Wally World and get the damn bulbs. Was our fun over? Not by half. Now, we’re no idiot, so we parked under a bright street lamp, thinking that’s all we needed. Which it would be, if the people from Ford hadn’t decided that light bulb replacement ought to be one of the 12 trials to become a viking warrior or something. “First, remove the radiator cover by turning the knobs tot he ‘unlock’ position.” Easy enough, right? It would be, if the damn things had an “unlock” position. (and forget about getting to the bulb assembly without removing that cover, by the way. There’s not enough room with it off, much less with it still in place).

We turned the damn things, one degree at a time, all 360 of them, yet in none of those positions would the damn things budge. So we discovered that there was a plastic piece in the center that apparently was detachable. “Fine”, we thought, “use your trusty pocket knife that any self-respecting southerner doesn’t leave home without and yank it out.” And we did. We wiggled the remaining part of the knob a bit but it still seemed to be determined never to pop. Until it did and flew the fuck into the engine compartment.

Which is when we realized that the street lamp wasn’t quite good enough for digging for bits and pieces in nooks and crannies, so, what to do? Trundle back into Wally World to find a flashlight.

Did we mention that at O dark thirty the only entrance at any Walmart Supercenter that is open is in the opposite end of the store that holds automotive parts, flashlights etc? No, we didn’t, because we assume that you already know.

80 nautical miles of walking (and another 15 minutes of standing in line at the only open register in the store) later, we’re back outside with our new flashlight. Hooray. Let’s unwrap it and get to work. Of course, the damn thing is in clam shell wrapping, and at the time it finally gives, the three batteries included with it fly off in three different directions. Equally obviously, only one of them manages to disappear. Fate is clearly mocking us. It doesn’t matter if you’re short one or three batteries, after all, but it’s so much more fun for Fate if it’s only one.

It’s a good thing that Wally World never closes.

So we saddle up our camel for another trek back into the store. Of course, this time we go in knowing that batteries are always to be found near the cash registers, so we only pack a light lunch and a gallon of water this time. And we were right, too. Of course, the cash register that had the batteries in front of it was at the opposite side of the entrance, the same entrance that held the only open register. At this point we can bloody well hear Fate laughing her comely butt off. But we persevere with a determined grin on our face. We’re viking, after all, and we have stubbornness issues. Our grin gets a bit strained when we realize that the lady in front of us has brought a metric ton of coupons and insists on charging the total to a dozen different cards, none of which appear to clear right off and, when they DO clear, the clerk realizes that her little printer is out of paper. But, hey, we don’t mind. AT. ALL.

Really we don’t. We need an emoticon for clenched, grinding teeth here. You get the picture.

Back outside, we get the flashlight to work and, you guessed it, find that the plastic radiator cover knob piece has gone missing completely, at which point we utter an ancient Norse curse and decide the fuck with it, let’s just get the damn bulb replaced if it kills us. Which it nearly did. As we mentioned earlier, Ford Motor Company has cleverly designed that part of the engine compartment so that even if you DO manage to get the radiator cover off in spite of their best efforts to keep you from doing so, the area you have to work in to pull out the old bulb and put in the new one is barely large enough to accommodate the hands of a three-year-old. Which is funny, considering that you can have a family picnic in the rest of the engine compartment, complete with a string quartet for ambiance.

We did manage to complete the job, though, even though we were somewhat delayed by having to staunch an arterial bleed caused by a sharp edge cleverly placed exactly where your fingers need to go when you unscrew the ring that holds the bulb in place.

But we’re all safe and legal now. We’ll just have to take iron supplements for a while. But we’ll pay for that by publishing our adventures in the vast, unexplored expanses of Wally World.

One thing still puzzles us, though, which brings us back to the headline of this post: In all of our years, we’ve seen thousands of vehicles driving around with defective headlights. Heck, we’ve driven some of those vehicles. We’ve done worse things without anybody giving a good damn. Yet in all of those years, we’ve never seen them catch much, if any, attention from our nation’s finest. Yet in one night we managed to bat 1.000 in being pulled over for that offense ourself.

What gives?

Any insights? We guess we’ll just have to pay extra super double probation attention to our headlights in the future.


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By Emperor Misha I

Ruler of all I survey -- and then some.

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