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Monday, August 22, 2011

Passin' Bill's Bargain Town in Wood Heights, Mo., I'm Free at Last, Lord, I'm Free at Last ...

The crack commuter knows not to daydream. Drift off once to that uptempo Commander Cody song you loved back in the late Sixties and the small-town gendarme can ruin your day with an $82 speeding ticket. As we like to say down at the News Bunker, that won't make Momma happy.

Plus, who wants to waste the mental energy you spend trying to defend your screw-up by blaming it on the small-town cop? 

So far, so good ticket-wise during the Magic Commute. I don't want to jinx myself, but I'm careful, use cruise control and am a card-carrying member of the get-good-gas-mileage club. So I've managed to pay attention and not get a ticket in a while.

There is Speeder's Significance to the photo above. Aside from the pretty sunrise and rolling hills, the location marks the end of the 45 mph speed limit through Wood Heights, a town wedged between Excelsior (Sellser) Springs and Elkhorn. I go through there often and know when to slow down and when I can resume 55 to 60 and go, "Free at last, Lord, I'm free at last!"

I've heard there was a time when the Wood Heights constable was like a hawk at a mouse convention. But times are tough, and if there's at least one upside to the recession (in addition to the prevalence of dollar menus at fast-food restaurants), it's that little towns can't afford a full-time policeman, if any at all.

That''s apparently the case in Mosby, which was once speed-trap hell. Even Pleasant Valley, the Speeding Ticket Capital of Clay County, seems to have trimmed its elite force of Gotcha Gendarmes.

In Wood Heights, there is at least a minimal police presence. I see the unmarked maroon Crown Vic lurking in the shadows every once in a while, but mostly it's parked at city hall. The whereabouts don't make a big difference to me. My philosophy is to make staying within the speed limit a habit. I don't like surprises and I like my music, so I have to keep tabs on the daydreaming.

When I hear "Six Days on the Road" the lyric that's most relevant for me is the part about "there's a speed zone ahead on the right." I let people who like those $82 tickets put the pedal to the metal. I don't care if there's no cop in sight.

Try this on for size, but keep your speed down:

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