The way I see it, the entire debacle was the stupid radio’s fault.     
It happened some years ago, but the incident has been burned deep in my memory circuits. I was tooling along in my pickup, headed to town for parts. Just as I turned off the township gravel road and onto the county highway, the opening strains of “Born To Be Wild” began to waft from the speakers.     
I immediately reached for the volume control. I had no choice. “Born To Be Wild” is one of those epic rock anthems that must, by federal law, be played at a decibel level on par with a fighter jet taking off on full afterburner.     
Whose brilliant idea was it to place automotive radios in the middle of the dashboard, at the far edge of the driver’s peripheral vision? I wasted precious moments fumbling for the volume adjustment as I drove. I messed up the balance and the treble, and all of the preset buttons got changed to the same station.     
I eventually located the volume control and cranked the sound up to a satisfactory level; that is, loud enough to loosen the fillings in my teeth. I sang along with my out-of-tune voice as Steppenwolf rattled the pickup’s windows.    
“Heavy metal thunder/ Racing with the wind/ And the feeling that I’m under.”     
I was doing an air drum solo on the steering wheel when I met a car. This was not unusual. I have met as many as three cars on a busy day while traversing this particular isolated county highway. What struck me as odd, though, was that this car had some specialized equipment mounted on its roof. Specifically, a set of red and blue lights.     
I glanced at the speedometer and caught my breath. My stomach filled with heavy metal dread as I watched the patrol car in the rearview mirror. Before I could even mutter “Oh, crap,” the cop car had made an abrupt U-turn and was on my tail. He let me sweat for several agonizing moments before his rooftop lights began to flash.     
Aw, man. How could this happen to me? And on my highway of all places. It might be true that I hadn’t personally built the road. But my ancestors and I have traveled upon this thoroughfare since the days when it was just a set of wagon ruts cutting across the barren prairie. This road is mine as much as anyone’s.     
I pulled over and killed the engine. The entire world became shrouded in gloomy silence. I noticed that the deputy sheriff was taking his sweet time back in his car. Then it dawned on me that he was using his computer to run a background check on me.     
Would he uncover all of my past sins? Would he dig up how, in second grade, I borrowed that much-coveted fuchsia crayon from my classmate Tommy and lost it among my hodgepodge of crayons? Would he find a report about that time when I snuck up behind Butch, a playground bully and my perpetual tormentor, and made faces at him when he wasn’t looking?
What should I say to the deputy? Something pithy such as, “You’ve found me at last, Javert.”     
It then occurred to me that the statute of limitations had probably run out on most of those things. I began to feel indignant that he would even bother to investigate someone as nice as me. Doesn’t law enforcement have anything better to do than pester an upstanding citizen whose only crime was stumbling across an excellent rock song on the radio? How can they set speed traps for folks like me and yet be unable to accomplish actual police stuff such as nabbing the Hamburglar?     
But I didn’t mention any of that. In fact, I was downright deferential as I sat in the cop car and received a lecture about obeying local speed limits, along with a warning ticket.     
I was trudging back to my pickup when I suddenly realized yet another consequence. This meant I could no longer tease my wife about her stop sign, the one she had just paid for when she received a traffic citation. This was cruel and unusual; I was being punished twice.     
I climbed back into my pickup and turned the key. The radio instantly began to blare Golden Earring crooning, “I’ve been driving all night/ My hands wet on the wheel/ There’s a voice in my head that drives my heel.”     
“Oh, shut up,” I snapped as I jabbed the power button. “You’ve caused enough trouble already.” 
    Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, South Dakota. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry currently works full time for the Dairy Star as a staff writer/ad salesman. Feel free to E-mail him at: jerry.n@dairystar.com.