While walking in the hot sun yesterday I decided to take a lunch break. I parked my trailer along the highway and clamored down a sandy embankment seeking the shade of a large juniper tree. While resting there, a radio show from Reedsport called and I had my first interview on "live radio." Feeling pretty good about the experience and somewhat rejuvenated, I started on down the road once again feeling fine.
By now the sun was growing hotter and I decided to heed my wife's advice and put on a long sleeve shirt for protection - but where to change? Looking around, I figured I could quickly change my shirt between the cars zooming by - but I had better be fast - I didn't need any charges of public indecency! Well, guess what? As soon as I had the one shirt off and before I had the next one on - that exact moment - the Deschutes County Sheriff pulls over. There I stood shirtless and surprised! What to do? I kept dressing! As he got out of the car I took control of the situation explaining all and winning over a new friend in the process. His name was Officer Wells, a nice grandfatherly type figure with a calm demeanor. I gave him one of my business cards and told him to check my blog for I would mention him by name.
But in a larger sense, what is my responsibility to the police? I had no reservations explaining to him about my trip - but what if I didn't want to share? There is always a natural disssonance between the authorities "need to know," and the individual's want for privacy. Until recently, a person in this country did not have to identify himself unless he had done something wrong, but the Supreme Court has changed that. Now, a citizen must identify himself to the policeman when asked.
Legal question - Did I have a right to only give my name and nothing more? You might ask, " Who cares? What's the big deal?" Yet these small questions a very big issues.
I'm reminded of an early television show called Combat starring Vic Morrow. It was about some American GI's during WW II and much of the plot was simply avoiding German authorities. Weekly, the show provided tense moments as the Americans would smuggle themselves through "checkpoints" being asked by German guards with thick accents, "Your papers, please!"
Are we there yet in this country?
(By the way, the sheriff said he already knew about me.)