Everyone knew I didn’t want to know who won the game

Everyone knew I didn’t want to know who won the game

I used to work with a guy — we’ll call him Less Moore — who specialized in irritating me.

Maybe he was doing it on purpose. Maybe he wasn’t even aware of the effect he had on me, but that crusty, old son of a sea dog got under my skin something awful.

For example one year I had taped the NCAA finals so that I could enjoy it after I got home in the morning.

I made sure that everyone — including Less Moore — knew I didn’t want to know who had won the basketball game.

They seemed cool with it.

Do you know how difficult it is these days to avoid learning the result of a major sporting event?

It’s like walking sideways through the raindrops, trying not to get wet: no internet, no radio, no newspapers, no TV, no idle chitchat with anyone who might let it slip.

But after nearly finishing my shift, it looked like I was home free.

Then Less Moore walked in, filled up his coffee cup, sat down next to me and said, “What a game, eh?”

“Less,” I started, trying to shut him up, “remember what I said yesterday about not ... ”

“And I’m not even a Carolina fan,” he said, ruining it for me.

The world may not be filled with Less Moores, but there is a tiny segment of the population dedicated to being obnoxious without being obvious about it, and that’s a rare and awful gift.

Old Less retired well past the suggested age — no surprise there, more chances to annoy me — and worked into his 80s.

Every year around the holidays, he said the same thing.

“Well, you won’t be seeing me in January,” he said. “It’s time for me to go bother my wife full time.”

And every year — after soaking up the most coveted two weeks of vacation so that no one else could enjoy even one day off — he’d come strolling back in, ready to spoil everything one more time.

Maybe I should have called him on his tired act, just confronted him and told him what I really thought of him, but he was just a sad, old man, and I simply couldn’t do it.

I guess I was raised better and maybe felt a little sorry for him.

Besides, as I was reminded the other day, sometimes Less Moore was right.

It pains me to admit that, but it’s the truth.

As I’ve said, he had opinions about everything and never shied away from sharing them, especially with me, a “young punk” who was “into all that hippie crap.”

I was in my 60s, for goodness’ sake.

Old Less was always good for dispensing unsolicited advice, often dressing up his homespun aphorisms with a bit of rhyme time.

“‘If you give me eight,” he’d say, “you’re great. Give me nine, your butt is mine.’”

I just stared at him.

“Translation, Less?” I asked.

“Well, since you’re driving home for your class reunion,” he said, “just keep that in mind. It’s how cops think.”

I said nothing, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“Radar,” he said. “Speed traps. Simple math.”

So it happened that I was driving my wife up to the Outer Banks last week so that we could visit with family down from the North.

I was making good time and decided to stay behind the wheel beyond the rest area where we normally switched, halfway to our destination. This would be crucial as it wasn’t my usual stretch of highway, but I pressed on anyway.

The speed limits vary considerably on that portion of U.S. 64, dropping from 70, to 55, to 35 before heading back up to 60.

When I first saw the flashing blue lights in the rearview mirror, I assumed there was an accident up ahead and slowed down.

But the cop in the unmarked car didn’t pass me. Instead, he just stayed on my bumper for almost a mile, magnetized to me.

“I think he’s stopping us,” I said to my wife.

“Why?” she asked. “Were you speeding?”

“I guess we’re going to find out,” I said, pretty much knowing this cop was going to be a jerk.

And he was.

After asking a dumb, smug question — “Any particular reason you were doing 68 in a 55 zone?” — and offering a hint of hope that he might just kick us loose — “Let me run your information and we’ll get you on your way again” — he issued me a ticket.

The damage?

Cost me more than 200 bucks.

“Now you can get a lawyer and fight this,” he said. “That’s your right. But I wouldn’t advise that.”

I said nothing, just drove away and passed a semi about a mile down that two-lane highway, hitting 70 again.

“You’re kidding,” my wife said, glancing at the speedometer.

Over the course of our trip up and back from the Outer Banks, we must have seen a dozen cars stopped on that same stretch of road.

It was like they were holding some kind of cop competition.

But it wasn’t as if I hadn’t been warned.

Old Less Moore had seen to that.

Mike Dewey can be reached at CarolinamikeD@aol.com or at 6211 Cardinal Drive, New Bern, NC 28560. He invites you to join the fun on his Facebook page.

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