Jack and Joe (not their real names) have been the best of friends since childhood, even though they are both looking at 40 in the rearview mirror. They both farm in southern Missouri, but Jack had recently found a deal online on a used tractor in Wisconsin that was exactly what he was looking for. Thinking that he and Joe were still 20, he devised a plan for them to leave late Friday evening, take turns driving all night, be in Wisconsin early on Saturday morning, load the tractor, and be back home by bedtime that night.
Jack driving, they departed Missouri as soon as Joe’s son’s ballgame ended that Friday night, and headed north. About 1 a.m., Jack realized they needed to refuel the truck and started looking for the next exit. Luckily, there was an all-night truck stop at the very next one, but, being a frugal farmer, Jack knew that if he drove past the trucker’s paradise, he would surely find a locally-owned convenience store with cheaper diesel in this small Illinois town. Sure enough, a couple miles down the road, there was a convenience store with fuel that was 10 cents cheaper. Unfortunately, it was closed.
Upon doing a circle turn in the closed parking lot, a local policeman lit them up. Immediately, Jack stopped his truck and waited for the officer to walk up to their window.
“Whatcha guys up to?” asked the cop as he shined his flashlight throughout the cab.
Jack explained where they were headed and why they were going there.
A little suspicious, the policeman asked, “What are those vials and syringes there in your console?”
Joe took the lead on this question and quickly answered, “One is Draxxin and the other is Bantamine. They’re both for cattle. We’re farmers.”
Joe didn’t know if the officer knew what the two drugs were, but the policeman quickly took Jack’s driver’s license and headed back to his patrol car. About three minutes later, four other police cars showed up, representing local, county and state authorities. The state trooper asked Jack why he didn’t have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Politely, Jack told him that, in Missouri, farmers didn’t have to have a CDL to transport livestock, produce or farm machinery.
“Well, boy, you’re not in Missouri, are you? According to the GVW of your truck and trailer, you need a CDL to drive that rig in Illinois,” the trooper said.
Now, more than a little worried, Jack asked, “What do we do?”
Not so politely, the state trooper told Jack that he would follow him to the truck stop, where he would have to park his truck and trailer until someone showed up with a CDL to leave. He then issued Jack three separate tickets, and followed him to the truck stop.
For the next two hours, Jack was on the internet researching his problem, with all the gusto of someone studying for their bar exam. Joe, in the meantime, was snoozing away in the passenger’s seat. After all, it wasn’t his truck and trailer.
At 3 a.m., Jack woke up Joe and told him he’d better use the restroom.
“Are they letting you leave?” Joe inquired.
“Well, all the cops have left, so we’re getting the hell out of Illinois.” And they did.
They made it to Wisconsin by mid-morning, loaded the tractor, and headed south – via the beautiful state of Iowa.
I saw them the following Tuesday, just as Jack returned from visiting his attorney, where the lawyer thought he could get him out of some of his trouble, but not all. The attorney told Jack to stay out of Illinois until he could get everything squared away with the authorities there.
“Good advice, but not needed,” Jack replied, “I’m never setting foot in that state, ever again.”
Jerry Crownover farms in Lawrence County. He is a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University, and is an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’