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Ted had been a deputy sheriff for a long time, and he had learned that the minute he thought he had seen everything, something new came along. That’s why what happened in the sheriff’s office that morning didn’t surprise him.
It happened that they had hired an older woman, Lanna, as a part-time secretary. Lanna had grown up in a distant city, and she made no bones about the fact she thought this small, rural community was odd. During the school year, Lanna was secretary at the high school and had been for as long as anyone could remember. She had heard just about every excuse that a teenager could make up, and she didn’t put up with any of them.
Lanna was also a no-nonsense kind of woman, and that’s why the sheriff had decided that she would be perfect in their office for the summer. The other secretaries wanted time off for family vacations, and Lanna would be the fill-in person.
Everyone in the office knew Lanna. She had been the secretary at the high school during the time each of them had gone to school there. No one would consider crossing her. They all knew better.
So Ted watched with great interest when Jake Allender walked into the office. Jake was fourteen, the youngest age at which a person could legally get a driver’s license. He lived on a farm thirty miles out of town. Summer was a very busy time for the Allenders, so Ted was surprised when Jake plopped his completed driving permit on the counter. Ted couldn’t imagine anyone in Jake’s family taking the time from work to bring Jake in to get his license.
Ted could see that Lanna thought the same thing. She eyed Jake suspiciously as she spoke. “May I help you?”
Jake nodded. “I finished driver’s ed, and my father wants me to get my license so I can drive truck to help out this summer.”
“Where’s your father?” Lanna asked.
“He’s busy at home working.”
“So who brought you in to get your license?” she demanded.
“I brought myself,” Jake replied. “No one had time to bring me.”
“Just as I thought,” Lanna said. “Since you took driver’s ed, you obviously know that driving without an adult, when all you have is your permit, is totally illegal. You do know that, don’t you?”
“Well, yes, but . . . ”
“And you do know that if you are caught driving with only a permit, without an adult with you, that can receive a ticket, don’t you?’
“Yes, but . . . ”
“And you do know, don’t you, that if you get a ticket during the time you only have your learner’s permit that you will not be able to get a license for another full year?”
“Yes, but . . . ”
Lanna interrupted again, and turned to Ted. “Deputy, I expect you to take this young man out to his car and give him a ticket.”
Jake again started to complain, “But I didn’t . . . ”
Lanna interrupted him once more and pointed to the door. “Go with the deputy.”
Jake sighed, turned, and walked outside with Ted, but they soon came back.
“Did you give him a ticket?” Lanna asked.
Ted shook his head. “He hasn’t broken the law.”
“What do you mean he hasn’t broken the law? He drove here, didn’t he?”
Ted nodded. “Yes. On a tractor. A person doesn’t have to have a license to drive a tractor. It’s parked right outside. You can see for yourself.”
Lanna just shook her head, rolled her eyes, and said, “This is weird town.”