I thought I would write about a funny little story that happened to me long ago in the middle of the night. Stop me if you’ve heard it before.

It was about 2 a.m. when I slid into Greenville after patrolling the northern parts of Piscataquis and Somerset counties. Usually before going home I swung through town to make sure all was quiet, and to look for Mickey Squiers, a Greenville officer, to see if anything interesting had happened.

I made my way to the east side of town, where the town offices were. It was a routine place for law enforcement to park and observe the major intersection. Most traffic had to go through there and usually anyone traveling through after midnight, so it was a good place to check for a drunk driver.

If we placed our cruisers just right, they weren’t visible from the roadway and therefore it was a favorite spot to park and converse while watching the comings and goings.

After finding the town quiet, I slowly drove by the lot, straining to see if Mickey was tucked in the hiding spot. I spotted the Greenville cruiser and pulled in to talk with Mickey.

After getting into the intersection and making the turn to pass by the parking lot, I was not paying proper attention to the roadway. There was absolutely no traffic, but I wasn’t where I thought I was. I quickly turned the wheel to pull in, all the while keeping an eye on the Greenville cruiser and not on the road.

“Clang!”

Since I am a very jumpy person, and it was in the middle of the night, this was quite a surprise. I turned every which way to see what in the world had made the noise. I was stumped.

Apparently, the noise had jolted Mickey awake. He was parked a good 50 yards away and had nodded off in his cruiser. Not seeing any danger signs, I continued driving into the parking lot. It was then that the telltale sign of what had happened became apparent. Something was scraping underneath the cruiser. I had run smack-dab into the stop sign at the end of the street and flattened it under my cruiser. I pulled up alongside Mickey, who was laughing almost hysterically.

“What are you doing, you numbskull?” he asked.

“I can’t believe I just ran over that sign. I am reporting it to you so you can let the public works people know to stand it back up,” I told him. “I’m just glad it’s in the middle of the night under the cover of darkness, so no one saw that Keystone Kop move!”

I checked the front of my cruiser and there wasn’t a scratch. That was good, as I would have had to report it to my supervisor. So all that had to be done was to stand up the flattened stop sign.

Right next door to the entrance of the parking lot was a service station and the manager of the business lived upstairs. Because it was a busy part of town, this particular person had been asked several times over the years if he had ever witnessed any of the crimes that had occurred around his establishment.

Every time, without fail, he responded that he “never saw or heard anything.” It was almost a joke, as even before we officers asked him the question, we knew the response would be, “Nope, never heard or saw a thing.”

The very next day, while Mickey was in his office, that particular person came in to report that the previous night he saw a state police cruiser run over the stop sign at the end of the street. And he believed the trooper was that Nickerson fellow.

I will never forget what Mickey told him. “You son of a gun. You never see one stinking thing happen when I’m looking for a bad guy, but Nickerson hits a stop sign and you come running over to turn him in? Get out of my office!”

Except for some hurt pride, that was the end of that.

Just another day in the life.

Mark Nickerson is a retired Maine State Police Trooper who lives in Unity. The 28-year veteran  and award-winning columnist may be reached at menick@uninet.net.