Washington State Patrol

"The Trooper's Riddle"

Shannon was a trooper with just a few years on.

It was a job that suited her and she worked from dusk til dawn.

One night a Camaro, flew by at 90 plus

Shannon lit it up and took after the car in a rush.

Dispatch had ran the plates by the time she rolled the Camaro over

And walked up beside the car that was parked along the shoulder.

A teenaged girl, behind the wheel, was cussing and throwing a fit.

"My dad is a senator just so you know, now give me a warning and git!


He has allot of influence all across this state

And if you let me off, I'll tell him you cut me a break."

The trooper kept her cool and wrote a modest citation

The violators' expression as she signed was a battle declaration.


Three weeks later on a July day, Shannons' sergeant called her in.

"A very  serious charge been placed against you by a senator about his kid.

The papers I am serving you say you yelled and cussed at his girl

And that you called her the "B" word twice and other insults hurled"


Eventually, the charges were dropped, but they took their toll on Shannon.

She lost allot of sleep and felt betrayed, like she was shot at from a cannon.

Finally, she kind of got over it and summer passed, then fall

Christmas was just up ahead, her favorite time of all.


She had to work on Christmas day, but her dad always made dinner.

She had popped a couple of DUI's by noon and warned a passing speeder.

The afternoon went slow, with few vehicles rolling by.

At 3P dispatch sent her to a wreck where the RP thought the girl driving had died.


It was lights and siren to the blind curve on a knoll

Where the driver of a camaro had sheered off a power pole.

The driver inside the crumpled car groaned  faintly through the broken glass

And  blood in gouts was flowing from a deep arterial gash.


"I need an aid car with some blood and call the PUD.

I've got to help the victim now before she bleeds out in front of me."

The trooper applied pressure at the point to make the bleeding stem

And she thought it was so ironic that she had saved the driver again.


She signed out of service at her house, working an hour over

And she took off her bloody uniform and stood underneath a good warm shower.

She called her dad to tell him she'd not be there til a quarter til.

Her dad met her at his door and hugged his darling girl.


He had made a table full of food and had a tree that glistened.

Oh, he had been a trooper too and knew there was a time to listen.

He mother had been like that too, had that cloudy look when a storm was brewing.

He made small talk as they ate, of fruit trees, weather and BBQing


He looked across the table to everything he held dear

"Care to tell your dad what caused those wiped away tears?"

She should have known that her dad who'd been a troop for 30 years

Could sense her mood a block away with instinct he had  needed over the years.


She glanced around the table at the ham and salad and pie

But her fathers' favorite food was from his fruit trees he'd canned and put by.

He had been so lost when her mother died with a daughter and a house and the patrol.

But he pulled it off to get her raised and  she loved him for it all.


"Well … It's a riddle, Daddy, really and one that I can't solve.

I work so hard to protect and serve with all of my resolve.

I cited a speeder way last summer and she accused me of close to crimes

I was cleared after a month of of sleeplessness and a fair amount of crying.


Today, I saved that speeder's life in a wreck that she had caused.

There is no doubt in my mind I'll not  get thanks or applause.

Where's the justice in a system when troopers risk their lives

Only to be wrongly accused, like the slice from betrayers knives?


How did you deal with a system for over thirty years

When the very person that you rescued could give you grief and fears?"

The father chuckled to his daughter, which was not what she had asked

He dished some homegrown fruit for her and filled her empty glass.


"Daughter, try  the prunes, I picked the plums and canned them in sweet juices.

The young trooper humored the older one, knowing that hurry was useless.

She placed the pits on  the edge of her plate and the juicy pulp enjoyed

Until at last the man was ready to hand down a tool that he had employed.


 He too had been in spots before when the helped citizen helped himself to the trooper.

It had taken him years of pressure and frustration to find a way that was smoother.

But he had found some peace with a system that had brought him consternation.

"When you went to Shelton, I knew that someday we would have this conversation.


If you allow it, the troopers' life can fuel resentment and frustration.

Consider the prune pits on your plate my daughter and learn a valuable lesson.

Unless you are suicidal, you don't eat the prune with the pit.

There is a downside to carrying a badge and you are up against it.


Some of those you try to help, will take a swipe at the blue shirt as you wear it.

The answer to your riddle is that you can't have fruit without the pit.

Don't try to swallow the fruit whole and don't let bitterness build up in your soul.

Or the pit will choke you and resentment will make you old."




Tom Brosman

Used with Special Permission of the Author
Copyright © October 2005 - All Rights Reserved

and may not be duplicated without permission

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