Last year, a couple of friends and I drove from Albuquerque to New Orleans. Around Houston, we started having car trouble, and by the time we crossed into Louisiana, frequent stops were necessary. We stopped in one town, Breaux Bridges, because it advertized tourist information, so we figured we could stop, let the engine cool down, and maybe get a map of the area to boot. Anyway, we couldn’t find the information center, and so we stopped in a vacant lot next to a towing service, which was closed for the weekend. They had a tow-truck parked out front, and my traveling companions were very mechanically inclined, so while the engine cooled, they admired the truck, speculated about its horsepower, etc. As luck would have it, the owners lived next door, and the woman of the house came out and asked what the hell we were doing. We tried to explain the situation to her, but she seemed to be hard of hearing, and we had to repeat a lot of things. Finally, she went away, and we figured we were fine. Ha, ha.
About five minutes later, too soon for it to be a coincidence, a sheriff’s officer arrived. He said he had recieved a call about some suspicious characters, and repeated some things that the woman had said to him that clearly showed that she had grossly misrepresented the situation, intentionally, or not. She had made no reference to car trouble. In any event, the long and short of it was, he checked all our ID’s, questioned their authenticity, hassled my friends for a bit (I was too busy with the car), and generally did little to dispel the stereotypes of law enforcement officers in small Southern towns. Finally, he said that car trouble or no, he could not be held responsible for anything that might occur if we were to remain within the town limits for much longer. We got the fuck out.
So, does anyone else have any stories in this vein they’d like to share? I’ve been pretty lucky in my travels, this is the only incident I have to report. I’m sure there are far worse out there. My father has some stories of his experiences as a long-haired college student during the sixties that make this look like a routine traffic stop. Anyway, it could be a great public service, the Official SDMB List of Towns to Avoid.