Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

McClellan: Overdue, but with an Excuse

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

McClellan: Overdue, but with an Excuse

Article excerpt

My wife was driving our daughter's car recently when she was pulled over in Maplewood. The plates were expired. It's genetic, my wife thought. Lorna is not to blame. She gets this from her father.

I would not (and did not) argue with that assessment. I was once stopped for expired plates, and when the officer asked for my drivers license, it turned out that, too, had expired. Plus, I had several unpaid parking tickets. The officer gave me a ride to the precinct station.

Another time, I amassed some parking tickets on my wife's car and forgot to pay them. In fact, I didn't even tell my wife I had gotten any tickets. Why would I? I intended to pay them. But I didn't, and when my wife was stopped for speeding in the county, the young officer ran her plates, discovered the unpaid parking tickets, and took her to the precinct station.

She was, at the time, eight months and three weeks pregnant, and understandably overemotional. A sergeant took a look at her and asked the young officer what was going on. Unpaid parking tickets from the city, the officer replied. Forget those tickets and take this lady back to her car before she has a baby, the sergeant said.

No harm, no foul, right? As I said, she was understandably overemotional. She blamed me.

Happily, I have gotten more responsible as I have gotten older. I keep my plates current and I pay my parking tickets.

Now and then, though, the past catches up with me. Last week, I decided to clean my study. I found a couple of overdue library books. I had taken them out in February 1980. It's not as bad as it sounds. I had renewed them in April 1980. Still, that is 37 years. What would the overdue charges be? That is, if I returned them.

Apparently, the library had forgotten about the books. Maybe nobody had even asked for them in the last 37 years.

They were, "The Mexican Revolution and the Catholic Church: 1910-1929" by Robert E. Quirk. Also, "Mexican Martyrdom" by Wilfrid Parsons, S.J.

Maybe the library is like traffic court where a person can plead "guilty but with an excuse." I have one, sort of. I got married in December 1979. I had spent the previous few months living in a boarding house in Colima, Mexico. (That accounts for my taste in books.) I moved to St. Louis because Mary was already here in dental school. When I took those books out of the library, I was unemployed. By the time I was supposed to return them, I'd been hired by the paper. I was so busy, I forgot about the books. …

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