We arrived in Memphis, Tennessee -one of the most dangerous cities in the United States- in the midst of the witching hour, lost among a maze of hostile streets, with a dead cell phone and a driver’s side window that wouldn’t roll up – an open invitation to the hordes of drug dealers circling our car.
That’s when I decided to find a police officer to help us find our hotel. We found an officer and explained our situation. The officer was going to escort us to our destination, but he suddenly changed his mind. He warned us that we would have to drive through the ghetto to get there, which was shocking, because we thought we were already in the ghetto.
Then, to our disbelief, the officer told us that that we were not to stop for anything -not even red lights! He said if we got pulled over to give the officer the code, “424 Delta.” We were totally dumbfounded as we watched the officer walk back to his car. If were scared before, we were frightened to death now, because if an officer was telling us to run red lights, we must be in hell!
Off we went, flying through red light after red light, seventy-five miles per hour, our horn blaring. At one point we passed right in front of another officer, and they didn’t even budge! As we passed over a bridge, a humongous cloud of marijuana poured in through our broken window.
We must have passed through twenty lights in about five minutes when, at last, our destination was in sight. Just as we were pulling in the driveway, a police car -lights and sirens on- stopped us in the middle of the road. The officer was yelling at us, accusing us of being drunk, and each time we tried to explain, he would just cut us off.
Finally, I got out the code, “424 Delta” and breathed a sigh of relief as I waited for his response. Staring at my blankly, he suddenly yelled, “There’s no such code!” And then he drove off. We sat in the middle of the intersection, stunned, and then burst into hysterical laughter, tears rolling down our face.