Learning how to drive is a daunting task; sometimes filled with unanticipated
responsibility. When a Georgia State Trooper is a friend of your immediate
family, the days of learning are sometimes overflowing with unexpected
His name was Joe White, a high ranking Sergeant who was later promoted to
Lieutenant, and someone who was subject to drop by our gas company business
several times a week. His uniform was always immaculate, and his dark hair was
cut in a traditional flat-top. He had a booming voice, and was considered to be
as good looking as a swashbuckler.
He rarely patrolled the highways in the surrounding counties; rather spent his
time working with the Knights of Columbus and presenting educational programs
during school chapels. Once I obtained my learner's permit, he made sure to
check on my progress; frequently asking quizzing questions that came directly
from the driving literature. I knew not to give flippant answers; Lieutenant
White was serious about the business of safe driving.
A few days before my sixteenth birthday he stopped by the office on the pretense
of offering early congratulations on the upcoming celebration, and to issue one
last series of questions; but when the verbal lesson concluded he requested that
I drive him to neighboring Lumpkin. Although at first I felt intimidated by
his presence, it became clear that he want to be sure that I could successfully
complete the driving examination. The trip included passing vehicles, hand
signals, and parallel parking in front of the Stewart County Courthouse.
The day before my birthday he again stopped by the office but this time he
entered the door with a big smile on his face, and after talking privately with
my parents, he made a surprise presentation. Lieutenant Joe White offered this
startled teenage driver with her first permanent license; signed, sealed and
delivered in person.