(Compiled by Dennis B. Horne)
While presiding over the Florida Mission, 80 cars were assigned to our mission, which meant that 161 missionaries had a car all the time. The rule to be in by 10:00 p.m. was strongly enforced and, for the most part, obeyed.
However, one night I received a call about midnight from a young, inexperienced elder who was greatly distressed. His companion had been locked up in jail. They had missed a stop sign in a little town in northern Florida and were stopped and given a ticket. The policeman had demanded fifty dollars at that time, which the missionaries did not have, so the driver was locked up in jail.
I told the young elder to go right to the home of the sheriff and tell him he had just locked up an ordained minister of the gospel. I continued, "Tell the sheriff that his mission president in Orlando demands that the elder be released immediately, that we will have him in court at the proper time. You might even tell him that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is an active Latter-day Saint and a good friend of the mission president, and that the Church does not allow this to happen."
In about a half hour, the scared young elder called me back and reported that he had been tough enough to get the elder released.
A couple of days later, I went to see the Justice of the Peace. He immediately said, "Now don't ask me to let him off, just because he is one of your missionaries. He is no different than anyone else, as far as I'm concerned, and he is going to pay his fine." I replied, "I didn't come to ask you to let him off. I want you to know that the Church appreciates the fact that he was stopped. We do not want our missionaries breaking the law."
I further explained that "each missionary pays fifty dollars a month for the privilege of driving a car. If they go through their entire mission of twenty-four months without an accident or citation, the Church refunds to them half of that money. This elder is close to the end of his mission and would have had more than $250 coming back to him. Now that he has a ticket, the Church won't refund it to him."
This upset the Justice of the Peace. He replied, "You're tougher than I am. That's no way to treat one of your missionaries."
"Well," I said, "that's the rule. Now you give him a good talking-to, just like you would your own son. By the way, I understand your daughter has been out west. I would hope that if she has any trouble, people will be kind to her, just as we expect you to be kind to this missionary." We then separated on good terms. (The wife of the Justice had just told me that they had received a card from their daughter, who was visiting Yellowstone, reporting on the great time she was having.)
The next day, the young man went before the Justice of the Peace, who told him, "I have decided to tear up your citation. I want you to drive carefully. Don't break any more laws. And I want you to tell your mission president that he owes you money. As far as the record goes, you have not been cited for a violation of the law."
[And here are bonus stories about Brother Rudd escaping a ticket:]
One time I invited one of my associates at Welfare Square to go with me to conference in southern Utah. While driving through Sanpete County we found ourselves exceeding the speed limit by a considerable amount. All of a sudden there was a flashing red light behind our car. We pulled over. The patrolman came up and got his ticket book out. After looking at my drivers license he said, "Where are you two men going?" I said, "We are on our way to stake conference in southern Utah." He said, "I can't understand you Mormons. You are always late and then you have to speed. He said, "Are you going to speak in conference?" I said, "Yes, I will be the concluding speaker." He said, "I'll tell you what I'll do. I am not a member of your Church but I know you are good people. I stop more people on the way to the Manti Temple than you can believe. It breaks my heart to give tickets to people whose only desire is to get to the temple to do something for someone else. This is the hardest part of my job. If you promise me to stand up in conference and tell the congregation to leave home ten minutes earlier so they don't have to speed, it will be a great favor to the highway patrolman who have to ticket all of those who are speeding." He then said, "I won't give you a ticket if you promise to help me out."
As we drove away, I thought to myself, "There's a man who appreciates faithful people." I am grateful for the lesson we learned on that occasion. When I spoke in conference I did as the patrolman requested.
I was returning from a Church assignment, driving through southern Utah with my wife and I was pulled over by a state highway patrolman for exceeding the speed limit. I thought we were only going a mile or two over the limit. I opened my window and he said, "If you can quote the Twelfth Article of Faith, I won't give you a ticket." I had to think fast. I then quoted, "We believe ... in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law." He said, "You look like a Mormon and I don't want to give you a ticket. I just want to warn you to slow down, even though you weren't much over the speed limit." He gave me a big smile and we drove off grateful that day that I looked like a faithful member of the Church even though I was break ing the law of the land, the speed limit. I was also very grateful that I had memorized the Articles of Faith in my youth.