Apparently, in Oklahoma it isn't required by state law to have rear license plates. 









Eric Y

After I completed my final and toughest upper division class at San Francisco State University, I flew out to New Mexico to help my friend Jeff make the move back home to the Bay Area from Albuquerque.  It was the summer of 1996 and he was returning home after breaking up with the girlfriend he moved to New Mexico to be with.  A moving truck was rented for the journey back throughout the Southwest with a few scheduled stops along the way including The Grand Canyon and naturally a night’s sleep in Las Vegas.  Try to visualize us driving into the Grand Canyon in a moving truck.  People were looking at us with a puzzled face as if to ask, “What are you doing?  Moving into the canyon?”  In essence, it was a road trip throughout the Southwest.  As with any decent road trips, it would not be without incidents or interesting moments.   There were many stops along the way, as with the before mentioned Grand Canyon since neither of us had seen it before at the time.  We screamed out looking for the little Indian boy from The Brady Bunch who wanted to be an astronaut.   We also got sucked into the little tourist trap along the road to the Grand Canyon.  Anyone who has ever driven to the Grand Canyon will know what I mean by YABBA DABBA DOO.  We also took small amusement at the security practice of an Arizona Hotel we stopped at because Jeff had some other friends staying there and wanted to say hi.  When we asked for the room at the front desk, the college kid working the desk said, “I’m sorry, for security reasons it is against hotel policy for me to give you their room number, but you can pick up the phone and dial #112.”   Okay, room 112 it was.  Probably standing out, as a more memorable moment was the evening we approached the Nevada border on our way to Las Vegas.

Another stop along the way was to take in the view of the Hoover Dam at the Arizona/Nevada border.   We had just met a trio of women representing three generations.  We had Grandma, daughter, and granddaughter.  No one really looking over 40 in the group, so do the math.  We were all headed to the same destination, LAS VEGAS.   After waving good-bye in their Grand Jeep Cherokee and passing us up the highway on the Nevada side, we heard the sound of sirens and saw the flashing red lights.  Surely we weren't being pulled over for speeding in a moving truck as our new friends just drove past us in their 8-cylinder Cherokee.  There was an empty dirt area along the side of the highway so Jeff pulled over and we awaited instructions.   Over the loudspeaker we heard a voice telling us to step out of the vehicle with our hands up.  It felt as if we were in a bad episode of cops, only we weren’t “bad boys bad boys.”  

As I opened the passenger side door and stepped down from the truck, I knocked my bottle of Evian water onto the ground.   I started to reach back and pick up the bottle as I realized, from the officer’s point of view with his gun drawn on me, it would look as if I was reaching for a weapon.  I quickly stopped and returned to my original position standing with my hands up.  I heard a voice say “that’s right, you can get the water later.”   Don’t need to tell me I don’t want to get shot by anyone with an itchy trigger finger.   The entire procedure was more of a comical event.  Clearly, we were not professional criminals.  When asked to turn around, I wasn’t actually accustomed to the assumed position.  What I ended up doing was a complete 360-degree turn and found myself spinning around to face the officer again.  “Was this where you wanted me facing officer?”   Little did I realize, on the other side of the truck Jeff was doing the exact same thing.  We could have looked like a choreographed ballet act spinning around the truck.  We looked so silly; I believe I even caught a glimpse of a grin from the officer holding back his laughter.   We must have proven ourselves to be no threat as the guns were put back in the holster.     

After we were deemed harmless, the officers explained to us the reason why they pulled us over.   Apparently, it was common for vehicles disguised as U-Haul trucks without license plates to transport illegal aliens from Mexico through Arizona into other states.  As it would be, there were no plates in the back of our truck.   I did mention to one of the officers that we had an Oklahoma plate in the front of the truck as I remembered seeing it during one of our stops for gasoline.   It wasn’t until that moment I realized we only had a plate in front of the vehicle and not the rear.  We later found out from the rental agency it was not required by law to have a plate in the back of a truck for Oklahoma.  That must make it difficult for law enforcement.  After one of the officers checked the registration information, all was good.  Of course Jeff did volunteer to open the back door to the truck so they could see for themselves there were no illegal aliens on board.  However, my thought at the time was in Hollywood movies that would be the ill-timed moment for dead bodies unknown to us to be discovered.   That didn’t actually happen but I did have a slight concern for a second.   All was good and we were free to continue on our journey.  One of the officers said to us we should call the rental agency and tell them they rented us a vehicle without plates in the back of the truck.  Jeff and I gave a simultaneous response, “Oh, we’ll be calling them.”  It was much more pleasant to see the officers smiling as opposed to the guns drawn on us in the beginning.   It was just one more little note to add to the road trip.  As I picked up my water bottle and got back in the truck, I knocked behind me and screamed out, “Okay Manuel, Jose, you can get up from under the carpet now.”   Other friends probably would not have had the same sense of humor under those circumstances.