I Can Top That

My cousin Jack is a structural virologist – with a PhD and a laboratory at the Scripps Institute in La Jolla, California.  He began his career as a professor of biology at Purdue.   Jack read my post “Do You Play Golf” and responded beginning with an “I can top that.”  I read his response. And thought – wow – he did – “top” my post.  Up until now, my “posts” have been of my own creation and authorship. But Jack’s response is so special (and “topping”). I thought you would enjoy . . . . .

Okay Scott, I can top that. It is 1993 and I am on sabbatical in La Jolla, CA.  It is May and my son, Aaron, is finishing his third year at Dayton University.  He needs a car.  Mary and I are only using one car in California because I ride my bike to work.  So we need to get a car back to Indiana for Aaron.  However, I am supposed to be in Japan a week later.  I tell anyone who will listen that I can get the car back to West Lafayette in two days and still leave from Chicago to be in Tokyo for my meeting.   

So – I leave La Jolla at 3 a.m. on a Wednesday morning.  The goal is to be in Amarillo, Texas, the first night (1000 miles) and West Lafayette the second (another 1000 miles).  All is on schedule.  I am on Interstate 40 cruising into Amarillo at about 9 p.m.  I am passing a truck at about 70 mph in a 55 mph zone (mind you – this is 1993).  I see a police car in my review mirror with lights flashing.  I stop. 

The officer comes to the window and asks if I know how fast I am going.  I said 70 when I saw his lights.  He observed that my speedometer was working well.  He asked where I came from.  I responded San Diego.  He looked mildly sympathetic.  Then he asked where I was going.  I said tomorrow I was hoping to be in West Lafayette, Indiana.  He asked what I did in West Lafayette and I responded that I was a professor of biology at Purdue University.  He looked at me – paused – and asked “what is the difference between a eukaryotic cell and a prokaryotic cell.”  I asked if he wanted the long answer or the short.  He said the short was fine.  I said a eukaryotic cell has a nucleus and a prokaryotic cell does not. He smiled and said that “I think we will handle this with a warning.” He walked back to his car and drove off.  I got the car to West Lafayette and I made it to my meeting in Tokyo!

[Printed with permission of my cousin Jack]

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