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Department of Public Safety Officer Keith Anderson sighed deeply. He knew he was caught.
“I was a worried someone like you would find out about this,” he told me “I didn’t want that to happen.”
I don’t blame him. He was about to be publicly outed as the law enforcement officer who took away an old man’s driver’s license, his automobile and his last shred of personal freedom, then turned around and gave the old man … a family.
“I know things like this sometimes go public,” Anderson said. “But I’ve got to say, the last thing I expected was to be ratted out by my mom.”
Bless her. Grace Anderson wasn’t about to let her son get away quietly with such behavior. So she contacted me.
Officer Anderson has been with DPS for 21 years, patrolling the beautiful pines around the Heber, Snowflake, Show Lo area.
A while back he made a series of traffic stops involving an elderly gentleman driving a red 2015 Chevrolet Camero … really … slowly … and weaving all over.
“I told him that he’d have to speed up and be more aware of staying in his lane and so on,” Anderson said. “He told me that he like driving slowly. Liked looking around. Finally, I had to give him a ticket.”
Anderson discovered that the man’s driver’s license had been suspended and revoked. The car was impounded.
“I gave him a ride home and we got to talking,” he said. “He told me that he’d retired from the Post Officer back in 1972. That he lived alone. Loved to drive. We talked about how during World War II he served in Australia, building P-51 airplanes. I dropped him off and, honestly, I couldn’t get to sleep that night, worrying about him.”
The man’s name is Alfred. He is 98.
Anderson took him to the MVD office and cleared up his traffic violations. Alfred signed papers promising never to drive again. Anderson then got in touch with a lawyer Alfred had been working with, believing Alfred would have to sell the Camero.
“But Alfred loves that car,” Anderson said. “So we worked out a deal with the lawyer where we agreed to drive him wherever he needs to go.”
By “we” Anderson means him and his family. It started with a few errands. The grocery store. Maybe a spin through the forest. But it quickly became Sunday dinner and much more.
“I told Alfred recently that we’ve adopted him,” Anderson said. “He’s a part of our family now.”
They see him just about every day. They’ve learned that Alfred was one of nine children. All deceased. That he never married. A few years back he lost a leg to illness, but he still gets around. Still savors his independence.
Only now he has back-up. He has family.
The Camero is parked in the driveway of Anderson’s house.
“Some people might look at this as a hassle,” he told me. “But it’s not. Alfred has made my life better, and my family’s life better. You come across a lot of bad things on a job like mine. But sometimes you get lucky. Luckily for us, Alfred is a terrible driver.”