1979: Geoff McNabola and I were driving from Concord, Mass, to an anti-nuclear meeting in Cambridge, and we were late. Geoff was one of the mainstays of the Concord-to-Worcester contingent: capable, hard-working, and bursting with energy. But he drove like a maniac at the best of times, so it didn’t surprise me when a Cambridge cop stopped us as we were whipping round the Fresh Pond rotary. Since I fall uncharacteristically quiet in the face of traffic policemen, it fell to Geoff to deal with him.
“Do you realize how fast you were going?”
The officer began with a standard script. Geoff, however, threw him right off-balance with his non-standard reply—one I could never have gotten away with:
“Officer, we’ve got to go. We’re already late for a meeting to save the world. Do you want to make us even later?”
With his shock of blond hair, mischievous grin, comforting Boston accent, and easy confidence, Geoff was the fresh-faced all-American boy next door, nothing like the stereotypical anti-nuclear activist, a cross between Robert Redford without the wrinkles and a young Bill Clinton. Not even the cop could resist him. Instantly disarmed, he dismissed us with a wave of his hand:
“Go on with you then, get outta here.”
And that was it—we were free. Infuriating—but very useful.