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North Dakota: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

October 9, 2012 by Hailey Goplen

It has taken me a few months to have the courage to write this, but finally, on this rainy day in Fargo, I must confess…

To understand what I’m talking about, I need to start from the beginning. A few months ago Blake and I were driving out to visit friends in Carrington, North Dakota. Along the way, we stopped off in Cooperstown to visit his grandparents. As I was chatting with Blake’s grandma, she mentioned I was in the paper. “Oh? The Forum?” I guessed, figuring maybe my blog had been published without me realizing. “No, not The Forum,” was her response, and she began digging through a stack of her old local papers.

I was confused. I couldn’t figure what could have been published  in the Griggs County newspaper. “Was it my blog?” I asked. She just laughed, told me I would have to wait and see, and kept right on searching. Now, I am not one to get cocky about people reading my blog. In fact, when people mention to me that it has been published somewhere, I turn the color of a tomato and typically shrug it off. But thinking my blog had been published in the Griggs County newspaper, a county with a population of about 2,500 people, and that Blake’s grandma had kept it, I have to admit I was feeling a little high on my horse.

After a few more minutes of searching with no luck, she finally decided to just tell me. “No, it wasn’t your blog,” she replied. “Your name was published.” Hmmm… for honor roll? No, they don’t have honor roll in graduate school. At this point Blake had joined in on the conversation and seemed genuinely interested. “What was it for?” he questioned.

“Well,” she began with a grin, “why were you speeding through Griggs County?”

Remember that color I turn when someone mentions my blog to me? Well, multiply that times a million when I realized why my name had been printed in the paper. Every month the newspaper runs a list of people who have gotten citations, DUIs, speeding tickets, etc. for everyone to see. It brings a whole new meaning to “public record”. Yes, sadly, on my way back from branding cattle I had been speeding through Griggs County on my way to Fargo in desperate need of a shower. I was the only car on the road, had not seen a speed limit sign in miles, and when I passed a police car going in the opposite direction, I didn’t even think twice. Even when I glanced in my rearview mirror to see the cop slamming on his breaks, turning around, flipping on his lights, and pulling up behind me, I assumed he was after someone else. Oddly enough, when I pulled over to let me pass him, he pulled over too. When he came up to my window and asked if I knew why he pulled me over, my pathetic (but honest) response was, “Well, I’m assuming I was speeding. But to be honest, I have no idea what the speed limit is out here.”

You probably can guess what happened next. I was slapped with a ticket (though he did lower the speed so I wouldn’t get any points on my license… thank you officer), and a month later my name was in the Griggs County newspaper for all to see… including my future grandmother-in-law. To top it all off, Blake (my supportive fiancé) was hysterically laughing.

So here is my confession: this seemingly innocent blogger is a criminal. I feel like there is no need to hide this anymore since honestly, all you have to do is find a copy of the Griggs County paper and look for my name.


  1. Kathy says:

    Well now, that IS a rather creative way to get your name in print! I’m sure Blake’s gramma got a good laugh out of it, as I am as well.

  2. Dave from Minnesota says:

    My parents have a police scanner, which is turned on most evenings. They have the sheriffs departments programmed in for all the nearby counties. So when I go visit them, I know to watch my speed so as not get pulled over within 50 miles of their house. They would hear my name getting called in. Although they would also hear what a clean record I have, so it is not all bad.

  3. Elayne says:

    I, too, have been the beneficiary of a kind deputy sheriff who reduced my speed so I wouldn’t have to go to court in the neighboring county, even though I paid a hefty fine. But I chuckled when I realized that I don’t want my name in my local Capital Journal, because they print your age, too, in addition to the fact that you were “speeding in a school zone”.

  4. Terri says:

    That is too funny. I can just visualize the whole scene with the way you told the story! That would be a great comedy sketch for a comedian. Keep up the great blog Hailey!

  5. Steve says:

    I’ve been a Midwesterner all my life. If you blush and shrug off a compliment, you’re already a Midwesterner, or at least far along the road toward it.

  6. Karleen says:

    Two things…first, I had a similar experience when I received a speeding ticket while in South Dakota for a long weekend. A few weeks later, I received a call from an old high school classmate who lives in the western part of South Dakota. She’d received a call from her mom in the eastern part of South Dakota, who’d seed my name in the police log in their local newspaper. My friend was upset with me that I hadn’t stopped to see them while visiting the state! …where everyone knows your name!!

    Then, second, thank you for this blog. I just discovered it! I’m moving BACK to South Dakota after nearly 35 years of living away. Your posts are reminding me why I made this crazy decision to move back to Dakota territory after all these years! I look forward to reading more in the dead of winter when I’m sure ill be cursing that decision. Best of luck to you.

  7. Adam says:

    I never knew they did that I guess I’m glad I never got pulled over by Cooperstown my Grandma would never let me live it down if she saw my name in the paper

  8. marilyn peda says:

    You are too funny! I, for one, think speeding to a shower was smart after a day in the proverbial saddle!

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