Friday, June 08, 2012

Awkward Moments: The Police (not the band)

For being someone who never does anything against the law, I have certainly had some crazy (and unfair) run-ins with the police over the years. Between nearly getting arrested for "excessive drug use" (I've never done drugs a single time in my life) by a cop who could "sense drugs - even pills - when someone has taken them", to getting cuffed and slammed on the front of a police car with a gun trained on me for "kicking in a public bathroom door and stealing all of the toilet paper at a swimming pool" as my other friends with me at the time were calmly and politely interviewed by the many, many officers who came to stop the infamous Toilet Paper Bandit, I've had more than my share of misunderstandings with the law. With this in mind, I feel I am completely in my rights to get rather paranoid when a police car gets behind me, even though chances are I haven't done anything. 

...I should note that, as far as the toilet paper theft is concerned, I've never stolen anything (tp included) except when I was six or so and I took a 5 dollar bill off of the mantle in my grandparents home. And I thought the face on the bill was cool looking (6 year old me respected beards) which is why I took it. I still very vividly remember the shame of admitting my crime to my family.

The point is, there's other people out there the police should probably be focused on more than me, especially in my neighborhood, which is where this incident went down.

Last Friday, I was kindly invited to some sort of shindig at the zoo. I never did know what the official name of the event was, but it was sort of like Oktoberfest except with wild animals, which initially struck me as a bad place to have people consuming lots of alcohol. So I went and, while I don't drink, who doesn't love the zoo, hot dogs, and being with friends?

Important to the story; though I don't drink, I gladly try sips of different drinks to see what their flavor is and, basically, remind myself why I don't drink, as every sip of alcohol always does. And when I say "sip" I mean "wet my lips so the hint of flavor gets on there". I had a sip of about 5 or 6 different beers, each one tasting increasingly like wood, or feet, or wooden feet during the 3 hours I was there. The total volume of those sips would probably add up to a teaspoon. Far less than the shot of NyQuil I take when I'm sick which, due to my low alcohol tolerance, will find me afterwards going "WOOOO I'M SICK!!!" and ripping my shirt off like a professional wrestler.
When you arrive at the Zootoberfest, they give you an actual glass that you carry around to sample the various drinks and, upon leaving, you take it home with you. Obviously mine didn't see much use but at some point it was used for drinks when there was no water to be found to rinse out the other glass.

The actual zoo visit was uneventful; the line for The Grilled Cheesery was way too long, which was very sad but I was uplifted by seeing a 40 lbs rabbit, and eating a delicious pretzel and hot dog, and having good company, so all-in-all, great evening.

As we are leaving, I think, "perhaps having two open glasses smelling heavily of alcohol in the front seat with me isn't a great idea" but then I dismiss it, figuring I have to get the glasses home somehow, and besides, what are the odds of being stopped? High, apparently. Very high.

The last time I was pulled over, it was literally in my drive-way. The officer had seen my brake light was out, which I did not realize, then swarmed me when I pulled into my home. Nothing of note there; a bunch of people looking out of their windows, glad it wasn't them, and I was given a warning and off he goes.

Back to the zoo night, I am less than a mile home when I pass a cop parked in the very obvious "waiting to see someone slip up and pounce" spot. My first thought is "I hope I wasn't speeding" but that's pretty much always my first thought. I pass and he doesn't move, whew. Safe. Then as I get to the red light, he pulls out and behind me, but in a normal fashion. The traffic light changes and we proceed. My cars tail light had come to mind around this time, but clearly I was good to go or he'd have gotten me. I tell my friend in the car "last time I was this close to home, I got pulled over for a dead tail light. I'm glad they are both working this time.

Naturally, no sooner have I spoken than "booooeeeeeewwww" (siren sound), the lights come on and I'm pulled over. That's when a moment of panic sets in. The glasses!

"Oh crap. Hide the glasses".
That alone makes me sound pretty guilty.
My friend grabs the glasses and is about to put them on the floor when suddenly a blazingly bright light shines in HER window, right as she has both glasses held up and in front of the window. There's no way the glasses weren't seen. She puts them back into the cup holders and we fumble trying to roll the window down. It's my car, I know that the window control is on the center console, but we are both hitting every button but that one. Doors are locking, flashers are turning on and off, and it looks like we are stalling. I manage to pull myself together and roll the window down.

The cop is very laid back, "yeah I just wanted to let you know your tail light is out. If you'll get me your info so I can run it, I'll give you a warning and send you on your way".
Instead of just complying, I figure it's a good idea to tell him that, "yea, I was just telling my friend here about this happening before and how you're supposed to replace both lights but the other was fine so, despite it being $3 to replace it, I just went on my way" and rambling away like the Micro Machine guy. The ceaseless, inane rambling of the guilty.

"Sir, have you had anything to drink?" and by reflex I say "no" which, considering my less than teaspoon of manly "sipping", is true. However my first thought is "I'VE LIED TO THE LAW" and I mentally start to fall apart.

Normally in such a situation, anytime I reach for something, I tell the officer what I'm going for and where it is. But as stated, I'm falling apart and feeling guilty even though I'm not, so I reach (waaaaaay too quickly) for my wallet to get my license, as previously requested. I get a very quick, stern "SIR do you have a WEAPON in this vehicle" and his hand goes for his hip. Given the shadiness of my neighborhood, I'm surprised he didn't blast me out of pure anticipated self-defense. I replied (quickly) in the negative and told him what I was reaching for. Everything settles back down and he heads off.

He can't have been gone for more than half a minute when he gets back and says "our computers are going a little slow, can you step out of the car for a minute please". Oh boy. I join him on the sidewalk, which of course I trip over as I step up on it, and he says, "I want you to do this for me" and he describes how he wants me to put both hands over my mouth (as if I had just seen something shocking) and follow the pen of his with my eyes.

First off, I'm so nervous at this point that my hands are clamped down on my mouth and over my nose (which for some reason I covered as well) so very tightly that I can't breathe through my hands and I'm nearly causing myself to hyperventilate. But I'm worried moving my hands away will cause me to fail the test, so I leave them. I'm not sure my frantic breathing was helping me seem like I was innocent, though.
Second, it's pitch black outside. I am in front of him and blocking any light from his car, and behind him is nothing but darkness. And his pen is completely black. For a minute I thought he was completely messing with me and had no pen. I do my best to follow it but am basically just watching his hand move because I simply can't see the pen most of the time. 

After this, he holds it straight in front of me at arm's length and says for me to take my index finger and touch the tip of the pen. Pfft, easy. I go for it and as you might expect miss it by about an inch. Then it just all comes out, how it's dark and the pen is dark and he has a black outfit on and I can't see the black pen against the black background, maybe if I moved and let the light hit him, etc etc. More ramblings of someone who is clearly guilty-ridden. 

Thankfully, there's not really much after that. He looks to me and says, "did you just have one?" and I said, "no, no, I don't even drink at all" which, I now realize, is probably a bad reflex simply because it's not that believable. Most people drink SOME. I followed it up with a smooth, "I was the designated car driver type person from the thing at the zoo place". I get a warning about the light, and am sent on my way, and no cuffing or guns or anything like that. It could have been a lot worse.

The next day, I'm at a Taste of Nashville with another friend. It's a similar event but it has things for me to do as well, namely eat tasty food. But they do give you two plastic cups to sample the drinks when you first arrive. At one point I'm holding both my cup and my friend's cup as they are in the bathroom, mine filled with booze-free lemonade (but I had to ask for it specific because all the lemonade had booze in it) and another that was clearly alcohol, when who should walk by me but the officer from the previous night. I on reflex threw both cups into the nearby trash and headed the other direction. 

My friend was not pleased I had tossed away the drinks but at least I narrowly avoided jail yet again.

No comments: