Saturday, July 29, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The Athens OH incident

If you have never recited the alphabet backwards, it is not as easy as it appears.  The difficulty also increases when an Ohio State Patrolman is staring at you with a serious face.  I had this experience when I was pulled over in the band van on the way to play a show in Athens OH.  I was driving on whatever that state route is coming down south from Columbus simply minding my own business.  Well, to be fair I was speeding in a van with four guys blaring The Beat Farmers with the windows down.  Making matters worse was that only seconds before coming to the attention of law enforcement, I had opened a can of Budweiser.  You see, we were very close to our end destination and had only gassed up minutes before.  Leo had bought a six pack inside the store, passed the beers around, and I though “Well, why not?  We are one exit away and I sure am thirsty!”.

When the lights flashed behind me, I knew I was in a difficult position.  I had just made a wild lane change to pass a mini van while we were hurlting by well past the speed limit.  I had the beer can between my legs, and as it was mid afternoon, the clear windows of the van made trying to hide the beer somewhere impossible.  The cop approached the car with the gravel crunching under his feet.  Do you know why I stopped you?  I immediately thought “because I was doing 85 mph driving recklessly while having an open beer between my legs?” but instead responded “I might have been a touch over the limit?”.  He looked down at the beer between my legs.  What do we have here?  “Look, I realize this looks really bad, but I literally took one sip of this.  We are getting off at the next exit and I figured since we would be stopping in a minute that…” Get out of the van sir.

This was during the Early Days of Bitter Struggle in The Cowslingers.  We were not exactly the most mature group of gentlemen.  A great example of this is that when I started to go through the litany of roadside sobriety tests, our bass player Tony started to film me with a video camera while they all laughed loudly.  I did not feel then, or now, that this particular course of action enabled the officer to look upon me favorably.  I walked the line.  Did the alphabet.  Fingers to nose.  He then did the pen trick where my eyes had to follow the motion of the pen.  I felt confident that as I had truly had one sip of Bud, I should be able to pass the tests and get off with a speeding ticket.  This is when he threw me a curveball.

“I know that you say that you just had that one beer, but how about we go back to the station and you take a breathalyzer?”  Sure.  No problem.  Why do you think I am bullshitting you?  “It’s just policy sir.”  We then hashed out an agreement to have Bobby drive the van to the station as we all swore he hadn’t been drinking as he was underage.  This was not the truth.  For some unknown reason, he believed us or decided it was worth the risk.  I sat up front with the cop and Bobby drove the van behind us as we went to the station.  I made small talk on the ride.  “So… How long have you been in the law game?”  I think he found my flippant attitude either proof of my absolute guilt or perhaps innocence.  We arrived and he escorted me into the station.

They sat me in a back room by myself for about 20 minutes.  The door opened and the cop that had pulled me over walked in with another younger cop.  They asked me to stand and they then did the pen trick.  The older cop looked over at the younger one and gave him a raised eyebrow.  There was something they didn’t like on that pen trick, and they thought they had me dead to rights.  They then both walked out of the room again and kept me on ice for another 20 minutes.  When they returned they took me to The Breathalyzer Room.

The two cops got very professional at this point.  They spoke in stiff language no one uses as a way to add some formality to me blowing into a machine.  “Sir at this time we will administer the breath alcohol test with the Lynx 200-A2 machine.  We will request that you blow into tube A until light B is illuminated at which time the test will be commenced.”  So you want me to blow into that straw until you tell me to stop?  “Yes sir.”  Guys?  What do you say we make this interesting?  “Excuse me sir?”  I reached into my front pocket.  I said, I have $47 on me.  What do you say we bet $47 that I pass this test?  You obviously think I am lying because of the old pen test.  “Sir, we are not by regulation allowed to participate in a wager of that nature.”  Come on!  You know you think you got me. 

They would not take the bet.  I leaned forward towards the tube.  Now, I knew that I was clean.  However, I don’t care who you are, the thought crosses your mind that the machine could be rigged like a Reno slot machine.  Cop #1 tells me to blow into it while Cop #2 hits a button on the floor to produce a predetermined result.  Next I find myself being thrown into a cell screaming “I was framed!  Framed!”.  I found myself suddenly very nervous as I blew into the tube.  The machine beeped.  I sat back.  What does it say?  “You passed the test sir.”  The first cop looked at the results a second time in disbelief.  “OK, I am just going to give you a ticket for the speeding.  I am going to just give you a warning for the lane change, open container, lack of seatbelts, and general recklessness.”  Thanks man!  I really appreciate it!  You should come out to the gig tonight?  We’re playing the Union.  I will put you on the list.  “Really?”

So that’s how a couple State Cops came to see us play in Athens on a Saturday night.  It turned out that my eyes flinched at the end of the pen test, a sure giveaway to someone that has overindulged.  What he didn’t take into account was that I was wearing contacts, which was causing the tick at the end of the eye motion.  We laughed about it and all had a good time.  The younger cop bought a shirt from us.  Ironically it had the “Drink and Drive Records” logo on the back.  I don't think he saw the back design when he bought it.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home