CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

March 25, 2008

DRUNK DRIVER—OR NOT? Passing a Sobriety Test


How many times have you been pulled over for drunk driving—when you haven’t been closer to an alcoholic beverage than the foot to the crest of Mt. Washington?

It’s happened to me twice.

I may not be a tea-totaller, but I usually only imbibe when I substitute wine for pain medication. It works without the disdainful side effects.

One thing I have never conquered is maintaining steady speed on superhighways. I usually find a car going a comfortable rate and pace myself to it.

The first time I was on the Atlanta beltway, returning to Stone Mountain from Roswell late at night. Traffic was minimal and I was tired following a visit with my cousin. I knew my speed was varying, so I wasn’t surprised when I was pulled over. The police officer greatfully allowed me to continue, cautioning me to take care.

The second time I was traveling unfamiliar country roads between Slippery Rock and New Castle because the bridge was out on the familiar road. Again, it was late at night. I truly didn’t know the way, so I drove slowly, stopping at each intersection to determine whether I should turn or go straight.

A car was following me, and knowing how irritated I would be following someone driving like I was, I pulled into a church parking lot to let it pass. It did, and I noted with dismay it was a police car. Sure enough, as I passed the next driveway, he pulled out. He continued following me and I knew it was only a matter of time before he would stop me.

“Darn!” I thought, coming to another intersection. I stopped and made my decision about which way to turn. After about a mile, I knew I had goofed. I had no idea where I was, or how to correct my misjudgment. There were no businesses in this rural community, nor were there any homes with lights on.

I did the only thing I could think of. I pulled over to the side of the road.

My gender protectiveness knowledge told me the police officer could be an impersonator, and so I took defensive actions. I locked my door, kept my foot on the gas and rolled the window down only enough to talk through. No way was I going to exit the car in this environment! If he would ask me to open the car door, I was planned on taking off to the nearest lighted, populated area—where ever that was—and stop there.

As I expected, the car pulled up behind me, lights on. The officer exited his vehicle and strolled confidently up to my car.

“You got a problem, lady?”

“Yeah, YOU!” I snapped. “You’re following me with your headlights in my mirror makes me nervous! I’m trying to get home and I am unfamiliar with the back roads I had to take because the bridge is out. Now I made a wrong turn and am totally lost!”

He asked me where I was headed and I stuttered and stammered. My specific name and date memory deficit was in full force. I couldn’t recall the names of any of the streets, and there were poor landmarks through the country. However, I managed to communicate my destination, and the officer directed me how to go.

As he walked back to his car I could hear him mutter: “And I thought I’d caught me a drunk driver!” However, he quit following me and I went on my way.

Neither officer made me take a sobriety test. I was fortunate, because even fully sober and alert I could never pass that test.

Who’s the president of the United States?  Er, ah. Oh, his family has a summer home in New England, his father was also a president and his election was extremely close, determined by numbers in one southern state. But his name?

What date, year is it? Ooh, it’s fall, can I look at my newspaper or store receipt to check? No? What’s the next question?

How old are you? Well, wait a minute—that’s easy if I do the math correctly. What year is it? OK, this year minus my birth year—head math is so interesting!

So this part of the test I couldn’t pass. Next comes walking a straight line.

Ok, officers, here’s my wrists, handcuff me and take me in. I cannot now nor ever could walk a straight line.

Now for the breathalyzer test. OK, I know I can pass that unless dog-eared breath skews the results. I willingly blow into the machine but wait—how much breath does it take? I had to quit trumpet lessons in elementary school because I cannot puff a lot. It’s probably hereditary asthma. Will I fail this test too?

I could never pass a sobriety test…and this fact leaves me vulnerable to prosecution of drunk driving or being diagnosed a senile in my ever-aging body. I cannot walk a straight line, recall today’s date, name the president. I couldn’t do these things when I was a child. In fact, I even named the memory stuff during a court hearing: specific name and date memory deficit. It flew.

I think I should carry the following warning in my purse, to pass to the next police officer who pulls me over on the suspicion of drunk driving:

I AM NOT DRUNK…NOR DO I  HAVE ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE…TO TEST THE EFFECTS OF A SERIOUS HEAD INJURY, PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING!

I cannot name the president or the date—I am a victim of specific name and date memory deficit.
I cannot walk a straight line under any circumstances.
I do not have the “wind” to pass a breathalyzer test.

So, now what, Officer?

For more reading, click on ARE WEBSITES (BLOGSITES) BENEFICIAL TO WRITERS?

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