you shouldn't be driving around with that permit hanging from your rear-view mirror, the highway patrol officer informed me as he shined a flashlight onto my face. may i see your drivers license, please?
i had just pulled into a parking spot at my local CVS drugstore and was about to get out of my car when this burly man walked up to my passenger door.
it was past midnight, and all i wanted to do was buy some anti-itch cream for the bazillion bug bites that were making their presence known all over my arms, legs, and back. *
i had somehow attracted his attention when i drove past his squad car right after he pulled over another vehicle. as his partner walked over to question the driver of the other vehicle, he decided to walk over to mine as i parked my car.
after years of driving around town with that same parking permit hanging from my rear-view mirror -- past police cars, past highway patrol cars, with not one flagging me down and citing me for any infraction -- this guy apparently felt the need to find me guilty of something. and what that was, i had no clue. my registration was up to date. all my headlights and taillights were in working condition. i was wearing my seatbelt. i wasn't talking on my cell phone. i wasn't driving erratically. i didn't hit anyone or anything.
it's on the back seat; i need to get it.... i moved slowly out of my car and grabbed my backpack as he continued to check out various parts of my vehicle with his flashlight. it's somewhere in here... i pulled out a jacket, bags of granola, bottles of water. i'm sorry, but i just came from a race, i explained as i finally located my wallet.
a race?!? he asked incredulously, thinking that no one in their right mind would put on a race at night. so to put to rest any thoughts he may have been entertaining about my being under the influence of some illegal substance -- especially since i was looking very stylish in a baggy t-shirt with hair matted down from sweat -- i quickly added: i ran a 10K at the coliseum this evening. and there was a concert with kanye west afterwards. really cool! **
i'd hoped that my smile didn't look that forced because i was started to get annoyed. the welts on my legs were really beginning to bug me. and i was exhausted and just wanted to take a shower and go to bed.
so how did you do?, he asked. i finished, i replied, as i scratched my arm.
have you had any alcohol in the last two hours? by now, he was shining his flashlight in my face.
no, i said.
have you had anything to drink at all this evening?
i had some with my dinner. i didn't know if the sip of cabernet and the couple of ounces of chardonnay i had at the wine tasting bar at the post-race VIP party *** counted as a drink, but i figured i had to come clean. with my luck, he'd detect the wine that splashed on my hands when i attempted to clap while holding my wine glass...
what time was that?
the race started at 8:30pm, i finished an hour later, then went straight to the VIP lounge for free food and drinks. including that miniscule amount of alcohol. oh, around 9:30, i said. ok, so maybe it was more like 10pm, but the earlier time sounded better...
stand with your feet together, he commanded. i looked down at my running shoes and placed them side by side. follow my finger with your eyes. do NOT move your head. and i did. easily. to the left, then to the right, then back again. i considered crossing my eyes, but i didn't want to piss him off.
he handed me back my drivers license. you shouldn't be driving around with that permit on your rear-view mirror, he reiterated as he walked back to his patrol car.
ok, i said, as i returned my wallet to my backpack and walked into the drugstore.
jeez... what some people will do for entertainment when they're assigned to work the labor day weekend!
* background story #1 - i went camping by the beach in malibu with some friends saturday night and while i feasted on grilled ahi tuna steaks, roasted veggies, campfire s'mores, and chilled champagne, hoardes of mosquitoes feasted on me :( that's what i get for leaving the bug spray at home because i didn't think there were mosquitoes along the southern california coast!
** background story #2 - nike had decided to stage the human race 10K"by joining forces globally to create the world’s largest running event, with the goal of helping humanity in the process through givebacks to global charities." in other words, it was another massive publicity campaign by nike that involved runners in 25 cities around the globe, including the 12,500 who showed up sunday night at the LA coliseum, as well as thousands of remote "nike+ runners" who trained through coach-led purchased podcasts and logged in their miles via an uplink that required them to buy the required sensors and transmitters. so does nike know how to make money, or what? i can honestly say i did it only because of the half-price coupon my friend jackie had forwarded to me. $17.50 for a concert with kanye west? it sounded like a great deal, even if i did have to run 6.2 miles just to gain entrance to the venue!
*** background story #3 - i carpooled to the race with jackie so that i'd only have to foot half of the $10 parking fee. and thanks to her and her nike connections, i was able to join the VIP post-race festivities. so while i schmoozed with nike's loyal customers and wined and dined on the lavish spread, the rest of the race participants were out on the field nibbling on potato chips and drinking bottled water. although in hindsight, if i had been one of the masses outside the fenced-in area, the cop probably wouldn't have found a valid reason to give me a sobriety test... which would have made my holiday weekend story just a little less interesting :)