One of the clues, when you’re trolling for DUIs (or DWIs, or OUIs, or whatever your poh-poh calls drunk driving), is bright lights.
It’s called failure to dim and it’s a brilliant indicator of someone who might be impaired. If they drive around without ever dimming their headlights, they might well be three…or four…or eight sheets to the wind.
So a few nights ago, I’m bopping along, patrolling my roads, when I see a car a good mile away. They’re coming along and I’m watching and watching. Then my hand goes up over my eyes ’cause they ain’t making no kind’a move to dim those square heads.
Now, once upon a time, when the economy was good and I was on nights, I was one of the mini-DUI Kings. I wasn’t the department leader, but I was certainly in the Top 2. But that was many years ago in a galaxy populated by a good economy and more officers on the road. It’s been probably two years since I had a night time DUI and nearly a year since I had one at all.
And since this is an incredibly perverse profession – where a good day for me is, by definition, a bad day for someone else – I started to get excited. See, I love hammering DUIs…call it the residual baggage of people in my life getting hit and hurt by drunken assholes wielding heavy cars like weapons.
So, as the car is coming my way, I start getting my shit together: get the portable Breathalyzer ready, make sure my ticket book and tow sheets are handy, start looking for a good place to pull him over that’s safe and offers a reasonably flat surface on which he can do some sobriety tests.
He keeps coming, still doesn’t dim his headlights, and finally passes.
Going really slow.
Like Little Old Blue Haired Lady Slow.
Like Creepy White Van Stalking Teen-Aged Girls Slow.
That, in and of itself, is also a clue. Sometimes, drunks are so intent on using their signal or staying in the lane that they end up driving twenty under the limit.
So now I’m really excited. This is going to be a fun night. But I also notice, as he passes, that he has only one taillight.
Dink. Another reason to stop him.
I turn around, get him pulled over, and realize it’s a Pimp Daddy Caddy. Late ’70s, gleaming white, huge tailfins, about 47.4 feet long and half as wide.
There’s a sign in the back window, behind the driver: ‘Just Married.’
And the passenger? A chick wearing a white wedding dress.
Jack-freaking-pot. Coming back from a wedding reception where you know – you know – they got tanked.
I get even more excited.
Get up to the car and the window doesn’t come down so the driver opens the door.
And I get blasted with the thickest, funkest stench’o’booze what’s ever assaulted me. I’m almost instantly drunk just from the contact high!
Dude, it’s like Christmastime! This is going to be a fabulous DUI.
Start going through my patter, ask for his license and insurance.
He’s clear as a bell. No slurred words, no red eyes, no hesitation. She’s the same way, but she also looks a bit angry.
“Have you been drinking?” I asked.
“Yeah, a while ago.”
“And yet…you smell like a cheap brewery.”
She was instantly steamed. “Son of a bitch spilled all over me.”
When I looked, I noticed her beautiful white dress, at least in the front, had quite the yellow tinge. Could’a been piss…smelled like beer.
“This son of a bitch?” I asked, pointing at the groom.
“No, no, the other one.”
“Ah.” I paused. “So where you guys headed?”
They got instantly silent. He looked at his feet, then at her, then at his feet, then at me. Mouth worked, but nothing’s came out.
And she was as beet red as anyone I’d ever seen. In fact, I’m not sure I’d ever seen anyone blush this much. It was all I could do not to laugh.
“Uh…,” he said. Then looked at her again. “The hotel.”
“Ah. Well…have fun with that.”
hehehehe…I can be a monstrous butthead.
“Why were you driving so slowly?”
Again, he looked at her and she blushed. Hardcore cherry red this time and her hands instantly came together in her lap. They’d been on the door and in between them on the seat.
And body language says…hands were…exploring?
“Uh…no reason. Watching for deer?”
“Are you asking me or telling me?”
I left them with that and went to check them out. They were fine. Just married and no warrants! A good way to start the wedding bliss.
Back at the car, I noticed army-issue fatigues in the back seat. “Military?”
He nodded. “I report for my first duty station Monday.”
“Married on Saturday, leaving her on Monday,” I said.
She giggled, but didn’t say anything.
“Kentucky,” he said.
“Fort Bragg,” I said.
“No, Fort Campbell,” he said. “Screamin’ Eagles.”
“Eighty-Second,” I said. “Cool.”
I stared at him as she laughed out loud. At me, I’m pretty sure.
“So obviously I know dick about the military,” I said.
I think she muttered ‘obviously,’ but I’m not sure. If she did, it didn’t feel malicious so I’m good with that.
I asked him to count backward for me from some number to some other number, fairly well convinced at this point he wasn’t drunk.
And he promptly screwed it up. Badly.
“Dude, what’s up? You nervous?”
He looked back at her. She blushed again.
“Right,” I said. “First night nerves.”
I leaned in the car, handed his license back, and whispered, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
And walked back to my squad, whistling.
They were still sitting, looking stunned and embarrassed, as I drove off.
I hope he had a good night. I hope he had a good night the next night, too, ’cause he’s military now and while everyone in Washington says they want to end the wars, no one has taken a single damned step toward actually doing that. For all I know, that kid, embarrassed on his wedding night, could already be on his way to his own killing field.
Keep your head down, dude, and make sure you come back for that whacked out Pimp Daddy Caddy.