Almost all of who drive, at one time or another, have looked in the mirror and seen lights, and either sighed, cried, or let out a big “doh!” I will share a couple of mine, and one from my wife.
I had been out of the Navy for a few months, and was meeting a friend on his first day out. We had known each other for awhile, and had decided to share a place as roommates. We went out to celebrate, and on the way home decided to relive a moment from the past.
I began driving on the left side of the road, extolling my friend to remember when we rented mopeds and drove around the U.S. Virgin Islands on the left. It was late and there were lights from a car, in the distance. It was the only car in view, as we were in the Mojave Desert town of Apple Valley…
Yes, of course – the lights belonged to a police car. When he stopped and asked what the hell we were doing, I was honest and he let me off with a warning. It’s a good thing too because we had just left a bar. I had more than 3 that night and didn’t really want to have to call an attorney from the drunk tank!
Going back to when I was in the Navy – that’s exactly what happened to me one night… I was stationed on a ship home ported in Norfolk, Virginia. When in port we would spend a lot of time in Virginia Beach. If not at the beach, then in the clubs and bars. This was back before the automatic hero status given today to every military member from cook to combat veteran. Many of the locals didn’t like us squids much.
One hot summer day I was in the back of a friend’s Jeep as we headed to the beach. Quite a few people had squirt guns, and were nailing us pretty good. I decided I needed to arm myself. I found what I thought was a really cool squirt gun. Looking like a little version of an assault rifle, it had a neat rat-tat-tat sound when you pulled the trigger and squirted out water.
We started down the strip in front of the Virgina Beach Boardwalk, crowded with cars. We only made it about four blocks in the traffic. A van came screaming down the other side of the road, and skidded sideways, stopping traffic in front of us. The driver side door flung open, and an officer pointed a shotgun through the down window. Three or four cops came running up from behind, a couple with guns out.
“Let’s have the gun!” One screamed at me. I swear to this day I didn’t mean to do what I did, but I pulled the trigger as I brought it up in the air, the little gun blaring “rat-tat-tat.” The police officer jumped back a couple of feet, startled. As he did, some of the water that had gone up into the air came down on him. Needless to say, not a happy camper was he.
I was dragged out of the jeep, and made to lay down flat in the middle of the road. Not wanting to take it quietly, I began a rather wandering rant to the gathered crowd.
“This is how the Va. Beach police treat someone serving their country!” I yelled, among other things. I was arrested and taken to jail, where I spent about two hours. The Navy Shore Patrol came and got me and took me back to my ship. The officer in charge had a laugh, confiscated my squirt gun, and fired it at sailors on the pier. Nothing else ever came of it.
As for my wife, her embarrassment came last winter when we were driving up to Vancouver, B.C. for the Winter Olympics. I had been driving awhile and we stopped to switch. My wife was experiencing a little lead foot, and I was drifting in and out of sleep. I looked ahead at what seemed to be a white car on the side of the road.
“That’s a cop,” I said, although I wasn’t 100 percent sure. My wife still didn’t see it.
“Up there, on the right.” She was in the left hand lane, and thought I meant ahead of us driving, not on the side of the road. She still didn’t see him.
“There, the cop car you are just about to pass.” She finally saw him, and tried to slow, just as she flew past.
“Do you think he saw me?”
“You are the only other car on the freeway, of course he saw you!” It was early morning, the sun wasn’t even fully up yet.
Yes, he did follow, and did proceed to give a ticket. My wife was mostly embarrassed to know that I had warned her. Just a few minutes earlier I had told her to be careful for police as they like that stretch of I-5.