Second Chances: Part One was first featured on N.L. Belardes blog “Paperback Writer.” It belonged to a series of stories based on what I witnessed while working accross the street from a roach-rent-by-the-week hotel called The Tav Cam Adventures. Another moving story was the one about The Kid In The Window.
However, the story about girl on drugs who was arrested prompted further discussions between my friends and I via email.
We started sharing our own experiences and “wake up calls” and so I’m sharing mine right now. It’s not as bad as the drug thing, but it sure woke me up about drinking and driving.
I had finished my evening shift as a waitress at Mossman’s Restaurant on Buck Owens Blvd (way before it was called Buck Owens Blvd.) There was a country bar attached to the building where my friend was a bartender. That particular night I promised her a ride home. My shift ended before hers, so I decided to wait around while having a few beers.
On our way to take her home I see the dreaded lights asking me to pull over so I do .
The officer walks over to my car and says, “I’m an officer with power…bow down to me! ” OK so he didn’t really say that but don’t most officers seem to have a “bow down to me” sort of stride?
With his notepad in hand, he leans his head down and says in his very man-with-authority voice, “The reason I pulled you over is because you were swerving. Have you been drinking tonight?”
Of course I immediately freaked out! I stared at him for what seemed like an eternity. I didn’t know what to say. I could feel the tears start to fill my eyes and I was sure I was going to start bawling like a scared little baby.
I had beer breath. There was no denying it. I felt so embarrassed and ashamed and scared to death. What do I do? What do I say? Do I lie? Do I tell the truth? Do I try to make a run for it? Nah, my little four cylinder Hyundai S-Coupe was no match for this guy. He could probably skip faster than my cute little wind-up car.
Finally, I took a deep breath and decided to be as honest as possible without really ratting myself out and said, “Well, I did have a beer (meaning three) at the bar after work. But that was about 2 hours ago (meaning just a few minutes ago). And now I’m on my way home (meaning after I dropped my friend off.) There! I was quite happy with my answer. I looked at him to see if he bought any of it.
Of course having confessed to the drinking he wasn’t about to just let me go. Or perhaps because I had been swerving? Either way, he explains to me that he was going to have to give me some tests to make sure I wasn’t over the limit. So he says, “Follow this pen with your eyes, without moving your head.”
I could feel my heart racing a million beats per minute. My face feels flushed and suddenly my hands felt extremely clammy. I freaked out!
“Please calm down Norma , please don’t cry,” I think to myself while taking deep breaths. Then I realized cars are driving by witnessing my humiliation.
Suddenly, instead of crying I start giggling and couldn’t stop. I started saying between laughter, “Oh my goooooooooosh, officer I am so embarrassed. I am sooooo not that girl.” Still laughing, I say, “ I am not the drunk driving girl. I am not the girl that gets in trouble with the law. How embarrassing! I am just a single mom of two kids that rarely goes out, and in fact only stayed after work today to have just ONE beer (*coughLIE cough) because my friend needed a ride home and her shift ends after mine.”
He doesn’t believe me. He is standing there watching me laugh with a serene look on his face, motionless and completely not finding the humor in the situation. I can’t say I blame him. He moves the pen, right to left and I’m still giggling like a little school girl.
I say, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I just can’t stop laughing. This is so embarrassing! Oh my God, eeeeek! I can’t believe I’m getting the drunk test.” I try to stop my silly immature giggling but I just can’t..
He forgives my laughter, but isn’t letting up on the tests. He slowly moves the pen again. His face is now concentrating on my eyes. I can tell he means business. I’m sure he’s very annoyed at me and I start to panic. I try very hard to follow it… while giggling.
“Hold still Norma , follow the stinkin’ pen with your eyes. Don’t move your head. And for God’s sake, STOP LAUGHING,” I think to myself.
Once again… I moved my head. I say, “I’m sorry I’m sorry.. give me one more chance! Just one more! I swear I’ll get it this time.”
He moves the pen again.
I shriek and say, “Oh my gooooooosh, I can just see the headlines now with my ugly assed mug shot in the paper!” Then I “pretend pose” for my mug shot.
So now he finally lets up and starts laughing. I said, “I’m just nervous. You’re making me nervous. I can do this, I promise! But first do you mind if I go across the street to go pee. I really gotta go. Please?”
He says, “Let’s try another test.” So he makes me do the walk in a straight line test. “Heel, toe, heel toe” he says. But I have to pee so bad that I’m crossing my legs and laughing trying not pee and I’m saying, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh,! I’m gonna pee my pants.” We both start laughing. “I am so embarrassed. Officer, I swear I’m not drunk. You can even do the breathalyzer on me if you want. The reason I was probably swerving is because I am driving with my tiny spare tire on, and so the car pulls really bad to the right.”
This was totally true!
He looks at my spare tire, laughs with me. And says, “OK, well I’m gonna let you go. But you better go straight home.”
I say, “Yes, officer, thank you so much. I will.”
I know how differently that story could have turned out and I feel very fortunate that it didn’t. Does anybody else have similar wake up calls or funny/crazy stories about getting pulled over and given a second chance?