From this week's Off the Record...
A READER WRITES: It's about 11 pm, and I'm driving home after a show at the Caspar Inn. As I pass Safeway on Highway 1, the CHP cop who's been trailing me since I literally left my parking space in Caspar decides it's time: He cranks on the light, I curse the steering wheel and we caravan onto a side street.
The cop, who's young and excitable, a Bob's Big Boy-looking guy, trots up to the car. “Sir, were you aware that you were swerving back there?” he asks. I wasn't swerving, of course, but that's neither here nor there. “No, sir,” I reply. “I had no idea.” He asks me how I've spent my evening and if I've been drinking; I reply that yes, over a period of a few hours I had a beer-and-a-half. At which point he asks me to step out of the car. I do the perp walk over to his SUV and begin the routine: I tilt my neck back, look at the stars and count to 30 out loud. Next, I stand on one foot while pointing the other foot out. Again, I count to 30.
Now, to your logical, thinking authority figure, a word problem might come next: If someone, say, like myself—a six-foot-tall, average-build male—said he had 1.5 beers over two to three hours, and did the how-smashed-is-he exam without making a single joke about the Caspar Inn-as-probable cause routine, without so much as teetering from the spins while staring at the stars, without having to even put a second foot on the ground while doing late-night yoga on the side of the road, if I was that cop, I might call it a night. But hey, what's shootin' fish in a barrel without the $8,000 gee-whiz gadget?
So he gives me a breathalyzer. After a couple of minutes, my sobriety registers in a way that logic just never did: 017. Officer Friendly thanks me for my cooperation, gets back in his SUV and slams on the gas.
For more tales of Mendo Coast CHP, click here.