Monday, September 27, 2010

The Best Traffic Stop Ever

On a recent Friday night I was pulled over.

The officer approaches the passenger door and shines his light through. I never do get his name, but I like him.

"Can I see your license? Where are you coming from? Do you know why you were pulled over?"

I was stopped because my taillights were out. No big deal there, just a quick trip to the garage.

"Why are you sweating? It's a cool night."

"I was working out right before I left campus."

"What were you doing?"

"Tai chi, capoeira, different martial arts."

"Where were you working out?"

"In the grass."

"What's that in the seat beside you?"

"It's a musical instrument. It's called a berimbau."

"Would you mind stepping out here onto the curb?"

I get out.

"Have you ever been arrested?"

"No" (to myself, 'not to your knowledge').

"Are you on any medication?"


"Have you ever taken any drugs?"

"Just alcohol and weed."

"Are your pupils always that small?"

I'm not sure what to say to this, and communicate so through body language.

He explains that he is a DAR officer, and he notices that I am sweating and have constricted pupils, so he has to make certain that I am not under the influence of any substances and am safe to drive. I consent to cooperate. Next is being searched and sitting on the curb, a rigamarole that can be highly entertaining if you don't have anything to worry about and aren't in a hurry.

Time passes as more cops show up to make a total of five. While I am sitting on the curb the first cop shines his light over my gold colored pedicure and I see the beam do a double take. "Were you doing tai chi barefoot?" I answer in the affirmative.

A lady cop asks me what I am studying. "Math", I answer.

"Oh, I hate math. I got it right up till calculus, and then I gave up."

"Well, know what? One time, in the fourth grade, I was supposed to learn long division, but my teacher made me solve a problem at the board, and I didn't know how, and she embarassed me in front of the whole class, and ever since then I've never learned how to do long division." That gets a chuckle.

My pulse is taken a number of times, my eye tracking and pupil responses are tested, I estimate 30 seconds while looking at the sky. "Do you live in your RV?"


"Where do you park?"

"On campus, or at a friend's house, or wherever I feel like."

"Do you mind if we look inside?"

"Not at all."

The first cop and the lady cop thoroughly search my house. "You are what we call in the law enforcement world an 'anomaly'."

"I'll take that as a compliment."

"You display the textbook signs of being under the influence of meth or heroin. But you seem highly lucid, and what with being in grad school, the organic food, the tai chi, the books on Buddhism, the yoga mat, I can't see you shooting meth into your veins to get high."

Belly laughing, I say "I've never done meth or heroine in my life."

He thanks me for my cooperation, I thank him for doing his job, shake his hand, and drive on, in an elevated mood and still in plenty of time for my first ever open-mic performance at the nearby Egyptian Tea Room.

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