Saturday, July 29, 2006

Deuce Kitty: How I Got Busted for Drunk Driving Eight Times

No, no, I really wasn’t drunk and so really didn’t get busted at all. I just play a really good drunk. Apparently. Since acting was never my thing, it has been quite a surprise to me that I do pretty well in some role play scenarios.

Some of you may remember the day last May when I Got Shot. This time, I was part of a group of role players and evaluators who ran police academy cadets through some realistic exercises in law enforcement. Well, more realistic than the classroom scenarios they had been running in their classes.

The role plays were carried out on campus. The cadets each had their own patrol car, and were fully equipped. Well, okay, so the firearms were plastic, the OC (tear gas) was water, and the batons were foam (or, fauxtons, as I called them). The handcuffs, however, were real, as were the back seats of the patrol cars. Real, too, were their radios and the dispatcher who dispatched the officers to different parts of the campus and responded to their requests for information on the vehicles and individuals pulled over for questioning.

The first day, I was paired with Dep. Mario. We were one of three pairs doing “pedestrian walking in the street”. The scenario that day was for a grumpy pedi who had a previous negative encounter with law enforcement.

I don’t think I did so good on those scenarios, because I don’t think I was cranky and rude enough (I know, I know, that’s a major surprise for those of you who read my Melissa’s Miscellani blog).

As there was plenty of time between each scenario, I got some knitting done on a new pair of Jaywalker socks while chatting with Dep. Mario. He’s had some interesting experiences as a deputy here, and he’s been bitten by ticks several times (and told by doctors that “there is no Lyme here in Sonoma County”) so I’m afraid I sorta launched into my Tickborne Diseases 101 lecture. Poor guy.

Because I like to run “But, what if…?” in my head and aloud, I got to asking, “But, what if this occurred in a stop, instead of that…?” and “But, what if the suspect did …..?” I suspect it was more fun and interesting for me than it was for Dep. Mario, who didn’t know me enough to know that I wasn’t trying to find fault, just giving my often overactive imagination free rein. Poor, poor guy.

The role play periods I signed up for ran from 1700 to ~2000 hrs, including the briefing and debriefing. Thank goodness I signed up for this time of day instead of the morning/early afternoon ones, as we were in the middle of a triple digit heatwave during those weeks.

Where the pedi scenarios were done was, at 1730 hrs, in partial shade, increasing as the sun began to go down. We were aided and abetted by being stationed at the base of a berm that runs along one section of the campus. Here’s the southern end of the berm:

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me that day, so missed getting shots of the flights of ducks that started taking off from behind the berm, heading south to wherever it is they sleep at night. I did get permission to bring my camera on the other nights, and so I took what shots I could, given that I was much busier on the other two nights – the drunk nights. If you’d like to see some of the other photos, check out my Kodak Police Academy July 2006 photo album.

So, the next role play session, I was asked if I wanted to play a drunk driver; I said “Sure!” I was paired with a recently retired officer, Jerry, and I have to say, it was a lot of fun. While I had been looking forward to the role plays as a way to channel my inner psychopath, instead I discovered a previously unknown wealth of detail on How To Be Drunk. An amiable, happy, feeling-not-much-pain drunk.

Now, I will admit that some of that information came first hand from personal experience, but there was also a lot drawn from watching TV and listening to cops talk and reading about such incidents. Not to speak of marathon backgammon, rummy tile, and spite-and-malice nights with my mom where we followed several of bottles of wine by the generous sampling of the contents of my parent’s wetbar. (My mother really never loosened up enough to talk completely openly until about 1-2 AM, after 5 to 6 hours of steady imbibing. And, no, I didn’t’ drive home after she finally went to bed at 3-4 AM!)

Inadvertently the first time, but intentionally thereafter, my handicapped parking placard was incorporated into the scene. (I always leave it hanging from my rear view mirror, which is technically not alowed, because I otherwise forget to hang it up when I need to park in a handicapped space.) The placard helped give versimilitude to my answers to questions about whether I had any health conditions that would affect my ability to complete the dreaded FSTs: field sobriety tests.

Along with channeling my mother and COPS, I took advantage of my neuroborreliosis and its affect on my ability to do things like stand with my eyes closed and walk a straight line. Sometimes my performance was just that—acting—but other times it was pure neurotoxins and screwed up brain.

On my first day drunk, I began having increasing problems maintaining a serious (albeit seriously drunk) demeanor, as whenever the officer got to the heel-to-toe FST, I kept fighting off an increasingly severe case of the gigglies. Why? Because I kept playing the DUI Stop video in my head (if you click the link, make sure your speakers are turned on).

By my fourth and last scene of the day, I really was losing it. Thank goodness Officer R. stopped me near enough to another berm that I could use a duck feeding atop it as a distraction to try to derail that damn video running in my head.

After the end of scene, the officer shook his head and said something to the effect that I looked so nice and normal, sitting in the back of the classroom, knitting, while the officers, roleplayers, and evaluators were being briefed – and here I was, so clearly not normal!

My second day of being—er, playing—drunk went much the same. The differences were my working with a different evaluator, Dep. Tom, and doing my driving on a different part of the campus. The area I was in this time is called the skid pan, where the students practice various driving maneuvers, including skidding on slick surfaces. This large paved parking-lot sized lot was bordered on one side by an actual parking lot, a berm, and a farm.

On the right side of the photo, you can see the darker area that can be slicked with oil or water; ahead is a wall behind which is an actual parking lot; to the left is an area of gravel and shallow ditch behind which you can see:

Horsies! Pretty horsies! Needless to say, I incorporated them shamelessly into the scene.

A word about FSTs: there are a lot more of them then you generally see depicted on TV. The first night of drunk driving, the FSTs were all familiar to me from having seen them so depicted. On the second night, though, all of the officers used some different ones on me.

One of the FSTs held the very real possibility that I would fall right over – for real. Fortunately, it was one where I controlled the timing, so I knew that if I felt myself going, I could terminate it before I actually did land on my ass. But, still, I said, in character, “You gonna catch me if I start to fall??

Different officers had different responses to that question. The last officer on the last day, however, had the most unique one.

“You gonna catch me if I fall?” I asked.

“No,” he responded, “but my partner, Officer Kitty, will.”

My brain sorta froze at that point. I’d heard the officer call Dispatch and request backup, and know he was told that none was available. That, coupled with the fact that I hadn’t heard another car pull up, made me think he was pulling my leg. But, in due drunk form, I lurched around to take a look, and there was Officer Kitty!

Okay, so in the photo above she is sitting atop my shredder at home, but there she was in the gravel patch at the side of the skid pan, having come from the farm next door to check out what these silly humans were doing. A tiny thing, no longer than 5” from shoulders to tail. Still in character, I bent down and made little smoochie “here, kitty kitty” sounds, and over to me she came. Realizing that I really did have to finish the scene before really engaging the kitten, I turned back, and finished the FSTs.

As the officer was cuffing me, he told me I was under arrest for drunk driving. At that moment, one of the horses neighed, so I told the officer the the horsie didn’t think I should be arrested. Well, apparently Mr. Ed has no legal footing in drunk driving arrests, and so I was led to the (very uncomfortable) back seat of the patrol car and advised of my choice for breathalyzer or blood test.

At that point, my part of the scenario was physically over (I get uncuffed and, if actually seated in the car, I get to leave it), and the officer and evaluator discuss how the officer did.

By this time, the kitten had been wending her way in between the officer’s and Dep. Tom’s feet, clearly having no fear of people. So, not feral. Which is good.

But something was wrong. During the scene, when I was able to only briefly look at her, I noticed that something looked odd with one of her eyes. When I was able to pick her up to look more closely and carefully at her, I saw that her left eye was completely glued shut with eye goo, and while her right eye was clear, there was a little blob of eye goo in the corner of it.

She was in good weight – nicely fleshed out, and otherwise quite healthy looking.

So, I was torn: take her home and see to her eye, or trust that the people whose farm she lived on – with whom she has evidently interacted with enough to be quite comfortable with humans – would see to it. But, obviously, they handn’t, as the eye was firmly cemented closed.

I dithered about, and decided to go ahead and take her to find out what I could. Since I am allergic to cats, keeping her was out of the question. I just hated to see her effectively half-blind. And so, I took her home.

The dried gunk was removed with a warm, wet cloth. Her eye orbit looked a little swollen, and it took awhile for her pupils to equally respond to changes in light. Within several hours, though, her eye looked better than ever. By the following morning, it was fine.

There is a feline herpesvirus that affects the eyes such as the way hers was affected, but there were no other signs of herpesvirus infection (which, in kittens and cats, will appear around the nose and in the mouth). Between the heat, and the dust and bits of plant matter being kicked up and blown about by the wind, I think the gunk-closed eye was due to irritation rather than an infection. Her appetite was hearty, her grooming well organized and executed, and she even engaged in some play behavior, though she preferred my hand to the plush toy frog I offered as a replacement for something to gnaw on.

It was with relief--and a touch of regret--that I went back to the skid pan the next day, almost 24 hours after she first introduced herself to me, and returned Deuce Kitty to the border of her farm. If you’d like to see some photos of her from her time with me, check out my Kodak Deuce Kitty album.

Both of the evaluators I worked with in the drunk driving scenarios were quite impressed with my ability to play drunk, and both good natured about the things that went flying in my car when I drove. I’m still unsure if being so good at this is a good thing (other than for the officers who got some good experience dealing with me) or a bad thing (where the hell does all that drunken knowledge come from??).

But I do know this: I do not ever want to be stopped on suspicion of drunk driving. It is no fun being cuffed and searched and inserted into the back of a police car—especially the cars with the rigid molded plastic seats that are made to be easily cleaned of diverse types of bodily fluids and solids.

The law enforcement agencies in the various counties have posters they put out jointly to remind the public to not drive drunk. I like the one from adjacent Marin the best:

Finally, here are the socks I knit, hereinafter known as the Deuce socks:

Pee Ess: This is not the kind of drunk I was.

Pee Pee Ess: While the tone of my Deuce Kitty blog entry may be light, driving drunk--or "merely" impaired--is not. A recent article in the local newspaper gives an idea of what one can expect if arrested for driving under the influence of legal or illegal substances: Anatomy of a DUI.


Blogger مارية said...

Horsies! Pretty horsies!

Ha ha that made me laugh...

1:17 PM  

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