I was doing seventy-two mph one morning, southbound on the 101 in Ventura County, when a small economy car came floating past me. The driver had both bare feet on the dash and was steering with her knees while she used the rear view mirror to apply eye make-up. I guess you could call that a story of the about to be blind being allowed to drive by the evidently blind California DMV. But a similar ‘feat’ landed Martin Veens, from Holland, in dutch while driving down the A55 in Wales, England this past summer. Police had received reports of a 40 ton truck driving “erratically” (meaning weaving) and a helicopter even caught it on video straddling lanes on the “dual carriageway” (meaning freeway). When they pulled him over police found Martin holding a saucepan in his left hand, a fork in his right, and he admitted he had been steering with his knees. Since he also admitted in court that it had been an “outstandingly stupid thing to do” the judge went easy on Martin. He was sentenced to a year in “goal” (jail), had his “permit banned” (license revoked), and before he is allowed to drive trucks again he must take an “extended examination” (bullshit).
In Abbotsford, Wisconsin, 43 year old Harvey Miller decided that after a night of drinking at a local bar he was too loaded to drive his pick-up truck home. So he enlisted the help of his friend, 48 year old Ed Marzinske. And when they were pulled over by the cops Harvey argued that because he was just steering while Ed operated the gas and brake pedals, he wasn’t technically “driving” the truck. But the cops arrested both men for DUI noting that, one, they were both technically “driving” the truck, two, they were both drunk, three, neither man had a current valid license, four, this was Harvey’s third DUI arrest and Ed’s second, and five, Harvey has no legs. Well, at least they weren’t “blind drunk”.
That fete was accomplished by an unnamed 20 year old in Tartu, Estonia, early on a Sunday morning. Cops pulled him over for weaving and then noticed that he kept missing the tube on the breathalyzer, at which point his 16 year old unlicensed passenger (who was also drunk) admitted she had been providing him with directions. The 16 year old was released to her parents. The 20 year old was arrested. Still you have to figure he got off lightly when compared with all that Floyd P. Sincerbeaux, of Lyons, New York, was charged with; felony driving while intoxicated, misdemeanor first degree unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, operating an unregistered motor vehicle, operating an unlicensed and operating an uninsured motor vehicle. The vehicle in question was a cub cadet riding lawnmower. Floyd was released on $2,500 cash bail. I guess he gave the cops an attitude, because 41 year old Chris Guerrero, who was also riding his lawnmower home while drunk, was only charged with driving with a blood alcohol level above 0.08. Chris was even allowed to drive his mower home, followed by the ticketing officer. The difference must be that Chris didn’t give the arresting officer attitude…and he is a Sacramento Sheriff’s Sergeant assigned to the Sacramento County Jail
Attitude is often an important factor in determining whether a driver gets a traffic ticket or not, something clearly on the mind of a Moscow driver who this September ran into some roadwork, which damaged his Mercedes. So far it was simply a story of the collision between capitalism and the workers’ paradise, but when these particular workers refused to compensate this particular capitalist on the spot for the damage to his car, the driver, described only as a short man in his late twenties, pulled a pistol and shot dead one construction crewman and wounded a second. Since he didn’t stick around to finish off his second victim I guess that would make the still-at-large shooter a compassionate conservative.
Time, and overusage, appears to have stripped the definition of both conservative and compassionate of their traditional meanings, as articulated by Indiana State Trooper Al Martinez, who pulled over a Chicago man just trying to get home to his Mommy. A mere ten miles short of the Ohio line Al pulled over an SUV, after receiving calls from several truckers about the eastbound vehicle on the Indiana Toll Road (I-90). Al found the driver naked, with a Tee shirt thrown over his crotch and his hands coated with what appeared to be petroleum jelly. The driver insisted he was on his way to visit his mother in the Buckeye state, but the heartless cop charged the Momma’s boy with lewd conduct. Evidently the driver had handled his sport utility safely as he was not charged with any moiving offenses.
Would that the same were true for the Jeff Kendell, who was stopped while driving the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile, a 27 foot long, 11 foot tall, hot dog and bun shaped vehicle bearing the vanity license plate “Y-U-M-M-Y”. It seems that when Tucson, Arizona highway patrol officer Korey Lankow ran that plate on his computer, YUMMY came back as stolen. Ever vigilant and concerned that some terrorist might be trying to sneak a WMD into the country disguised as a giant wiener, Officer Lankow called for backup and pulled the wiener over. Wiener driver Jeff explained to the three officers who responded to the call for assistance with a giant weiner, that the plates had been stolen in Missouri last February and immediately replaced by the company. The alert on the stolen plates was supposed to carry the notation that if the plates were found on the actual giant wienermobile it was to be ignored, but somehow that notation never made it into the APB, which just proves why we need a Department of Homeland Security, to monopolize those kinds of screw ups in one place, rather than letting them be made by police departments all across the country.
You might think that the solution to the problem of HBW – humans behind the wheel – would be modern technology, but you would be wrong, considering the determination and perseverance of humans. The classic proof of this "never-say-die" and "never-say-wait-a-minute-let’s-think-about-this" tendency of humans must be the story of Paula Ceely, a 20 year old student at Birmingham Collage who in February of this year decided to visit her boyfriend in the tiny Welsh village of Hebron, Carmarthenshire. And, since she had never been there before, Paula borrowed his SatNav unit, which is EuroSpeak for the Global Positioning System.
Speaking of the SatNav unit Paula said later, “I just followed the directions it was giving me”, which might well be the epitaph for future generations of humans. But as darkness and a blinding rain closed in on this night Paula dutifully followed the SatNav down a lonely and dark country lane, which ended at a white farm gate. At first she thought she had been directed to a dead end, but according to the SatNav this was the correct address. So Paula climbed out into the downpour, swung the gate open wide, drove through, and then stopped again and thoughtfully closed the gate behind her. Then to her surprise she noticed a second gate, so she pushed it open as well. And it was at this moment that Paula heard the approaching train.
It was the 8 pm express headed for Swansea, going 60 mph and Paula had just parked her car across its tracks. She had time to think about leaping into her car and driving it to safety, but luckily before she could try the several hundred ton express smashed into her Renault Clio, slicing off the engine block and sending the broken hulk spinning half a mile down the track as if it had been kicked by a pissed off King Kong. Paula said later, 'The crossing wasn't shown…there were no signs at all and it wasn't lit up to warn of an oncoming train.”
Well, true, but there six signs at the crossing, including the instructions “STOP”, and “Phone Before Crossing”, which appeared on two separate signs. But, I guess Paula was expecting her borrowed SatNav unit to scream in an alarmed voice, “Paula, what the hell are you doing? There’s a train coming! Get the hell out of the way!”
And until some human invents something that does that, we humans are going to be on our own, God help us.
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