The place was The McGrath Highway in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the time was right when video cameras were first installed onto police cars. During the early ’90s, I had been stopped by a Boston MDC police officer around 4 am.
I was with two Harvard Square characters and we had gone to Boston’s China Town after the Cambridge clubs closed. I was driving them home after Chinese food. The guys with me were tatermedalion and hippy-like. I was well-dressed, feeling and lookin’ sharp. We were all pretty happy after a good night out on the town.
It might have been the manner of appearance of my passengers that inspired the MDC police officer to ask, after he pulled us over and shined his light on everyone, “Do I smell an odor of alcohol?” My reply was, “Yes, officer I’m sure you do. But I assure you you’re smelling collective breath — it isn’t only mine.”
After questions about where we’d been and where we were going, I next discover I’m doing — and surviving — the ABC and follow-the-moving-finger tests. I think having a Harvard Square transcription business helped me to easily pass my ABC test.
Next up was the foot walk segment for ‘checkin’ me out!’
So I get out of the car and he leads me in between our two vehicles. Once safely positioned and knowing there was a camera, I created an arbitrary start point and began walking several in-line steps, without his urging or instruction — this, while wearing expensive cowboy boots.
After a few steps he said, “Stop!” Standing securely on one foot, I turned, looked at him and said, “Huh?” He said “You’re not doing it right.” So I then walked in-line backwards to the starting line I had created.
When I got back to the start line, I said, “How about this?” and began walking on cowboy boot tiptoes, one foot in front of the other. Again, he said, “Stop!” For a second time, I walked in-line backwards to the start point.
The officer, clearly not amused at my dance-steps, still nicely said, “Listen. This is what you’ve gotta do. You have to take 10 steps.” He then explained how I had to put the heel of one foot in front of the toe of the other foot, and he demonstrated exactly how to do it. Silently, I mused how cool it was I managed to get the cop to walk the line for me — lol!
When he finished, I immediately did my 10 steps exactly as described. Again, I spun on one foot and with a very bright smile quipped, “How was that?” He said, “Very good. You can get back in the car.”
As much as my transcription business helped me with my ABC’s, being a former hockey player and a daily rollerblader came in very handy when it came time to walkin’ the line.
But the best part? I survived a night of Irish Pub Guinness … and it was all on video! Wish I had a copy!
After then doing the wait-wait in the car, he eventually came back, after doing his identity checks and whatnot, handed me my paperwork and informed me the reason I stopped was my 20-Day Temporary Plate (new car) was taped to my back window, rather than where the license plate should go. I thanked him for his concern.
He then said, “You’re free to go!”
We wuz off … and my 1975 green Dodge Dart, with a slant-six engine, recently bought at my friend’s junk yard in Portsmouth NH survived its first test in Massachusetts — tow-free!
Moral of the story? Drive well, always be polite, keep a good attitude and try to always appropriately show good humor.