Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Birfday Sobriety Test (part 1)

Working on my birthday was my way of saying, "thank you" to my coworkers.  By not messing with the schedule, I am allowing the other cooks to have days off when they want.  After eight hours of cooking, I grabbed a few beers with some of the servers.

It had to end early to attend my birthday party with the Long Beach Fam and the Straight Jackit tour. After having a few rounds, with very little to eat, jumping in my car to head to long beach was a bad idea.  When I got on the highway to get in the farthest left lane (the fast lane) I realized I was making the mistake of getting into the carpool lane, I swerved out.  It would have been okay if I was sober, but, I was clearly not.  Red and blue lights played disco in my rear view mirror.  I couldn't believe I was going to go to jail on my birthday.

In California Driving Under the Influence is a serious crime.  Depending on a person's Body Mass Index it can take only one beer to score a .08 on a breathalyzer, which is the legal limit of being under the influence.  If caught, the drunk's car will be impounded, a night spent in jail, insurance fees will either sky-rocket or be terminated, and lawyer fees that range from $10,000 - $20,000 just to reduce the excessive consequences that a judge is eager to hand out. 

I exited the highway.  Before the officer came to my car, I had i.d. in hand and was having difficulty finding my Insurance card.  He asked, "Have you had anything to drink?"
"Yes, I did. One." I answered confidently, looking him in the eye to see what type of reaction he was going to have.
He then proceeded to give me the 'follow my pen' test.  I followed the tip of the pen. Slowly moving left.  Then the pen was slowly moved right.  Then quickly to the left.  He was trying to lose me, but, I stayed on him like a cat ready to pounce on a mouse.  I was anticipating the slow to quick motion.  It made sense.  This simple task would be extremely difficult for a person that was drunk.  It wasn't the tests that I was afraid of, it was the breathalyzer that was sending me to jail.

"Alright really how many have you had to drink?"  said the officer. 
"Okay, Officer, I had two beers." I replied.  I'm a terrible liar.
"Could you please step out of the car."
 It was just like the movies, I thought.

I already knew I was going to go to jail, did we have to go through these sobriety tests? I know for a fact that I can pass all of these tests, drunk or not.  Just give me the breathalyzer and take me to jail.

He began to ask more detailed questions;  "How long have you been drinking tonight?, Where's the party?, Have you had anything to eat?,  How drunk are you?"

I only had chips and salsa at the bar with my drinks.  Nothing substantial to soak up the alcohol.  It was about 3 hours of drinking.  I described to him that I know what drunk feels like.  I know what Buzzed is.  That evening I was feeling "slightly".

At this point two other officers came to join.  They saw my i.d. and asked, "Where's the party?"  I'm sure he realized it was my birthday.  I told him that "I was on my way home.  Some of my coworkers thought we could have a few drinks, but, I didn't want to do much on my birthday."  I felt that "home" described going to an alternate home, Kruise's, to safely drink since I was going to sleep there to avoid actually driving drunk.

The officer even took the precaution to ask if I had any physical ailments to make sure that this test accommodated me.  I still wanted to pass up all of the bullshit.  Just take me to jail already.

My adrenaline kicked.  Survival of the fittest came to mind.  I would not allow myself to fail the physical test and miss my birthday party.  If I was going down, I might as well go out knowing I gave it my best. 

The three physical tests began.  The first one was to lift my left leg up and count by 1,000's.  For example, one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, etc.  I held it up for thirty one thousands.  Halfway into counting, I asked to make sure if my foot was held up high enough.  I wanted to know if I needed to point my toe more.  He smiled at me.  I made him laugh.  There was no playing around.  I wanted to make sure that I was performing his tests to his likings.

The second tests was to take nine steps with feet directly in front of each other, heal to toe.  I was to then pivot after 9 steps and take nine more steps back.  I counted out loud.  Pretended I was walking on a rail.  Something I have done numerous amounts of times in my life.  Bored waiting for someone else to get the clip.

His final test was to lean my head back with my eyes closed.  At his cue, I was to make notice of when I believed thirty seconds had passed.  I wasn't tired.  It was my birthday.  I wanted to go to my party.  I leaned my head back and pretended to see a watch with the seconds ticking softly but sharp.  I gave him my 30 second indication.

These tests were easy, I thought.  Finally came the part I was waiting for, the Breathalyzer.  I blew.  It took a few minutes for the machine to give an answer.  While waiting I had to take another follow my pen trick from another cop.  Then came the second blow.  I was instructed to wait in my car for further instructions.

I sat there for a few minutes.  Began to collect my belongings on what I was going to take to jail.  Choked up, that I was going to to be locked and I should have listened to all of the advice I had received from friends that warned me about these moments.

The officer returned to my car.  I asked him, "So am I going home with you tonight?" in a flirtatious heterosexual tone.
"You're going home...
But, not with me."  He responded.
"I can go home?"
"I want you to go somewhere for an hour and drink some coffee."
"What did I blow?"
"Thank you officer.  Have a wonderful evening."
I drove away.