Thursday, March 4, 2010

Almost Arrested... For Praying!

For a few minutes I thought I was living behind the iron curtain, or maybe in some third-world country. I found myself on the verge of being arrested… for praying!

It was the year 2000 and I was in Phoenix to install a computer system for a client. I was there alone for several days, and so, as a guy is apt to do when he is staring at the four walls of a hotel room, I headed out to see what the City of Phoenix had to offer.

I stumbled across a sports bar type restaurant with a few cars around it, and ventured in for a bite to eat. Now, even back in my ‘wild’ days I wasn’t much of a drinker of adult beverages. In fact, back when I ran with a crowd that frequented those types of establishments I was always the designated driver. And so I ordered water with my meal. And the second time my glass ran empty I was brought a whole picture.

“Would you consent to take a breathalyzer test?” My alternative was a trip downtown, so I consented…

A couple of hours later the game was over and I was full as a tick on Phoenix tap water (not a drink I’d recommend). I got in my Chevy Blazer to drive back to the room. But, as luck would have it, turning out of the parking lot I bumped the curb. Now, you may be thinking, “What’s so unlucky about bumping a curb?” but what I didn’t tell you is that, while pulling out I was under the watchful eye of two of Phoenix’s finest… on motorcycles! They apparently kept a vigil at this place for inebriated drivers – you know… drunks.

There they were.. those dreaded red lights in my rear view mirrow. And then the question, “Have you been drinking, sir?” “No, sir… I only drank water.” I answered, like I had a faint chance of selling that story… even though it was true!

“You bumped the curb pulling out”, he offered. I tried to explain to them how these Chevy Blazers have a problem with the steering – that the wheel sticks on a sharp turn. But they weren’t buying it. The truth is that an article came out a few days later about that very problem with that very vehicle. Oh, how I wished I’d had that article with me that evening.

These two motorcycle cops were dressed in typical motorcycle cop costumes complete with black leather boots and standard issue cocky attitude. I will admit that one of them feigned politeness. The other chomped on an unlit cigar and didn’t even attempt to be civil. Trust me when I say that of the three of us, he was the one that was drunk… with power!

They put me through the full battery of field sobriety tests. I followed a pen with my eyes, stood on one foot; touched my nose with eyes closed and head tilted, and walked a straight line, all with the flawless perfection of a scared stiff out-of-towner.

“Would you consent to take a breathalyzer test?” Officer Polite Cop asked. My alternative was a trip downtown, so I consented… and blew. While waiting for the results to register I whispered a quick prayer for God’s favor and help in getting out of this jam. And that’s when the wicket got sticky, as it were.

Officer Cigar Chomper noticed my whispering and asked, “What did you say?” “I didn’t say anything”, I responded, but he wouldn’t accept that answer. “I know you said something… what was it!” he demanded. So I swallowed the tiny smidgen of pride I still had left, and told him I was praying. “Good!” he chuckled. “You need it!”

At about the very next moment Officer Polite Cop gasped, “I’ll be Damned!” “What?” asked Officer Cigar Chomper. “Zero Point Zero!” he answered. Then Officer Cigar Chomper said something that just about made me crazy… “You think he’s on drugs?” People… for Pete’s sake I BUMPED A CURB!

As you know, I’m from Oklahoma, and in Oklahoma curb bumping is a mere misdemeanor. I hadn’t read up on the laws in Phoenix, but obviously it’s a much more serious offense there… and apparently I needed to be punished for my lawlessness.

But I’m here to tell you that God still hears our prayers. Officer Polite Cop said, “Naw… he’s just tired and scared.” Then he turned to me, handed me back my license and said, “Drive safely, Mr. Kepler”.

And I did! Believe me, I did!

So next time you’re driving down the avenue and you see a couple of motorcycle cops giving some poor schlep a field sobriety test, do him a favor and whisper a quick prayer for him. But don’t let the cop catch ya!

1 comment:

  1. I had a similar experience a few years back in Chamberlain, South Dakota. The main difference is that I was the only one in the car who hadn't been drinking. I was the designated driver. (The guys I was with loved having a tee-totaller around because no one was bummed about not drinking.)I didn't bump any curbs, I was just seen leaving the main restaurant and watering hole in Chamberlain. I didn't have to do a breathalizer but I did get to submit to several minutes of intense grilling in the warm confines of a police car. It is an odd feeling.