Red Card Roberts
June 18, 2013
I don’t title my columns. Mostly because, after I’ve finished writing, I often wonder what exactly it was I tried to convey. So my editor kindly condenses my ramblings into a few descriptive words that appear at the beginning of this little editorial each week.
But if I did write my own titles, this week’s column would be called: "The time I got pulled over for drinking and driving (but really for speeding) and panicked into reciting the Greek alphabet during the sobriety test because I took Latin — and other lessons — seriously in high school, and I can’t believe people actually are drunk at 8 a.m., and I was just trying to be a good environmental citizen."
See why someone else is in charge of titles?
This all dates back about 20 years to that time in high school when the entire class would be called into the auditorium for a special assembly. As everyone fidgeted in their seats, the lights would dim and the double doors would dramatically swing open and a man in a wheelchair would roll in. A hush would fall over the crowd as he proceeded to testify to the evils of drinking and driving. The story usually went something like, "I was a high school quarterback with a full-ride scholarship to a Division 1 school and, one night, I made a really stupid decision to ride with a friend who had been drinking and ended up paralyzed. But I was the lucky one, because he died."
During these assemblies, I was the student in the front row, hanging on every word, tears running down my cheeks. A few years later the message was reinforced when my collegiate athletic career came to a screeching halt after I was hit by a drunk driver. I suffered critical injuries and almost became that wheelchair-warning guy. A few years after that, I watched my best friend bury her husband and baby, both killed by a drunk driver.
Suffice it to say, I have never gotten behind the wheel intoxicated.
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And in the same way I just assume I will never be suspected of murder, I have always pretty much just assumed I’d never have to take a field sobriety test. Or that it would happen at 8 a.m., on my way to work, at a very busy intersection.
But it did. All because I am the sole ruler of an imaginary kingdom called "Save the Polar Bears and Recycle Everything."
As the ruler of this eco-friendly kingdom, I avoid plastic like intelligent people avoid Fox News. I don’t drink soda, so my aluminum needs are pretty minimal. But glass is a different story. And until I can start getting wine from my tap, there’s really no workable solution for minimizing the glass-bottle-buildup situation at my house.
Living in the city limits, I used to be able to set glass out with my other recyclables every week. But about a year ago, the county took over recycling efforts and the new company doesn’t take glass. So now I collect it and take it to the Recycle Center when the bin gets full. I often announce to neighbors I’m making a trip and collect theirs too.
Which is what I did last week with the intention of taking all the empty beer, vodka, wine, and other bottles consumed on my street, straight to Woodbine Way. I loaded four full bins in my car. But then I couldn’t find my keys. And then the phone rang. And then the dog was barking. And the UPS guy came. And before I knew it, I forgot all about the bins. Festering in my sealed up car, baking in the sun.
By the time I remembered I was supposed to run that errand, it was dark. So I planned to do it the next morning before work. But I hit snooze too many times and was late for a meeting. So instead of going to the Recycle Center, I sped straight to work.
And moments later, blue and red lights flickered behind me.
As I rolled down my window for the approaching officer, I tried to explain why my car smelled like a frat house. But apparently that kind of elaborate cover-up had been tried before and I was told to get out of the car.
This happened on the side of 248. It was 8 a.m. and I was trying to walk a straight line in three-inch heels and a bright yellow dress. I couldn’t have stood out more if a hot air balloon was landing next to me — which one was.
I was told to stand on one foot. I asked if I could take off my shoes because putting all my weight on a heel little thicker than a toothpick seemed like setting myself up for failure. This was not allowed. Which made me exceedingly nervous. I’m certain there have been calmer people in an electric chair.
In my panic, I attempted to negotiate with a trick I considered far more likely to prove my innocence.
"I can recite the entire Greek alphabet to you!" I exclaimed. "Alpha, beta, gamma, delta " He was not amused.
After passing a few more officially sanctioned tests, I was able to convince him I didn’t deserve a trip to jail and was free to go.
But not before I came up with a new title for my imaginary kingdom: "It’s Not Just Stupid to Drive Drunk, It’s Really Embarrassing To Be Suspected Of It."
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.