Saturday, May 8, 2010

Michigan State Police

Last night (Friday, May 7th 2010) Main Lady was going to drive to the Detroit Metro airport and pick up two out of the three little darlings who were flying in to celebrate Mother's Day.  Flopsy and Mopsy were planning on being in Sylvania, while Cottontail would spend Mother's Day with her other half in the Twin Cities.  I advised Main Lady that my services as official driver were available if she needed them, and she gracefully declined.  Main Lady would be taking her mother along for the ride and there wasn't room.  I was somewhat relieved, as my ideology is not a good fit to theirs, me being male and therefore somewhat unrefined. I'm given to understand that none of these lovelies hold this against me, but treat me like some dear friend's retarded younger brother; "Just bear with him.  He can't help himself, you know."  Which, frankly, is fine with me as the general atmosphere remains tranquil that way.

So I find a combination dinner, which is half healthy (chicken breast salad made with Romaine lettuce and other good things, humus, whole wheat bread, water) and half not (red hot buffalo wings, whiskey).  I anticipate a nice evening spent alone watching Rome, Season Two and getting nicely, quietly drunk in the privacy of my own home.  Then the phone rings.  Main Lady has reevaluated her marginal utilities and decided to avail herself of my offer to drive her.  Her mother is staying at home.  What can I do?  I put everything away and promise myself I'll watch one episode of Rome later on tonight and I hit the road.

Flopsy is supposed to be on the ground at 6:30 PM, and Mopsy follows at 8:30 PM.  We pull out around 7:30, fuel up the car and I point my nose North on US 23.  The weather, in a word, sucks.  We hit one rain squall after another, but by the time we get to DTW the weather is clearing up.  Of course Mopsy's plane is late, so I play the park and orbit game.

For those of you who haven't been to the Detroit Metro Airport since the advent of the TSA, I advise you to stay away if possible.  Traffic is unwelcome and regulations prohibit stopping or standing for any length of time.  The fat TSA traffic cops waddle among four lanes of cars, arrogantly ordering drivers to move along.  Cars circle the airport, making their way back to the arrival gate, only to be ordered to move again.  Black SUVs with the official TSA logo emblazoned on the door panels and light bars bolted to the roof patrol constantly, keeping traffic moving.  As flights arrive traffic backs up and is ordered to move, no exceptions.  On Main Lady's suggestion I drive to the departures gate where, as it turns out, we can wait for Mopsy undisturbed.

We try calling Mopsy with no luck, and I discover my cell phone won't work.  Neither will Main Lady's. The towers and/or servers at Sprint are overloaded.  Fortunately for us all Flopsy has Cingular service which works nicely, and around 9:15 PM Mopsy is in the car relating her experience with the TSA.  Mopsy brought two glass bookends, a package of tea, another of coffee and several books in her carry on luggage.  The TSA went bat shit over the glass bookends and there was a delay.  Try explaining why you might want to carry bookends in your luggage to a chimpanzee and you'll have a rough idea of the conversation.  Main Lady and the two little darlings find the situation hilarious.  I find it disturbing in a sinister way I can't quite articulate.

I head West on I-94 and hook with US 23 South.  Along the way we stop for dinner at the Harvest Moon Cafe (5484 West Michigan Avenue, Ypsilanti, MI 48197-9213, (734) 434-8100) which I rate as a 7.5, on a scale of zero to 10.  If they turned the decor up a notch they'd have a solid 8 or 8.5.  My hunger assuaged I continue South on US 23.  The weather is better and the traffic is light.  That's when we see the semi.

I can't remember the license number or the name of the truck line, which was written on the back of the trailer.  I can remember the truck weaving from line to line, which Mopsy commented on.  I'm doing 70 and I ease off a little, hanging back and watching.  This clown in the semi gets half off the road onto the berm, then over corrects and veers into the left lane.  "Oh, he's drunk!  What should we do?" Flopsy is agitated.  I'm wondering how safe it would be to pass him and conclude that I'm better off where I am, ready to panic stop should the semi driver lose it.

"Well," I say, "I suppose we could do our civic duty and call the police."

"Do you think they'll do anything?" Flopsy wants to know.

"Yeah, they'll pick him up for drunk driving." Mopsy replies.

"Oh yeah, they'll do something." I'm somewhat pessimistic.  US 23 is a long highway and this is one semi out of many.  Then your particular emergency has to go through the dispatch system... well, it's a long walk from Mad Jack to a Michigan State Trooper.  I don't voice my concerns.

"Ok, Flopsy, you call it in." Mopsy decides.  A cell phone is located and Flopsy connects to nine one one, then can't explain the situation.  I choke back a somewhat pithy comment.

"Hi, nine one one?  This is Flopsy and I'm in a car, well it's not my car, it's mommy's, no wait, we're in Grandma's car, and there's this guy driving a truck - no, I don't know, I'm just trying to report - um, well, I think we're in Michigan..."  On reflection, I feel sorry for the 911 dispatch operator.  Main Lady takes over.

"Hello, this is Main Lady.  We're at exit seven on South US 23 and there is a drunk driving a semi ahead of us.  He's weaving from side to side and driving on the berm.  No, I can't see his license number."

At this point I check the mirrors and the left lane, then I change lanes and accelerate to reading distance.  Main Lady reads the license number off the trailer along with the State.  She also reads the name of the trucking company emblazoned on the back of the trailer, then she gets dropped.

"What did nine-eleven say?"  I ask, falling back to a safe distance.

"She said she'd put it out there.  She also said to stay away from him."  Main Lady replies.

"No problem."  I say, easing back another hundred feet or so.  The driver continues to weave.

"I bet they don't do anything."  Flopsy says.  "They probably don't care."

"Well, it's a big highway.  They have to find this guy and that isn't easy."  I try to put some optimism 'out there'.  What does she mean by, "I'll put it out there" anyway?

"I think they'll look for him." Mopsy is the eternal optimist.  "Maybe they'll find him."

We drive for another few minutes and pass mile marker three.  The discussion in the car is not optimistic, as the drunk will be Ohio's problem in another minute or so.  Then an SUV comes up on me and I see that the driver has the hammer down.  When he passes we can all see the light bar, whip antennas and the big Michigan Highway Patrol logo on the side.

"Look!  There they are!" Flopsy is happy, as are we all.

While the Trooper was coming up on me the semi changed lanes into the left lane, intending to pass the truck in front of him.  The trooper comes up on the semi and tailgates at about 10 to 15 feet, and he stays there for what seems like forever.  I suspect he's reading the plate and calling it in.  Just about the time we think that nothing's going to happen, the trooper activates his light bar.  It's real pretty from where I sit.  The truck doesn't stop.

"Why isn't he stopping?"  Mopsy wants to know.

"Give it time." I say.  "The driver is trying to pretend the police are after someone else."  It turns out I'm telling the truth, as the semi switches back to the right lane, then when the Michigan State Police refuse to go bother someone else, the driver pulls off onto the berm.

Cheers erupt from our car.

"Well, it's for his own safety." Flopsy opines, feeling some sympathy for the driver.

"I don't care about his safety.  I care about mine." I have no sympathy for the driver.  "That guy is either drunk or too tired to drive, and he could have killed someone."

"Yeah.  Maybe this will wake him up." Mopsy says.

With any luck he'll pass out and wake up in a cell, and having screwed up once too often he'll lose his professional driver's license.

My thanks to the Michigan State Police, and particularly to the dispatcher who fielded our call, and to the State Trooper who pulled over a semi on Friday, May 7, 2010 around 11:00 PM who was headed South on US 23 about 2 miles North of the Ohio border.


Older School said...

I must say, nice work all around. You'd be surprised at the number of people who call to report drunk drivers, but don't have enough info to pursue it.
You were lucky that you were in a position that you could give plate numbers, descriptions, and direction of travel. Some people try, but without those primary things, it's a lost cause. Remember, we want to get drunk drivers off the road too.

Mad Jack said...

Thanks, Older School. I was trying not to laugh when I listened to Flopsy talking to the dispatcher - I cannot for the life of me imagine what went through the dispatcher's mind when Flopsy said she didn't know where we were, but she thought we were in Michigan.

We wanted to honk and wave at the State Patrol car, but I nixed the idea. Instead I emailed the Michigan State Police, cited the date, time and location and thanked them for their service. They wrote back a few weeks later and told me that they'd passed my thanks along to the officer. Nice, huh?

I don't do well with drunks. They tend to be sloppy and belligerent. If someone has one too many and his friends are taking him home, that's one thing. The man who has six too many is hammered. There's nobody home behind his eyes, and he's just as likely to get in a fight with his friends (who are trying to help him) as a total stranger who just wants to walk past him in the parking lot. Meanwhile, he's a liability.

To any police reading this, thanks for busting drunks.