I’m taking you down memory lane on a little trip of teenage stupidity; silly, silly stupidity.
For those not in the ‘know’ a Chinese Fire Drill is where everyone jumps out of the car at the stop light and runs around the car and either gets back in the same spot they were in, or changes positions. The simplified version usually involves exchanging one passenger for the driver.
During the drive home from Who-Song and Larry’s for my 18th birthday party we did not perform a simplified Chinese Fire Drill. The suggestion to perform the drill was proposed by a friend, Lana, “Hey, at one of the lights we hit that’s red, lets do a Chinese Fire Drill.”
“What is a Chinese Fire Drill?” the three of the five of us responded.
She explained it to us three (someone else already knew what it was about), and myself and Jaime agreed Lana’s suggestion sounded like super-fun-times without possible negative side effects. Kim said she’d rather not, and my best friend summarily dismissed the idea as too ‘risky.’
We start hitting all the green lights, as divine providence tried to nudge us off our course, and for the first time having green lights was actually annoying. As we drove back through Hillsboro, Oregon, past the Sunset Esplanade, I was finally able to time the yellow lights. We geared up, Kim held onto the left-overs, Amanda promptly started hiding her face behind her hair (she’d recently attempted giving up biting her nails for graduation) and the two girls in the back and I got pumped as I slowed our vehicle down to catch a red light.
WHEEEEE!!!!! Only our little plan was already off to a poor start. My friend Jaime was right in front of me and she slipped and dropped her eye-glasses case (why was she carrying it?) and was all sprawled out groping for it. I had to hurdle her, still waiving my arms and cackling. By the time I got to the passenger side door I looked up and the light had already turned green.
Oh, No! I quit waiving my arms like a lunatic and finish hauling ass around the front of my car. Meanwhile Lana is already back in the car, we’re yelling at Jaime to get in who finally retrieved her eye-glasses case and had to leap like superman across the back seat while they slammed the door closed, and I finally got back in behind the wheel of the car.
I can’t make the car go! Why can’t the car go forward?!
Did I mention I had pulled the e-brake when I had put the car in park out of habit? No?
Then the lights started…Those bright red and blue lights….
Turns out our little intrepid 3/5 group had performed our Chinese Fire Drill right in front of a cop who was one car back and in the other lane.
Someone mentions it’s the e-brake, I get that disengaged and pull over to the side of the street. The cop marches up and demands my information, and I’m scrounging for my proof of insurance and registration. Only my mother is the type of person who keeps every damn piece of paper like some sort of federal archive in the glove box and I couldn’t find the most current insurance card. The cop is escalating the volume in his voice at me to get the paper work (he can see I’m thumbing through it in my lap) and I finally shove the closest sheet I can find in his hand and squeak out, “I don’t know if that’s the most current one…” He’s already marched back to his cruiser.
Lana, meanwhile, is spitting venom because she has a bad driving record. Jaime is chortling, “My Daddy’s a Firefighter, I’m not going to get in trouble.” Kim is bemused, “I was holding the food, I’m not a part of this.” And my best friend, Amanda, is literally crying, “I’m 18, I”m going to be tried as an adult! I’m not going to get into college, my parents can’t afford bail, they can’t afford a lawyer, I’m going to be tried as an adult!”
I suddenly channel Pacino and go mobster, “Shut Up! You’re not going down for this. No one is going down for this. I’m the driver, it was my responsibility. NO. ONE. IS. GOING. DOWN!”
Now the officer that pulled us over is back and demanding we get out of the car and line up on the curb. There’s another cruiser on the scene now and another cop standing in front of the car, with (no joke) a fully bloomed fu-manchu mustache wearing Steve McQueen aviator sunglasses on at 9 o’clock at night. Jaime quips from the back, “What!? They called back-up? Did they think we’re going to bolt?!”
We five girls line up on the side-walk, some of us swearing, some of us stifling giggles, and one of us crying. The officer proceeds to lecture us while pacing back and forth like one of those disappointed drill-sergeants with the crack-pot unit. I don’t remember a lot of the conversation, because as it turned out this guy was hot.. It wasn’t just the body armor that was giving him Mr. Triangle torso with the proper dimensions, he had a gggrrrrrreat ass.
There was no shame; Officer Fu-Manchu was still standing off to the side and he darn well could see where our eyes roamed while the lecturing Officer Hotness gave us a piece of his mind and a view of his butt as he paced. The only thing I remember about the whole lecture is at some point he asked us what the hell we were thinking pulling a Chinese Fire Drill right in front of a cop, to which we all chorused back, “Well, we didn’t know you were there, duh.” And, something else about scrapping kids like us off the pavement with a spatula. That’s it, that’s all I remember.
At 34 now I have never performed another Chinese Fire Drill again, so I guess I learned my lesson. Thanks Officer Cutie-Pie with the Hillsboro Police Department, mission accomplished.
From Chuck Shepherd’s News of the Weird:
In the past three years, at least 39 drivers in Dallas have been ticketed by police officers for the “offense” of being “a non-English speaking driver,” according to a Dallas Morning News investigation in October. The software for officers’ in-car computers features a check-off box with the phrase, perhaps leading officers (and their sergeants) to believe it constituted a separate traffic offense rather than merely an indication that the motorist might not have understood an officer’s instructions. The police chief expressed shock at the report and promised to end the practice. [Dallas Morning News, 10-23-09]
U.S. Homeland Security officials confirmed in October that an estimated 200,000 temporarily admitted foreign visitors to the U.S. since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are still in the country illegally, with overstayed visas, and that there is still no system in place to catch them. The problem had surfaced in September when a 19-year-old Jordanian man (legally admitted on a since-expired tourist visa) was arrested and accused of plotting to blow up a Dallas skyscraper. He had been arrested two weeks before that on a traffic violation, and even though he was on an FBI watch list because of visits to a jihadist Web site, he had no immigration “record” and thus was released after paying the traffic fine. [New York Times, 10-12-09]
Twenty-two-year-old Devin Grant survived virtual target practice by three Atlanta police officers on Dec. 14, catching 16 bullets in the neck, back, arms and leg, with 24 separate wounds, but was out of the hospital seven days later. One bullet severed an artery, but Grant’s muscularity slowed the release of blood, allowing him to remain alive until he could be treated. (He went immediately from hospital to jail, however; the shots were fired after Grant allegedly pointed a gun at officers following a 20-mile automobile chase, which started, police said, when Grant attempted to evade an arrest warrant for a traffic violation.) [Atlanta Journal Constitution, 12-22-00, 12-28-00]
When police in Brimfield, Ohio, stopped Jaime Aguirre, 42, for a traffic violation in October, they found some conventional photos of nude and near-nude women, but were especially surprised at a stash of x-rays and mammograms, which they supposed came from Aguirre’s job as technician at an imaging center in Tiffin, Ohio. The Brimfield police chief said he believed the stash was used by Aguirre for sexual gratification, and since some of the x-rays and mammograms were of girls under the age of 18, Aguirre was charged with possession of child pornography. [Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 10-27-09]
In March 1991, Florence Schreiber Powers, 44, a Ewing, N.J., administrative law judge on trial for shoplifting two watches, called her psychiatrist to testify that Powers was under stress at the time of the incidents. The doctor said Powers did not know what she was doing “from one minute to the next,” for the following reasons: recent auto accident, traffic ticket, new-car purchase, overwork, husband’s kidney stones, husband’s asthma (and noisy breathing machine in their bedroom), menopausal hot flashes, “ungodly” vaginal itch, bad rash, fear of breast and anal cancer, fear of dental surgery, son’s asthma, mother’s and aunt’s illnesses, need to organize parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, need to cook Thanksgiving dinner for 20 relatives, purchase of 200 gifts for Christmas and Hanukkah, attempt to sell her house without a broker, lawsuit against wallpaper cleaners, need to return newly purchased furniture, and toilet constantly running. (Nonetheless, she was convicted.) [Trentonian, 3-27-91]
A traffic officer in eastern Ontario, who ticketed a speeding motorist from Switzerland in September, said the driver blamed it on the lack of goats. He told the officer that he felt liberated to drive fast because, unlike in his country, there were no goats wandering onto the highway. Also, authorities in the Nigerian village of Isseluku arrested a man for killing his brother in September, but the man insisted that he had only tried to move a goat from his farm but that when it wouldn’t move, he hit it with an ax, at which point it turned into his brother (according to an Associated Press report). [BBC News-AFP, 9-7-06] [South Florida Sun-Sentinel-AP, 9-17-06]
In September, when a squad car in Houston signaled Richard Ramos, 35, to pull over, he sped away, having heard in the news of the police department’s new, no-chase policy for minor traffic violations. However, the pursuing officers were actually Harris County sheriff’s deputies, who are free to chase, and they quickly caught him. Also in September, Houstonian Michael Kubosh deliberately ran a red light in a traffic-camera intersection for the purpose of challenging the system in court, but two Houston police officers personally witnessed the violation and wrote him a regular ticket (which overrides the camera’s $75 violation with a ticket of up to $200). [Houston Chronicle, 9-6-06] [Houston Chronicle, 9-17-06]
A 2009 Minnesota law gives local police the authority to make traffic stops to enforce the stand-alone offense of failure of a passenger to wear a seat belt. According to a report in the Pioneer Press, police in the St. Paul suburb of Maplewood take it seriously. An undercover cop, posing as a homeless man with a “will work for food” sign, roamed an intersection, peering into cars and secretly signaling colleagues, who subsequently pulled over violators, and all unbelted passengers were issued $108 tickets: $25 for the violation, $75 for a brand-new “surcharge” for petty misdemeanors, and an $8 general state fee (none of which, according to the legislative history, represented a “tax increase”). [Pioneer Press, 2-25-10]
Judges in Springfield, Ill., twice failed to order jail time in November for Jason Holman, 27, for the two latest of his 185 traffic tickets, opting merely for what amounted to probation. Also, after a Jacksonville, Ill., judge, in September, gave Oscar Cushionberry, 49, three years in jail for a probation violation, the prosecutor praised the judge for finally sending Cushionberry “a message that, at some point in time, you run out of options,” that one only gets “so many chances at probation.” In the past 10 years, Cushionberry has 93 arrests and 29 convictions (including some felonies). [Springfield Journal-Review, 11-9-05] [Jacksonville Journal-Courier, 9-21-05]
A 23-year-old woman and her 27-year-old companion were accidentally run over and killed, apparently while standing in a far left lane of Interstate 10, arguing (Ocean Springs, Miss., June). Also, a 46-year-old man, breaking through a bedroom window in the home of his estranged wife in violation of a restraining order, accidentally slashed an artery and bled to death (Milwaukee, June). And then, a 51-year-old man, trying to drive around a traffic jam on Interstate 10 as he was fleeing a gas station where he had just pumped $60 worth of gas without paying, fatally struck another car (with only minor injuries to the other driver) (Welsh, La., June). [Biloxi Sun Herald, 6-27-06] [WLS-TV (Chicago)-AP, 6-17-06] [Baton Rouge Advocate, 6-22-06]
As a result of a 2003 traffic stop in Ohio, Catherine Donkers was convicted of a child-seat-restraint violation (specifically, holding her baby in her lap for breast-feeding while driving), but she appealed, and in April 2007, a court ruled in her favor. The story made News of the Weird in 2003 because Donkers’ husband, Brad Barnhill, who was not in the car, demanded that he be charged instead because his First Christian Fellowship for Eternal Sovereignty religion teaches that the husband must take responsibility for all of his wife’s public actions (especially when the “public action” involves “the Beast,” which is what the religion calls “government”). [Akron Beacon Journal, 4-4-07]
A 2010 Chicago Tribune public-records examination of suburban Chicago traffic-stop drug searches found that sniffer dogs are usually wrong — that 56 percent of all “positive” signals by dogs yielded no contraband (73 percent failure if the driver was Hispanic). [Chicago Tribune, 1-5-2011]
I hope you all have a safe and happy weekend!