The overwhelming majority of people on the Interstate have some degree of respect for blue flashing lights. Most are fearful of speeding tickets, some are fearful of getting their breath tested, some are illegal in some other way, and some are just respectful. Others not so much, and those are the ones who will stay close to the line when they pass near a law enforcement car running interference for construction. We do not find this amusing. The neat thing is when you listen to a cop call another cop camped out down the road, and then you get to hop in your truck and go see the stop. Plead your case if you want, but with dash cams, you are pretty much screwed. Georgia has a “get over” law which means you cannot pass within inches of cop car alongside the road and it be legal.
The cops we work with are ordinary everyday type guys and I have yet to meet one with an attitude problem. Some are less friendly than others, but they aren’t getting paid to socialize. After midnight things slow down, but that’s when you get people too drunk to stand up driving around, and then none of the cops are friendly. Cops dislike drunk drivers nearly as much as road workers do and we hate them. They cause more problems for us than any other class of people other than those texting lol.
We’re discussing this, a pair of cops and myself, and in the case at hand a woman went through all sorts of construction signs and traffic control devices and scattered an asphalt crew like a covey of quail. She pulled up behind the asphalt spreader and asked one of the workers if the road was closed. The deputy on the scene was more than happy to escort her off the site, and to a secure location where the blood in her alcohol might be checked. The degree of impairment in this woman’s actions was astounding. Between the three of us we have over fifty years of experience on the road, and this one caught us all off guard. We’re near Exit Eleven where the truck stops are, and as we speak one of the deputies stops talking and moves away from this small group and the other moves instantly, too. It’s like when one of the dogs sees or hears something and the other dogs sense something has changed. The reaction is immediate and very similar to what the dogs so. Something unusual is happening, and it’s bad until proven otherwise.
The man is walking down the road, staggering a bit, moving slowly, but he is holding something in his hands that we cannot see. Two flashlights come out and seek out his hands, and the man covers his face at the sudden illumination.
“You’re killing the Crocketts!” the man says loudly, and this of course is our secret pass code that we tell insane people to use when they want us to know they’re crazy. The cops separate by a distance of a few feet, and close in on him, flashlights up, like the dogs carry their tails when they’re moving in on a stranger. I cannot tell what he has in his hand, but it looks like a camera case of some sort. Or a holster.
“You’re killing Columbus and Pizarro” the man says more loudly. “You’re killing Daniel Boone, too.”
I don’t like for crazy people to talk about killing. When on a job site, talking about killing people usually involves drunk people killing workers, or sleepy drivers wiping people out, but rarely does anyone accuse us of killing anyone. One of the cops closes in on the guy, and tells him to put the object down, whatever it is, and turn around. He wants the guy handcuffed until he can figure out what the object is, and why it is. His partner has a taser in his hand, but at his side.
“You want this?” the man demands. “You want this? Go get it.” He tries to throw it deep into the woods on the right of way, but it is a feeble throw, and it lands a few feet away. The cop puts him in cuffs, and the other goes to find the object. It is a camera case, but it’s full of trash. For some reason there is candy wrappers, bottle caps from water bottles, and pieces of lead from car tires. The cop asks him who he is, and why he’s walking along the Interstate which technically, is illegal.
“You’re killing the explorers.” And he’s looking at me when he says this. “All the animals that want to go out and see what the world looks like, they get killed by cars, and those who are timid live to breed, so we kill off those who want to go places, and only the stay at home types get to have kids. The adventurers are dying and you’re killing them. They want to find the New World, and all we can do is smash them.”
The cop takes the cuffs off the man and tells him to get of the Interstate, but the man gets belligerent. He tells them they are illegally there and he ought to take them both in. I think back on my days when I was a professional drinker, and even thought most of the memories aren’t very clear, the number of times someone either drunk and or crazy arrested two cops is an exceedingly low number approaching zero. Now, those who might have tried to do so may actually be higher than those who tried it and succeeded but it’s still a low number, both ways. The man reaches into his pocket, and bad, very bad things, are going to happen very, very, fast.
The man pulls out a paper match, and holds it in front of him, as if it’s a knife.
The cop handles it very well. He asks the man to put the paper match away, and to tone it down. He doesn’t threaten the man, and in the end, as the man starts to try to push his way past the cop, the two cops just cuff him again, and put him in the back of the car, and take him away.
I go over and get the paper match. It feels weird in my hand, like it is as close as I will ever be, to that form of insanity.