By Bill Fountain
Posted January 9, 2021, 7:26 pm
I rolled up the window as I sat calmly in the driver seat of my Nissan Rogue, gliding down the freeway at a cruise-controlled 65mph. The latest from Five Finger Death Punch was blaring through my speakers and my high was perfect; I serenely took in the traffic surrounding me, accepting that the trek ahead was going to be well over an hour drive.
I felt like I always drive perfectly stoned and today was no exception. There wasn't a chance in Hell I was giving any police officer a reason to pull me over, especially with having just finished up a joint. I didn't have any weed on me but did have a water bottle full of roaches.
It was a beautiful evening- a cool 85 degrees with the purple sunset illuminating the Arizona desert landscape. I kept my eye mindfully on the upcoming traffic congestion as I tapped the brakes gently, noting the tailgating Honda behind me aggressively swerving to and fro apparently in an attempt to peek around me. I was coming up on one of those digital freeway signs that typically display something like a fun Star Wars message about wearing your seat belt. I squinted my eyes at the approaching sign and felt my heart sink when the words were made clear to me:
SILVER NISSAN ROGUE ZA39055
DRIVER EXTREMELY HIGH
What the... Was that a real thing? How did they know I was high? I panicked as I saw clearly in my rear view mirror the hostile man behind me now speaking on a cell phone. Traffic came to a halt, and people around me began eyeing me suspiciously. I tried to appear as sober as I could, hands at 10 and 2, face looking straight toward the road.
Traffic wasn't picking up. A car pulled up right beside me on my left, and I could barely see movement from its passenger seat from the corner of my eye. I did not want to draw attention, but curiously I pretended like the side of my chin was itchy as I shot a quick glance over. Their passenger window was fully open and the guy was on a cell phone. He was motioning a turning crank to me trying to get me to roll down my window. I stared on at the road, keeping my story that I never saw him.
I felt stuck- the damn traffic wasn't picking up. I muted the radio and could hear the muffled conversation on the man in the car next to me.
"Yeah, he's blazed as shit. Broadway and the 303, come pick his ass up."
I turned the radio back on and scanned the traffic for a seeping exit. I needed to get the hell out of here, anywhere as long as I was out of my vehicle. All I saw was no movement as I continued my efforts of remaining calm. My heart was pounding as I took deep breaths, then cursed. I saw the red and blue lights before hearing the siren.
It was a lane-splitting motorcycle cop, and he was coming for me. I took more deep breaths as I braced myself for an upcoming DUI. The cop pulled up right next to my window, and I turned to face him with a look of horror. He was wearing large aviators and chewing gum and shook his head at me before using his index finger to point in the direction in which he wished for my car window to go.
I slowly tapped the window-down button until it was cracked to my satisfaction to which the officer thrust his head back letting out an "ugh!" in sheer disgust.
"Pal- it smells like Lil Wayne's asshole in there. Why don't you step out of the vehicle..." the cop said with nonchalance.
"Uhh, I'm good! Sorry, that's just my air re-freshener. Why'd you pull me over?" I asked with a shaky voice.
"Green alert, pal. You're busted, but if you help me out, I can help you out."
"What do you mean by that?"
"You tell me the truth, do what I say- things will go better for you. I mean not really- you're still gonna get fucked but if you fully cooperate, I can promise you there is a 2% chance I will let you go scot-free. Why don't you go ahead and pull over to the side there."
I could see traffic going at a steadier pace despite the casual and inevitable rubberneckers. I did as the cop asked, moving my Rogue into the rock area next to the freeway with the trailing cop parking behind me.
He walked back up to my cracked window, and said, "Green alert, pal. You've been worrying too much about what people think of you. You live your life assuming people are thinking negative thoughts about you. As a result, you isolate and smoke copious amounts of chronic. Your name is Daniel, right?"
I rolled my window down completely before giving the cop a "Yes, officer."
"Good. Well listen, dipshit- people love you. People don't care that you're fucking awkward- they love you! You are the only one who doesn't love you. Do you hear me? Stop running away thinking that people hate you because they are too busy to hate you!! You are constantly stressing about the past, and worrying about the future. One foot in the past, one in the future. Do you know what that means? You're SHITTING on the present! Go LIVE, DANIEL!!"
I opened my eyes, locking focus onto my slowly revolving ceiling fan. It was all a dream.
This has to be my wake up call. I was working a dead-end job for the last ten years, feeling lonely and lifeless on a daily basis. I was 40 and going nowhere in life. I've wanted to do stand-up comedy ever since I was a child but I've been so fearful of what people would say. I have friends who do it but I stopped hanging out with them because I found it easier to ignore and run away from my fear.
This fear has been desperately holding me back, doing all it can to make me stay in my misery; today I will no longer allow it to. Today, I will live!