There was a time, more than a decade ago, that circumstances forced me to work two jobs. I would work from six in the morning until four in the afternoon at one job and from six at night until midnight or one in the morning at the other. This went on for about four months. It did strange things to me, both physically and mentally. The most obvious impact was on my ability to drive a car.

"How much have you had to drink tonight, son?"

I barely remember the face of the officer, a Massachusetts state trooper with his hat and uniform all so very correct. He pulled me over as I was travelling south on the highway sometime after one o'clock in the morning. It was a Friday night and I had just finished a long night working and wanted to go home to my bed. I was dozing off while driving, and as often happened in those days, I would find my eyes shutting and would force myself to keep them open, looking at the clock on the car radio and reminding myself "only fifteen more minutes to go." I would count down the minutes, knowing it was a little more than a half an hour from start to finish and telling myself "You can make it."

The odd thing was that I didn't get a ticket or even some kind of written warning. Once I told the state trooper that I had just gotten off of work and told him where, he looked me over and determined I was not drunk. He had me get out of the car and walk around in the chilly night air. I told him how I was working two jobs and that I was just very tired and needed to get home.

No citation. No ticket. I was put back behind the wheel with a lot of highway in front of me. The state trooper went back to hiding in the bushes and I went on my way. I continued to doze off. I continued to weave, sliding off the road towards the shoulder before snapping back to consciousness and pulling my car back onto the road. I was a danger to everyone on that highway and a danger to myself.

But I wasn't drunk.
And that's what really matters, isn't it?


DISCLAIMER: Although it goes against my normal policy to do this... A number of people seem to be under the impression that I am condoning drinking and driving. I am amazed that they have construed that from this writeup. I am not condoning drinking and driving by any means. The point is about crusades and how they can blind us. Please call a cab. Thank you.


The fine folks at MADD have spent a fortune trying to figure out why drinking and driving is such a huge problem. They should have just asked me. It is because nowhere else does music blaring out of some fine quality speakers sound better than when you are loaded like a Columbian drug mule with your foot on the pedal and the road disappearing under your feet in your own personal escape pod.

How many stories have you read in your local paper about . . . "an incident last night on the freeway where the arresting officer became suspicious because the vehicle was doing 94 MPH and, when asked specific questions, the three detainees had quite different stories about their destination. A search of the car revealed 3 kilos of high-quality cocaine with a street value of (your local going price)." And you think to yourself, "I think if I was trafficking 3 kilos of really good coke, I'd do something close to the speed limit." But you would have failed to factor in the event of (insert your current favorite song) coming on the radio just about 45 seconds before the speed trap radar lit up the heretofore bouncing Bonneville.

How many times have you started your car in the morning after coming home maybe a little too late the night before and the speakers blast you into the realization that you had been listening to music on +30 when +15 might be as loud as it needs to be? At that instant, you might look into the rear view mirror to see yourself with a sort of panicked look on your face, frantically searching for the volume knob like a lemur in mid-air lurching for the nearest limb.

Yes, when you see those old black and white photos of the Model T's and the dirt roads, you can rightfully imagine a dead chicken in front of a shotgun shack as the most likely casualty. But with Bose sound systems and the possibilities of damn near airborne speeds, it would be hard to calculate how many people have been killed or maimed by a hot guitar lick.

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