Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Riding With The Chief

I mentioned earlier about the Chief's (my Big Sister's husband) birthday party. And when people stood up to salute him, they also ribbed him about a couple of things. Including his driving.

Now, the Chief hasn't always been Chief. He used to be Sergeant. When I met him ... long before my Big Sister met him ... he was a detective. Chief detective for the Sheriff's office. But, following an election, we got a new sheriff ... and back then, that meant all new deputies, detectives, and such.

So, the Chief moved to the Police Department ... and became the Sergeant. Now, they had multiple sergeants. At least one for each shift. And he was shift sergeant ... and The Sergeant when that shift was on.

He loved working the night shift. In a small town in southeast Georgia, it's quiet at night and pretty easy work ... until all Hell breaks lose. And when it does, we're talking Rednecks ... most likely with alcohol involved.

My job as newsman from the radio station meant that I hung around certain places to see what was going on. And, on occasion, that meant the night shift at the police department.

Since I knew the Sergeant when he was the Chief (Detective) ... no introductions were needed. And since we had become friends, he didn't mind asking me to ride with him on occasion.

That's when I learned about the Sergeant's driving.

All the jokes they told about his driving at the birthday party were ... well, to be honest ... true. He's scary when he drives.

But, in all the time I rode with him, nothing more than being scared happened. I thought we were going to die ... but we didn't. I thought we were going to wreck ... but we didn't. I thought I would be scarred for life ... oh, well, I might have been.

Another thing about riding the streets at night is that you ride with the windows down. Even when it's cold.

You see, you have to hear what's going on. Whether or not it's someone yelling, or a gunshot or whatever, you got to be able to hear it.

Anyway, one cold night in my hometown, I was riding with the Sergeant. It was freezing. And the windows were down. Heater was on, but it was cold.

Now, the Chief (formerly the Sergeant) likes a good cigar. And, riding in the cold with the window down is a good time as any for a cigar. So, he stopped and picked up what passes for good cigars in my hometown at 2:00 AM.

Back in the car, with his RC100 in the cupholder beside him and the cigars tossed up on the dash, the Sergeant started up the car and we headed down First Street, away from the hosptial, towards downtown.

That's when a radio call came. Some domestic dispute or something came in from a housing project past the hospital.

So, the Sergeant swung his old War Horse (as he called his car) around, doing a 180° turn. Now, if you know anything about the Laws of Motion, and apply those to cars, cigars, and dashboards ... well, here's what's going to happen.

The cigars will suddenly move across the dashboard relative to the position of everything else in the vehicle. Which has the effect of the cigars sliding towards the window. The open window.

The Chief likes his cigars. So, with the War Horse just completing a 180, and his cigars heading out the window, the Chief lets go of the steering wheel and picks the cigars out of the air.

I'm white as a sheet, wide-eyed that the driver had just decided to let the steering wheel go and save his cigars.

He got his cigars and then took contol of the car and went to the call.

The perpetrator on the other end has no idea how lucky he was that the Chief managed to save his cigars.

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