"Better watch what you do, We're looking out for you, We've got our eyes on you, Mr Blue..." - who did that song, anyhow?
As soon as the officer said, "I notice you are not wearing your seat belt," AJ knew he was in for it. Young policeman. Just out of the military. Looking to make some points.
So AJ explained that the Clubhouse was a 1965 Volkswagen, dating to an era before the National Highway Safety Act of 1967 and, therefore, exempt from the seatbelt law.
But that didn't cut mustard with this guy.
You could tell that he didn't like talking through the just-too small sliding window in the driver's door, especially since he had to stand to the front of the door to do so, losing that advantage so dear to an arresting officer - making the driver crane his neck around in order to respond to conversation.
So as soon as the cop started his safety spiel, AJ popped the driver's door open and jumped out, alarming the officer, who stopped in mid-sentence, pulled his baton from its holster, and ordered him back into the vehicle. Too late. AJ was out, and holding the door wide open, was telling the officer to climb in the front seat.
Denise described it later: "Acting like a loon and a half"
This turn of events was a puzzlement to the policeman, stopping him cold in his tracks. He came around to the door and looked suspiciously at the driver's seat, then at AJ, who continued to cajol, "Climb in there. C'mon. C'mon. You can see for yourself."
Of course, the cop couldn't see anything, but that trained curiosity of his profession had come into play, and he moved closer to the driver's seat, peering into the dusky innards of the Clubhouse as though expecting to see bales of ganga or perhaps Jimmy Hoffa's body itself. And AJ kept yammering, like a barker at the carnival, "Climb into that seat. See if you'd wear a seatbelt. Climb on in... Climb on in..."
Now, most cops would have bailed out at that point, regaining the momentum of the situation and continuing the usual scenario, perhaps calling for the drug-sniffing dog, or at the very least a vehicle safety check. But this guy was a little different.
With a touch of distaste, he was eyeing up the the duct tape upholstery repairs on the driver's seat and that straw-like stuff poking through, but he evidently had an adventurous streak or maybe a lurking desire to throw it all away and go on Tour forever - if only for a moment - because he suddenly JUMPED right up behind the wheel into the driver's seat, just as though he had been doing it all his life. He grabbed the steering wheel with both hands and rotated it back and forth through the 1/2 revolution of bad-drawbar freeplay, beaming at AJ with a huge grin, like a kid on a merry-go-round for the very first time.
But it was back to business immediately as AJ, self-appointed Safety Officer since the erection of the new building last year, showed him why he never wears a seatbelt in the Clubhouse, pointing at the front panel - the front of the microbus - and then to the cop's legs just inches away and then to the steering column amidst them both, blathering about protection, and injuries, and lack of mass forward of the passenger compartment, then walking around and BASHING the vehicle just over the headlight to make his point. And the policeman, belly hanging against the steering wheel, jumped up startled.
"Your legs being the only thing protecting the rest of the vehicle," is how AJ put it.
It was pretty obvious that the officer wasn't buying the argument. But then he started to climb out of the Clubhouse, always a more difficult task than climbing in, and in this case quite a feat for the novice, as he had an especially hard time getting his right foot around the steering column, sitting sideways half out of the vehicle, sort of kicking his foot, kicking his foot, torso hanging suspended over the front tire through the open door, trying to get out.
AJ stopped talking and just watched.
It took the cop a few seconds to get out of the Clubhouse and a couple more to regain his composure, but there's no doubt that he understood that a seat belt would not have speeded his exit.
But, he was a policeman by profession, and his job was not to encourage persons in the disuse of seat belts. So he launched into the safety spiel once again. AJ just stood and listened to him, and after a little bit the officer just sort of dropped it - again in mid-sentence.
The policeman ended up telling AJ that he was just giving him a warning this time, but it could be a ticket next time, and AJ took that as meaning that he wouldn't be going to jail, so the two of them shook hands and parted amicably, and AJ still wasn't wearing a seatbelt when he left either.
But that doesn't change the way things are, does it?
c 1997 Air Cooled Volkswagen Junkyard of Richfield, Ohio
http://www.acvwjyro.com "Where Advice Is Always Free"(216)659-3638
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