Tuesday, December 20, 2016

I Called 911 Again

Matt had a Christmas party on Friday and I went even though I'm not very good at parties lately. See this and this.

But I figured that third time's a charm. Plus he needed help and Mr. Pants needed snuggling, so I showed up at 1:00 PM to do both.

We made some food. We decorated some tables. We (illegally) cut branches off of trees in a nearby public park to better adorn Broome Bungalow's chicest spaces.

Mr. Pants and Mr. Scraps didn't help at all. But they get away with it because they're usually doing this incredibly cute thing instead:

Oh, to be pretty.

The party was a hit. We played games. We mingled like grownups. No one (other than Matt) knocked glasses of staining liquid all over furniture. Jolyn was the life of the party, as usual. And we all left at a reasonable hour.

I started driving home, grateful that I finally attended a Christmas party without completely humiliating myself.

And then I saw something strange. And the something strange triggered my spidey sense.

A car was swerving wildly back and forth across the freeway, nearly colliding with a wall several times. Pretty quickly I realized that this wasn't a case of distracted driving. This vehicle was manned by a very intoxicated person.

Fortunately it was now late enough that there were very few cars on the road. Almost implicitly I dialed 911 on my phone.

911: 911. What is the location of your emergency?

Eli: Well, on the freeway. AND I KNOW I SHOULDN'T BE MAKING CALLS WHILE I'M DRIVING but this is important.

911: Eli? It's really late. Can we not . . .

Eli: I know. But I have a true and actual emergency right now. Well, actually I don't know if this is an "emergency" yet. But it could quickly become one. So I'm engaging in preventative calling right now. Because I guess I'm just a really responsible citizen.

911: Ok. What's going on?

Eli: Well there's a driver swerving back and forth across the freeway and I'm certain she or he is intoxicated and they are about to kill someone.

911: What is the make and model of the vehicle.

Eli: Dark.

911: The make and model of the vehicle is "dark?"


911: Ok, what about the license plate number?

By this point the car had pulled off of the freeway, conveniently at my same exit, so I was sitting behind it at an intersection and able to read off the license plate to the operator just before the car pulled forward, ran a red light, and nearly crashed into a road sign.

911: Ok. We will have someone dispatched out to your location to try to find the vehicle. Please don't follow it. Just go home.

Eli: But what if--

911: We don't need you to be a hero. GO HOME.

I drove home like a disappointed child who had been sent to bed by his parents who were hosting a neighborhood party downstairs.

And I never heard what happened. So now I have to live with the unsettling feeling of not knowing whether my narking got someone into serious trouble.

But in any event, consider this blog post a Stranger PSA: please don't drive drunk this holiday season, or any other season at all. Don't test the limits of your supposed sobriety. If you do, I will call 911 and those operators don't deserve that.

A while back I had to spend the morning in DUI court with a relative of a client who had gotten himself into some serious trouble. For an entire morning I watched person after person stand in front of a judge, sobbing (or at least shell shocked) because of how much one really bad decision had ruined their life, and some others as well.

One woman stood at the podium with her attorney who explained to the female judge that his client had gone to great lengths to clean up the mess she had caused with one terrible night of DUI. The no-nonsense 50-plus-year-old judge hushed the lawyer after a minute or two, looked the young woman in the eyes, and said, as intensely as I've ever heard anyone say anything in court, "I don't care what you've done. I care what you've learned. So what have you learned?"

The woman who had been mostly stoic up to this point then broke down sobbing, so much so that the four or five words she said were totally inaudible. The judge never broke eye contact with her before finally offering, "that's what you were supposed to learn."

Please, please, please don't give yourself a reason to learn that lesson, whatever it is.

And if you do, in addition to calling 911, I will personally send you an unmarked poster-sized picture of Tami with a really bad sunburn.

So yeah. Don't do it.


~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. I've seen waaaaaaaaaay too many incidents caused by drivers under the influence. Way. Too. Many. But, one not-incident stands out.

    About 40 years ago I was on a mostly-deserted stretch of highway - one with two lanes going in one direction, so "super" highway back then - when ahead of me I noticed a car going VERY slowly in the right lane, no left lane, no left shoulder, wait right lane...you get the idea. This was before cell phones, so I felt helpless as I knew what was going on and was unable to stop it. As I got closer to the car I could see a small child standing in the back seat. Again, this was prehistoric times so not only were there no cell phones but there were no car seats or laws regarding restraining kids in cars. I was truly alarmed at this point, so much so that I didn't notice the giant 18-wheeler pulling up alongside me and behind the drunk driver...until I saw him ease over and in front of the car and using the ass end of his truck he slowed it down to a near stop and gently forced the car off the road and onto the shoulder where it stopped. He blocked the vehicle in, blocking most of the other two lanes in the process, and got out. He ran back to the car just as a VERY impaired young woman fell out of the driver's side door, landing on her hands and knees on the pavement. I stopped, too..had to, the truck was blocking the road...and the trucker told me he'd used his CB (look it up, kids) to call the local police. About that time I heard the sirens as they approached. The young woman looked utterly bewildered as the police began talking to her, and confident they had the situation under control, the trucker got in his rig to drive away. That meant I could now leave, and as I did I looked back to see the small child still standing in the back seat of the car. He wasn't crying, he wasn't doing anything but watching. And I wondered how often he'd been witness to this to be that conditioned. SMH..still, after all these years.

    1. Yes, a truly heartbreaking story. Thanks for sharing Awesomesauciness.

  2. I've made that phone call too....although they didn't know my name...but there was a phone call that saved my grandparents at one point. Grandpa was old and further into dementia than we thought and on ramps are often confusing. He went the wrong way! Someone saved him and others by being quick on the phone! See something, tell someone. We all gotta pitch in sometime!

  3. Love this. I sometimes forget that you're a competent attorney on top of the creative projects you do. I love stories about your work and wish you would share more.

    Also, I'm pretty sure Tami is the most effective preventative measure against drunk driving. Way to deploy her in a meaningful way.

  4. This post took an interesting turn. I like it! Thank you for your voice!

  5. Just to piggyback on this because it happened recently, STOP TEXTING AND DRIVING. Right before Thanksgiving, a lovely girl I went to high school with was texting and driving and ran a red light at a high rate of speed. She crashed into another car and her SUV flipped. Five weeks later, after being in a coma and showing no signs of life, her family removed her from life support. She leaves behind a husband and four beautiful children, who now have to learn how to celebrate Christmas and live without their mother. Don't drink and drive. Don't text and drive. Don't drive tired. Your family, friends, and even strangers need you more than you know.

    1. Thank you for your post as well, Eli. I love that you use your platform to discuss a wide array of topics. Merry Christmas.

  6. I loved this post, but not as much as the picture of Pants and Scraps cuddling. I think the internet might actually explode.

  7. I've reported drunk drivers multiple times. I always wonder what happens afterward, but at least I know that I tried to help in my small way. I guess since I haven't heard about any major drunk driving accidents in the vicinity, things turned out okay?

  8. A woman in Kalamazoo was just sentenced to 10-20 years for the hit and run drunk driving death of a local college student. He was 21 and out for a run. She is 22 and her blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal amount. That poor decision ruined not only her life but eliminated that young man's and devastated both of their families.

    It's not worth it.