It must be a curious phenomenon of the responsible newly licensed driver: I want to get breathalised. It’s not that I want to triumphantly avoid giving the cops a single chance to take my newly earned licence away by finding alcohol in my blood. It’s just part of the whole car experience, like driving over the Westgate Bridge for the first time, or doing the Great Ocean Road, or parallel parking in a busy street.
Or changing a tyre, I suppose. I’m not sure I’m looking forward to that quite so much.
But while I’ve done most of the above, I haven’t been pulled over once. I don’t think I’ve even got any stern looks from passing police. I guess I’m successful at trying not to drive like a complete maniac.
So anyway, here’s what happened last Thursday week. I had left the car at Susannah’s (my sister) place in Richmond, and we’d gone to the Paul Kelly concert on the tram. After getting back around midnight, and a quick go on John’s (my sister’s boyfriend) cool but extremely bizarre handheld electronic angling game (I kid you not!) I got back in the car and headed for home.
I thought I knew a shortcut, which involved turning right from Swan Street into Church Street. But when I got there, I noticed a big "No Right Turn" sign. Despite it being past midnight, and there being almost nobody around, I thought I’d be a good citizen, and besides, taking Glenferrie Road south would be just as easy.
My sister told me later that there used to be a second piece of that sign, that said something like "MON-FRI 4:30-6:30pm", which has fallen off, and nobody knows if they mean to replace it or not.
But no matter. A further kilometre or so down Swan Street, a police car turned into the street ahead, going in the same direction. And a few seconds, I saw a second police car, stopped with the lights flashing, with some motorist getting a quizzing. Didn’t look too serious though. The Vic police can look pretty friendly when they don’t have their guns drawn.
At this point, the road goes up and over the rail lines at Burnley. And just beyond the bridge, in the perfect concealed location, there it was: a booze bus. Cops walking around, bollards out, warning signs telling me to slow down… the whole circus. Yippee!
I slowed down. This could be it. Breathe into the bag time. This is Lucky Phil time. At last. Beyond the bus, I could see a car, apparently chased and stopped in a side street by another police car in an apparent escape attempt.
My car approached the bus… I slowed down… Looking expectantly for a signal to stop… They were packing up. Damn!
Ah well, maybe next time.