Skip to main content

When It Is Time To Stop, Stop

Cuffs and a joint : )

Cuffs and a joint : )

For this story to make sense, we have to go back further than when it happened, in the summer of 2018. We have to go back to the autumn of 2009, when I was racing with my own self, down the highway, here in Toronto. There was no particular good reason for me to drive as fast as I was driving but I did it anyway.

The grandma and grandpa who forgot themselves in the fast lane, were waved out of the way, given some hand gestures; no not the finger, the three fingers put together, bending the wrist back and forth. It’s a European thing, or an Italian thing … who knows? Either way, I was being rude because I wanted to go fast and they were in my way.

After some tailgating and hand waving, the grandpa moved his boat out of the way and I flew by. Having an open lane ahead, I went as fast as the car allowed me to go. I was probably still cursing when I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw cherries on the dashboard of a dark green truck/4x4 behind me: an unmarked cop car and/or karma.

I knew I had fucked-up. Not only because I was driving way beyond the speed limit, acting like an ass to people who did not deserve it but I also knew my license was already under suspension. The officer was not impressed either.

He did not even give me a ticket. He gave me a pink slip: a summons to court and then, he towed the car. Right away I knew that was bad. I could see it all unfolding at some later time: a younger guy standing in front of some stale-looking judge, trying to explain why he was doing nearly 50km over the speed limit, with a suspended license. Ya, that was not going to fly … or, not going to fly well and so, I made the clear decision that I was not going to let that future play out.

I took that pink slip which the officer gave me and tossed it. I wasn’t going to any court, to see any judge. I wasn’t going to play their game because if I did, I knew I would deepen the hole I was already in. Plus, I did not need the finger-waving of any judge. I knew I had messed-up, big-time.

The decision was then made to skip the trial and skip any further contact with police and/or the courts. I told myself to lay low for ten years. That was the goal: be invisible for about ten years and all will be washed-out by time. Time does heal everything, if we only allow it.

That’s how we get to the story from Blind River a couple of years ago, when I was headed to Thessalon First Nations for their annual traditional Pow-wow, at the beginning of August. I finally had to stop.

I was alone driving at night, about nine o’clock or so, trailing a truck, which was pulling a fishing boat. We were headed west on the Trans-Canada Hwy., about an hour or so east of Sault St. Marie. The truck was my decoy. Or, so I thought. I was half-way through smoking a joint, when I said to myself:

“I’m getting close to the Reserve. I need some time to air-out. I should just have a smoke.”

I put-out my joint but did not have enough time to light a cigarette, when I saw cherries in my rear-view mirror. There was nobody else around. The truck with the fishing boat was pretty far ahead and I immediately knew that my nearly ten-year run had come to an end.

To be honest, I was waiting for that day. I knew it would come, eventually at some point. Nobody gets to drive with no license for decades on end without getting pulled over.

“You were doing 75km in a 50km zone,” said the officer when she approached my window.

“I was just following the guy with the fishing boat, trailing him; didn’t realize this was not the highway” I responded, somewhat surprised that I was being told that I was driving through a town, hence the 50km per hour speed limit.

Blind River is like that: if You look to the south, You mostly just see trees, or what looks like forest and the North Channel of Lake Huron. Only on the north side of the highway, or street I guess (the Trans-Canada turns from highway to street in Blind River), You can see more houses and some establishments resembling a town. It was also getting dark at that point and I missed the speed limit sign. Thus, I failed the Blind River speed trap, on that Friday night.

When the officer asked for “license and registration”, I reached out for the ownership, while at the same time saying:

“I have the ownership here, the car is not stolen but I don't have a license. I don't know if it's suspended, or expired”.

Her eyes widened and she seemed a little taken by surprise but that did not last long because right away she did a little sniff of the air and asked me if she was smelling cannabis.

“Yes, there is a half a joint in my cigarette pack and some more weed in my back-pack.”

At this she was clearly surprised because she stood back, looking a little strangely at me and said:

“You do not look impaired.”

“I’m not,” I replied quickly.

“Well, if You are telling me that You have narcotics in the car, I have to place You under arrest.”

“Okay”, I replied calmly.

Haha!! I still remember that moment clearly too. I was so ready for that day and for that moment. I had over nine years to prepare for it. There was nothing surprising, or unexpected about it. I have made my peace with the Devil a long time ago.

I pulled the keys out of the ignition as instructed and got out of the car. We walked-out to the shoulder of the highway where she put the hand-cuffs on, while telling me my rights. She then explained that she had to call a male officer to pat me down (since she was a female and I was a male) before I could sit in the back of her cruiser. The call for assistance did not go well, as her walkies-talkie thing on her shoulder kept pushing out static noises and her calls went-out into thin air.

I quickly got bored of standing on the side of the highway with the cuffs on. I wanted to get-on with the process.

“Look, I have no weapons and like I said there is a half a joint and a bit of weed in the inside pocket of my back-pack. That’s all there is. And I don’t care if You pat me down, that’s fine.”

So, she did pat me down and I got to my seat in the back of her cruiser. She then punched-in my name, address and all that good stuff into her computer and I will never forget the look on her face, or what she said to me that night:

“********, your license has been expired since 2014. You know we’re in 2018, right?”

That was so embarrassing, to say the very, very least. Haha!! What a moment. I don’t know what that moment meant to her but for me, among other things it meant: “fix your license! It’s time.”

“Yes, I know”, I assured her, although I did not know what my acknowledgement that I knew the year we were in, meant.

Another cruiser with the lights on pulled-up and both her and the new male officer began looking around my car. I had a decent view of what they were doing from the back seat of the cruiser and so, I did see them going into my back-pack but I could not see clearly what exactly they were doing.

She eventually returned, sat down in the cop car and told me that I was getting two tickets: one for doing 75km in a 50km zone and one for driving a motor vehicle with no license. She also told me that the car would be pulled off the road by a local tow-truck company and that she would drop me off at a nearby 24hrs Tim Hortons (a coffee chain popular in Canada).

I then asked her to get me my back-pack from the car because in it, I had my wallet, cell-phone, things I would certainly need without a car. She kindly agreed and went and got my back-pack from my car; after we drove off.

When we got to the Tim Hortons, she only stopped the car in the front of the store for about five seconds then, she said something along the lines that if she was to take me out of the car and pull off the hand-cuffs in front of all the people hanging out outside and inside the coffee shop, that would not look good.

Personally, I could care less but I did see a point in not freaking-out people who are trying to enjoy a cup of coffee, or tea on a Friday night, by seeing a guy taken out of cuffs and let go free, right in front of them. So, she drove to the back of the building, where it was pretty dark, took off the hand-cuffs, gave me my back-pack and off she went.

I made use of the store to get a cold bottle of water and went outside to have a smoke. As I opened my bag to get my pack of smokes out, I saw the inside pocket, where I usually keep my weed, still bulging. That threw me off. I immediately opened it and to my utter disbelief, there was all my weed, my rolling papers, my pair of scissors … nothing was even touched. Everything was there as I had last seen it. I was dumb-struck.

If all my weed was there, probably somewhere around ten grams or so then, what did the cops do with my bag? I saw them looking through it.

I opened the bigger compartment of the bag and saw I was missing my bag of Sacred Medicines. That is a cloth bag where I keep a smudging bowl, together with worm-wood, white buffalo sage, cedar, tobacco, sweet-grass, objects of power and such things. Those herbs are all Sacred Medicines. I use them as offerings, for cleansing and/or for prayer. That entire bag was missing.

At that point, I was even more confused: I had all my weed but my Spiritual Bundle was missing. That I was not going to simply accept and move on so, I asked someone where the police station was and when given the directions I started walking. I wanted to figure out what happened. I could not believe that they took my bag with medicine herbs and spiritual objects but left me with the weed. That made absolutely no sense. They obviously had made a mistake.

When I got to the police station, it looked like there was nobody there. The lights were mostly out inside, the place looked all closed-up but luckily, I saw a middle-aged man (off duty police officer I presumed) walking from the side of the building to a truck. I made my way towards him and as he drove-off, he stopped when he got close to me. I told him that I got pulled over for speeding with an expired license and that I wanted to talk to the lady officer who pulled me over.

He pointed to a phone on the side of the police station and told me to lift the receiver, which would connect me to the dispatch, which could in turn send a message to the officer to whom I wanted to speak with. That worked better than I thought and after about forty-five minutes of laying on the police station’s lawn, I saw two cruisers pull into the parking lot.

I was waived to go to the front of the police station, while the lady officer from earlier, with her male partner, walked-in the building from the side door. Her and I met in the foyer.

When we met, I told her that in my back-pack, there was a white, cloth bag, containing my Medicine Herbs and other Spiritual Objects.

“Where is that bag”, I asked curiously.

“We left it in the car”, she replied straight-forward.

At that point, I was stunned. I don’t know if she saw it on my face, or not but I just could not make sense of anything anymore.

“So … what did You take because I still have all the weed? You didn’t take the weed.”

“Well, what is this then”, she asked while putting on her black, leather gloves and pulling out my Ziploc bag, with sacred tobacco out of the side-pocket of her pants.

That’s when things fell into place: my back-pack contains many bags, many zippers and pockets within pockets. With a little luck, one might pull-out a live rabbit out of it too. Haha!!

“That’s my sacred tobacco”, I said while pointing at the bag in her hand. “That’s just used for prayer. It’s not for smoking. The weed is still in my bag”, I went on.

She was very calm when she extended-out her hand with my bag of sacred tobacco and said: “Okay, trade.”

Haha!! And we did, right there in the foyer of the police station: I got my bag of sacred tobacco back, for which I would have walked many more countless miles if I had to and she got roughly eight-nine grams (I had to keep a bit for that night I had to spend in Blind River) of pretty good cannabis. The whole foyer reeked when I pulled-out the weed from my back-pack and gave it to her. I’m pretty sure I thanked her and walked-out smiling. Haha!!

Now, please do not do what I do kids. Really, don’t. I’m a different type of creature: “God’s unique prototype, never meant for mass distribution” (Hunter S. Thompson). I often play my cards very differently than most people but I always acknowledge and accept that there is a limit to things. I do stop when I have to and I also keep in mind another of Hunter S. Thompson's sayings: "many good books have been written in jail". And that settles it, always.

All the best to everyone and a special “thank You” to officer S.L. for not being "a square" (Pulp Fiction reference). I appreciate it. Cheers!

Hunter S. Thompson's America