Plot I-4 of the Foxfield Races, 2 p.m. — the scene of the crime. There was rampant underage drinking, a few ounces of illicit substances and several people in need of medical attention. There was also me, trying to back up my car so that I could leave.
The police officer on patrol jumped to action. Maneuvering around a body slumped in the mud, he bolted toward me. After halting me, he put two and two together and asked an astute question through the lowered window.
“Why are you trying to leave? You have anything to do with that woman who got carried out by the EMTs?”
Despite his high hopes, I wasn’t a hitman fleeing the scene. I responded that no, I just wanted to go home.
“Alright,” he said. “If you’re going to insist on driving, I’m gonna need you to step out of the car.”
Here are the top five things I learned from my first Field Sobriety Test.
1. That I was sober
I was pretty sure about this one. I had drunk an impressive amount of blackberry seltzer water throughout the day, but that was about it. Yet the officer’s nostrils flared as he told me that I reeked of alcohol. Two feet to our left a grown man poured a beer on himself. In the officer’s defense, all drunk drivers drive cars, and I was also driving a car, so if you carry the one while using the transitive property, that’s reasonable suspicion.
2. How to recite my ABC’s from F to R
It’s F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R. Don’t say I never did anything for you.
3. That being tested is so nerve-wracking you’ll still f—k it up
Count down from 67 to 46? You might’ve thought. I messed up midway through the 50’s and had to try again. I felt the officer confirming his suspicions, and that didn’t help anything. I also felt the splash of a drink on the back of my legs as someone plunged through a table. In the distance, someone screamed, “Where are you? Wait, where am I?” Thankfully, the officer remained undistracted and focused on the important task at hand.
4. That the force rolls deep
As the officer was testing me, his buddies showed up to watch. I had to follow the movement of his pen with my eyes without moving my head, and in the background, I saw an additional four officers watching me and whispering. I suppose that if my head had wobbled a single millimeter, all four of them would have charged and pinned down each of my arms and legs while the remaining one triumphantly read my Miranda rights. Behind them, a drunk woman opened a stranger’s car and passed out in their backseat, but all eight eyeballs stayed tuned on me because it was the exciting part — now the officer was moving the pen vertically.
5. How white Foxfield really is
Despite being able to identify the Student Hip-Hop Organization tent merely by the presence of more than two non-white people in the same place, I guess I hadn’t realized how white this event really was. But if five whole officers could spare a moment to give me a hard time, they must have already run out of people of color to harass. No wonder they were just lounging around!
There were plenty of other cars leaving that didn’t get stopped. To some extent, it might make sense that they profiled me as a drunk — I was at a massive drinking event, and, uh, wearing a tie-dye shirt, and, well … well, that’s it. But that profiling is limited to the location — outside of Foxfield, I like to think I appear as sober as the next person. But what, I wondered, would it be like if no matter where I went, I was profiled as a criminal, and police officers were inherently suspicious of me and often stopped me without a real reason, and I had to undergo BS tests that I know they wanted me to fail all the time? Can you imagine?
In the end, I thanked the officer, plowed through the crowd, and got home safely. I do wish that I’d studied more for my first test, but it turned out alright. Remember — don’t drink and drive, FGHIJKLMNOPQR and, in chaotic, dangerous situations, you can count on your local police force to apprehend the one sober person in a square mile.
Zach Schauffler is a Humor Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.