The word went out. Volunteers were needed to assist the Toronto Police Services. Were Tamils running amok? Point duty at some intersection where the traffic lights were out? Did cruisers need washing? Coffee and donuts, somewhere? No, none of the above. A few community-minded individuals were needed, however, to imbibe enough alcohol, as to make themselves intoxicated to the point where police officers, in training, could readily recognize an inebriate, even when the inebriate was well beyond being able to do so himself, or herself.
With no selfish thought for myself, I appeared at the designated time and place, to do my duty. I was filled with civic pride. Being full of emotion was quickly replaced by being full of a pleasant-enough Sangiovese. Sangiovese gets its name from the Latin 'sanguis Jovis', (the blood of Jove). Jove, or Jupiter, according to Roman mythology, was the king of the gods. As my grandchildren call me Grandpa Jupiter, or approximations thereof, such as Jupa and Goonda, I felt things were off to auspicious start. I felt the Blood of Jove also set me slightly apart and above the other participants, who had chosen to relegate themselves to beer and that mean spirit, Vodka.
I learned that drinking 40 ozs. of red wine, over the course of two hours, takes away any sense of auspiciousness, much less a sense of balance. I did not fall over, however, and was cheery and cooperative throughout the testing that followed. I was asked to walk a straight line, hands at my sides, toe to heel, turn around and return to my starting point. I was asked to stand, hands at my sides, on one foot, with the other foot held out in front of me and count to 30. I was also asked to touch the top of a pen, held 12" from my nose, and then, without moving my head, to follow the pen, with my eyes, as it was swept from side to side, in front of me. Apparently, I failed every test and was declared "arrestable"on all the scoresheets. I was asked if I thought I could drive an automobile at that point. I said no. At least, I got that part right.
Late in the day, I was delivered by a police constable into the hands of my son-in-law, Hector, who saw that I safely got home. As I walked away from the experience, I thought about getting intoxicated, free, right under the noses of the cops, without be charged with anything. Part of it had been great fun. My ex-boss, Murray, who had recruited me for this affair, and I had laughed our heads off at several points. But there is just no ending this blog on a humourous note. Getting drunk like this was sobering. The kind of testing I was put through has been standard practice in the U.S.A. for years, and it is now coming to Canada. It's one more tool for police officers to use in the fight against drinking and driving.
My retirement is full of lessons, and this was one of the serious ones. I missed a day of monitoring birdboxes at Cold Creek Forest and Wildlife Centre on this day, but I have a new appreciation for how lucky I am to have the opportunity to enjoy another day.
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