21 November 2009

Get your hands up

Roy and I are in driving along highway 6 in front of the Book Cliffs in Utah. This is classic cowboy country, a long straight road across the badlands with huge continuous cliffs on the left and in the distance redrock desert on the right. It’s been a long day in the field and there is a cold beer waiting in Green River. The road is pretty empty so I am doing a healthy 85 mph.

The Book Cliffs and Highway 6 - never meant for 60 mph

Suddenly I realize that one of the cars just about to pass going in the other direction has a rack of blue and red lights on the top. Bollocks! Bollocks! Bollocks!

So I say to Roy, we are about to get pulled over, stay cool, we’ll get a ticket and be on our way. Just don’t get out the car, don’t make any sudden moves and make sure he can see your hands. As I say this, I look in the mirror and see the blues light up and the sheriff does a u-turn.

So I pull over before he is even behind me and put my hands on the wheel in plain view. Roy raises his in a stance of surrender, I am not sure if he is scared or being ironic but I think its kind off funny so I do the same…

The plod approaches, moving along the side of the car cautiously. This is with good reason, too many of Utah’s finest have been shot by crazy people out on these open roads.

When he reaches the open window he immediately asks “Why the hands up? You got a concealed weapon license I don’t know about?”
“No officer” I reply, in earnest, “we are British and we heard that if we got pulled over then we should show our hands or risk being shot”.

He visibly relaxes and apparently thinks this is the funniest thing he has heard today. He takes my license to check it out and then comes back with a big smile on his face.
“Since you guys aren’t from around here I am gonna let you off with a warning”
“Thank you officer, we’ll be more careful in future”

Nice one!

Two days later, early morning we have hooked up with Chris, Atle and Helen and we are all heading south from Green River to Moab for a five day raft trip. We are all pretty excited; I am doing my predictable 85 mph when we pass a policeman. Bugger!

So I pull over and say “get your hands up everyone, now!”

Roy gets it straight away, the others comply but a bit more hesitantly.
The police man approaches and fortunately it’s a different one and this is a different county. Again he asks why our hands are up and again I say the same thing. Helen, who is rather striking and has a pretty plumy English accent at the best of times, hams it up and says
“We’d rather not get shot officer”

He looks less than impressed but goes off and 10 minutes later comes back, telling us he is going to let us off. We thank him profusely and drive away slowly.

Nice one!

Maybe this is the solution to all those speeding tickets? The question is, how far could you push it?

Two years later Atle and I bottled out of trying it again and took the ticket. That time it was at 3 am and we had been out sampling sandstone in Arches with a large drill which was in the back of the car. We were also half cut and didn't want to try and explain what we were doing, but that's another story…

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