Being bypassed by booze bus just blows

Dear Police Commissioner Peter Marshall,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this complaint today. Whilst I'm not one to moan excessively (and I NEVER whinge about bad food or shoddy service or goods that fall apart the second the warranty expires), I feel the urgent need to get this gripe off my chest.

First, let me assure you I don't blame you for one second. As far as I'm aware, you were never actually present when the alleged "inappropriate actions" occurred, and I bear you no ill. But, in your position as head of police, you might be able to answer the one question burning inside me.

Simply put, it's this: What exactly is wrong with me?

You see, things came to a head - as they do - last Wednesday lunchtime. I was meandering along in my new Hyundai Getz, halfway between home and the supermarket, pondering what I'd pick up for tea and debating the benefits of leeks (my latest vege favourite). It was a reasonably warm and sunny day with light traffic, no obvious sign of rain and just a puff of wind to keep things interesting. My new car gleamed seductively in the lunchtime sun, all black and sexy and mouth- watering.

Five hundred metres from the supermarket car park, however, I happened upon a police operation.

Stretched out in front of me were 21 stationary cars of all sizes, zigzagging their way up the road towards me from a road cordon manned by what looked like half the police force in New Zealand.

Please pay particular attention to the precise number of cars. I have a real problem with testing my approximation skills, and I counted them not once, but at least three times as I waited in the sun.

Anyway, back to the story. Oi, oi, I thought to myself, what have we here? Drink-driving at 1.25pm on a quiet Wednesday afternoon before picking up the kids from school? What is the world coming to! I put my Hyundai into first, and crept along towards the cordon with what I can only call trembling anticipation.

In fact, the word "goody" echoed in my head as I gently bunny- hopped along the road. You see, I'm not a drinker, in general terms. Half a glass of chardonnay gets me pretty pickled as a rule, and I'd probably need my stomach pumped after two lagers. My usual tipple is a diet coke or a soda-with-a-twist-of- lemon, and I'm not afraid to admit it.

So you can imagine the excitement - and not fear - that I feel at being stopped by a booze bus. Last Wednesday it was, I'm ashamed to say, the highlight of the day thus far, and I watched patiently as each driver was stopped, spoken to and then let go to continue their afternoon activities. I have to say, it was quite pleasant.

Ten cars in front, the action heated up. A woman with stringy brown hair and a big dog in the back spoke into the device and was asked to exit her car. We all looked in greedy fascination as she hung her head and, with despondent shoulders, followed after a stocky sergeant.

The lady in the Golf in front of me - an attractive Korean - looked in her rear vision mirror and widened her eyes at me dramatically. I smiled back companionably, sharing her voyeuristic shock, then did the same to the woman in a four- wheel-drive behind me. It was almost like we were part of a private club, sitting there on the motorway off-ramp waiting for something to happen, setting off a chain reaction along the exclusive row of vehicles.

I started humming that annoying Chain Reaction Diana Ross song. Not even Danny Watson blustering on the radio talkback could dislodge it from my head. Unfortunately.

As the cars were stopped I counted, until the turn of the lady in front. She spoke into the device, then waited as the officer checked her windscreen. His broad shoulders leaned back in through her window, and I saw her throw her arms up in horror before she grasped her face in a vice-like grip.

Oh no, I thought. The poor woman's registration's overdue. She stabbed a quick glance at me before wandering unhappily off behind her constable to be processed.

There was none of the warmth of her previous telepathic communication in her look, and my heart crumpled for her.

Throwing the Hyundai into first once again, I poised ready for my turn. Nerves quivering, a wide smile on my face and my chest thumping with pleasurable anticipation, I wound down my window, leaned right and opened my mouth to say hi to the sharply- turned-out police officer getting his breath-tester ready.

What happened next is the unfortunate story of my life. He waved me on. He didn't even look into my eyes, or smile or even say a word. He didn't look at my registration, warrant of fitness, tyres, rust or windscreen wipers.

He didn't make sure I was wearing a seatbelt, he didn't care about whether I had 17 unrestrained toddlers in my car, he wouldn't have seen a 2-metre reefer in my hand (if I'd had one) or that I had five crocodiles smuggled in sacks on my back seat.

He waved me on, hands as graceful as a synchronised swimmer in the Olympic Games. And, for the umpteenth time in my life, I had to drive through. Out of the 50 or so cars waiting that day I was the only one they didn't breath-test.

Now, I'm sure most people won't think this is a major problem, but they're not me. They wouldn't take it to heart that they never catch the eye of police officers looking for trouble. They obviously don't look so boring, so staid, so irresistibly grey, middle-aged and unappealing that police disregard their law-breakage potential completely after one solitary assessing glance.

As someone who's only been breath-tested once in my life (and the machine thing bloody broke as I breathed into it), I DO take it personally. Down deep, I've got an evil streak. I HAVE! Somewhere in the recesses of my psyche, I'm naughty. I'm sure of it.

So I ask you, Police Commissioner Marshall, why do I constantly miss out? And, what, exactly, is wrong with me?

Yours sincerely, Kathryn Calvert.

Taranaki Daily News