This is Alaska. Big. Daunting. Cold. Not the place to be stupid. Not the place to run out of gas. This is where I come in. My name is Filter. I carry a can.
It is a crisp fall afternoon. I am cruising the Alaska Highway in my mauve-and-white with my partner Sergeant Crankshaft. We spot a vehicle with the emergency flashers on. I pull up behind the suspect. I approach the suspect, a distraught woman in her thirties. My partner has my back.
The window rolls down. I brace myself for the worst.
“Ma'am, may I see your driver's license,” I say. Those are the words nobody wants to hear.
“But I just ran out of gas,” she says.
“Ma'am. We hear that all the time. Your driver's license, please.”
The suspect searches through her backpack and locates her license. I check it out; it seems to be in order. But we can't take chances.
“Step out of the car, ma'am.”
The suspect complies, but reluctantly. I know this is going to be a bad one.
“Assume the position, ma'am.”
“Ma'am. We're going to have to give you a breathalyser test.”
“But I just ran our of gas!” she protests. Crankshaft and I have seen this a thousand times.
“Officer Crankshaft, bring the device.,” I order. Crankshaft brings the breathalyser and administers the test.
“It's nine-seven, Officer Filter,” he says. I take over.
“Ma'am. You just blew a nine seven.
“But I don't even drink!” she protests vehemently.
“Ma'am. That's your IQ. I'm afraid we're going to have to give you a berating.”
I return to the mauve and white and radio for backup. This is not going to be pretty.
Within minutes our backup arrives. Officers Bumper and Tire emerge from their mauve-and-white, their weapons at the ready, and join us around the suspect.
Officer Bumper blows a note on his pitch pipe. In four part harmony, we deliver the official berating:
YOU STUPID STUPID PERSON!
HOW CAN YOU RUN OUT OF GAS?
DRIVING THE ALASKA HIGHWAY
YOU MUST HAVE YOUR HEAD UP YOUR BONNET
We repeat the process three times, just to be sure the suspect gets the message. The suspect is deemed adequately subdued. I give the command to my partner.
“Filler 'er up, Crankshaft.”
Sergeant Crankshaft carries the five gallon gas can to the suspects vehicle, and pours it in. I address the suspect.
“Ma'am. You realize this is a temporary solution. At some time in the future you will have to refill your gas tank. Do I make myself clear?”
The suspect nods, but I realize it is a hollow gesture. It is a hollow head doing the nodding.
Crankshaft and I return to the mauve-and-white after sending the suspect on her way.
It's all in a day's work.
Causes Eric Nichols Supports
Free Burma Rangers, Partners Ministries (Thailand), Literacy council of Alaska, Access Alaska.