I always find it interesting that, when I'm just about ready to give up on trying to think of something new to write about here and do a re-post, something happens that just begs to be written about. This happened to me yesterday, while driving home from my parent's house after helping them with their bakery business for a few hours.
While on the road home, I got behind this dark green Mercury. After being behind the car for about a mile, I noticed that the driver was being very erratic. The car was all over the road, drifting from one side of the lane to the other, often crossing the yellow lines and making it about halfway into the southbound lane before jerking back into the northbound. The driver wasn't keeping a consistent speed, and often would slam on the brakes for no apparent reason. I kept a safe distance behind it and wondered what I should do.
Now, I'm the kind of guy who doesn't have any qualms over reporting an erratic driver. There is enough to watch out for on the road these days where I feel it's the responsible thing to do to let the police know if I see someone that is driving in an unsafe manner. I've reported many erratic drivers over the years, and I had a particularly bad feeling about this one. After making sure that what I saw wasn't just a temporary moment of distraction, and after seeing the driver exhibit more of the same unsafe driving, I called it in.
The dispatch officer was curt and professional. I described what I had seen and told them that I had been behind the car for a number of miles. I described the car to him, and he asked me to get the plate number.
I sped up a little so I could read it clearly. "9919 GY. Maine plates."
There was a slight pause. "Can you repeat that?" the officer asked. There was a sudden increase in tension in his voice that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
I repeated it again slowly, being careful to enunciate clearly.
"So let me be clear," he said with urgency. "This is a Mercury with Maine license plates 9919 Golf Yankee."
"Okay, Sir, I'm going to ask you to take extreme caution and stay behind this vehicle. Are you okay with doing this?"
"Sure, I guess so."
"Good. I'm going to contact the Sheriff. Please hold."
Before I had any chance to respond, there was a click and then some hold music. I had about forty-five seconds to myself, my mind racing as to what I had just gotten myself into. Then, there was another click and the dispatch officer was back on the line.
"Yes, I'm here."
"Good. Here's what's going to happen. I've given the Sheriff your number. He's going to call you and give you further instructions. Remember, safely keep pace with the vehicle and keep track of the names of the streets he turns onto if he pulls off the road you are on now. Are you comfortable with this?"
"Yes," I replied.
"Good. What kind of car are you driving?"
"A gold Ford Focus."
"Thank you. Okay. I'm disconnecting now. Wait for the Sheriff to call and follow his instructions."
The line went dead. I didn't even have time to set my phone down before it rang. It was the Sheriff. I gave him information as to where we were currently, what landmarks we had passed to give him an idea of how soon we'd be to where he was located. Like the dispatch officer, the Sheriff was brief and to the point.
"Are you familiar with where the Post Office is, roughly a half mile from your current location on the northbound side?" he asked.
"I'm parked in that lot with my engine running and in gear, an unmarked white Dodge Challenger. Are you familiar with what my car looks like?"
"Great. When you approach the Post Office parking lot, drop back and flash your lights. Are we clear?"
Everything was happening so fast, I didn't have time to think about anything else. I checked my mirrors to see what kind of traffic was behind me. The Post Office would be coming up in about thirty seconds on the right.
"Good. Thank you for your help. I'll contact you if I need anything else." The line disconnected.
I dropped my phone onto the passenger seat and gripped the wheel with both hands. Just around the bend I could see the sign for the Post Office. The Mercury was still driving erratically, in similar fashion to when I first called it in.
We made the corner, and I saw the white Challenger. I hit the brakes and flashed my lights. Right on cue, as the Mercury passed the parking lot the white Challenger in the lot turned on it's lights and sirens. It's engine roared powerfully as it peeled out of the lot and took after the Mercury. I drifted to a crawl, but the cars behind me didn't protest. They clearly had seen the Sheriff take chase and were interested to see what had happened.
The driver of the Mercury didn't put up much of a chase. He pulled over a couple hundred feet down from the Post Office. The Challenger braked hard, pulling up a cloud of dust as his rear tires dragged into the sand on the shoulder. Almost before the car stopped moving, the Sheriff was out of his car with his gun drawn.
My heart dropped down into my stomach. Now about a car's length behind him, I took a wide berth around him and drove past. He tipped his head in my direction as I passed.
I have no idea what happened afterwards. I didn't really want to be involved any further if there was that much of a need to track down the driver of the vehicle to have a civilian keep pace with it, and then have the Sheriff draw his sidearm as he approached the car. Perhaps the car was stolen. Perhaps the registered owner of the car had a warrant for his arrest or is wanted otherwise. All I know is that I had done my civic duty, and I was getting the hell out of there.
I'll be checking the local police arrest records over the next week to see if I can find out what it was all about. It was a very intense span of minutes, and I have to say that the dispatch system worked very quickly and efficiently. From the time that I called to the time I passed the Sheriff with his gun out, less than five minutes had passed.
One thing is for sure... This takes care of my one good deed for the week.