Bonfire Life
December 28, 2018

Rude awakening

A rude awakening. That’s what I’d call the knock on my front door 9 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018.

It’s not the cop’s fault. The Ontario Provincial Police officer was just doing his job serving paper’s for the Ontario Court of Justice.

Smack dab between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, no doubt it was in the top 10 of his least favourite shifts. Who would want to knock on a highway house door first thing on a wintery morning during the holidays? Add on top there was a storm threatening later in the day as a Colorado low promised Sault Ste. Marie to North Bay and Mattawa freezing rain before midnight.

Poor guy. And I quite the sight just five hours into a rest-less sleep after binging on various Netflix shows till 4 a.m. Of course, with my upper spine out of wack from sleeping on a couch in Sudbury last Sunday, I was tossing and turning more than usual. My bad leg was acting up as well, the throbbing gave advance warning of mild, humid weather approaching. The self-medication didn’t help my presentation much although the pain was significantly reduced.

So there I was, bleary-eyed, marinated in whiskey and suds while still buzzed on cannabis cookies, only a stolen Hampton towel around my waist saving the public servant from knowing more personal things. The brightness of day made me squint as I rubbed the gunk out of my eyes. Pluming above my head was the unmistakable scent of boiled weed flowing on the warm air currents from my wood stove (see cannabis cookies above). Rushing in was cold reality and the famous Cheech-and-Chong movie line: “Dave’s not here, man.”

But I didn’t care about any of that. A big strapping provincial cop was at my front door and my mind raced through a journalism career peppered with tragic road fatality reports. It starts often with the cop having to bear bad news to the parent. Was it my 20-year-old son? He’s back from university for the holiday break. He dropped by last night with a chum before going to a pal’s place to watch the World Junior hockey game. He had his car. He didn’t come home. Please, no …

“Good morning,” the officer said, almost smiling before being distracted by the towel I held together with one hand behind my back. It’s inconceivable, at least to me, why I don’t stop to pull pants on when roused out of bed with a knock on the door. It’s not the first time I found myself barefoot and bare chested greeting visitors, although it’s the first OPP officer (on duty). That’s the untanned price of disturbing my sleep, I guess.

My brain was foggy yet clearing a bit. It couldn’t be about Dylan if he said “Good morning.” That’s not how the conversation would start, would it?

“Are you David Dale?” he said, his look a bit more serious now that his nose was picking up on my lifestyle and medication choices. I thought: It’s legal now, right?

My heart was still prepared to break when he said I was being subpoenaed as a witness in an upcoming court case. A big sigh of relief passed through me as he pulled apart the copies, although I’m not sure it showed as the drugs and booze muddled my thinking.

“Oh yeah, yeah, yeah …” I giggled as it started to make more sense.

In the fall, I had reported a drunk driver on the highway and it turns out the accused wants to fight the charge and avoid more financial penalty. Everybody does these days because it’s serious business. I’d probably wiggle too if caught being so stupid. My 911 call recording and statement given to the investigating officer should suffice, but I don’t mind answering the call for my civic duty in court. I’ve covered enough of it as a reporter, being on the other side of the bench would be interesting.

It was the first time ever snitching to the fuzz on someone. But I did it to save some other parent from getting one of those early morning death knocks we all fear to receive.

Not only do I have son to worry about getting in an accident, he’s been considering a career in law enforcement of late and who knows if he’ll be on the sticky end of that situation in the future.

As a suggestion to the OPP and justice system, I think we have the technology available to reduce the number of times a police officer has to visit homes and set people up for avoidable anxiety attacks. They could have texted me a link to confirm my notification of the subpoena, for example.

It’s not that I don’t like cops, but like actor Mickey Rourke said in The Bar Fly movie, “I just feel better when they’re not around.”

Check back soon to read blogs currently under construction:

Are automatic RIDE-check breathalyzers a good trade when it comes to constitutionally-protected freedoms from unwarranted detention, search and seizure?

Can the OPP search your house if they smell pot while serving subpoenas? And, if so, how many cannabis plants can you legally grow on your property? Asking for a friend.

P.S. The photo at the top of this story is my gazebo in the back yard, nothing to do with anything in this blog post. Just art. But it may also partially illustrate what the OPP officer saw while parking in my little poor man's paradise.





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