In which Young Geoffrey is threatened with implicit consequences by the police and finds himself at the wheel with an octet of loud and inebriated police-women filling his vehicle.
Some of you might remember that I do not (yet) make a leaving in realms literary. I am a driver for a living, usually transporting flight crews between Ottawa and Montréal, but sometimes doing local runs here in Ottawa, between the airport and various hotels located more or less in the downtown core.
Last night found me doing the latter, filling in on local crew runs for a sick co-worker. It had been an uneventful shift, ferrying tired flight crews from the airport to their nights' lodgings, until around 2300 hours.
I had just dropped a crew at a hotel (cruelly, only a couple of blocks around the corner from my own apartment and sweet Raven, who I knew was taking advantage of my absence and chowing down on odoriferous sea-food while I laboured late into the night. But I digress) and was just about to radio the for instructions when there came a rap-tap-tapping at my passenger door.
Outside, a youngish woman swayed a little and gestured at me. I started to lower the window, but she no patience for such electronic gizmos. She just opened the door.
"Are you the shuttle?" she asked. "Are you here to take us to the Police Association?"
I shook my head and said no, explaining that I drove flight crews.
"Well," she said, after a very brief consideration, "can you make a special trip for me and my six friends? We'll pay you." She leaned into the cab, grinned at me mischievously. She lay her right hand on the passenger seat and spread her fingers, revealing an open wallet, in which lay something that looked very much like a police badge.
I leaned towards her, squinting (not only are my eyes not what they used to be, but it's been four years since my last new pair of glasses; coincidentally, I had an exam this morning and a new pair are on the way) at it.
She followed my gaze and said, "I strongly advise you to give us a ride." Still grinning, she nodded towards the ID and tapped it. "We're a hockey team," she added, "and just got to town. We need to get to 141 Catherine Street to register."
I was at once annoyed and amused. Annoyed on principal, but amused by that grin and by the sheer novelty of the situation. That said, I wonder if I would have been at all amused had the officer been a burly, moustacheiod male rather than a somewhat attractive and not especially large, woman. But, again, I digress.
"I'd like to," I said, ever the polite Canadian, "but I am on duty."
She tapped the badge again. "I really do advise you to take us," she said. "I know it's not that far."
"Why don't I call my office," I said. Towards midnight is our busy time. For scheduling reasons beyond my ken, an awful lot of airplanes seem to land between 2100 and midnight.
"Sure," she replied, "tell them that the Delta Hotel would greatly appreciate it if you would chauffeur a police hockey team to the Police Association on Catherine Street."
I shrugged and pressed the call button, waited for the buzz, then spoke. "47 ... I've been requested to tell you that the Delta Hotel would greatly appreciate it if I could chauffeur a police hockey team to the Police Association building on Catherine Street."
"He wants your authorization," the insistent cop called out.
My dispatcher didn't hesitate long. "Go ahead," her Persian-inflected voice replied. "10-4," I said and nodded at the woman, who was already putting away her badge.
"All right," I said, completely unnecessarily, "I guess we're good to go."
The woman turned and shouted, "He'll do it!" and what seemed almost a wave (if not quite a flood) of women poured through the doors of the hotel, hooting and hollering and calling their thanks to me.
It wasn't just the general sound of convivial hilarity that showed they'd been drinking. Even I, a man of limited olfactory capabilities at the best of times, could identify the aroma of hops and malt that accompanied them like a guilty conscience.
"Actually," the first cop said as she got into the front seat, "there are eight of us, not seven."
I shrugged. "I've only got seven seat-belts."
The van nearly rocked with laughter. "You don't need to worry about that," she said.
"I guess I won't then," I said, and put the vehicle into gear.
"What's your name?" she asked me, and offered hers — let's call her Beth — in return.
"Well Geoff, we really appreciate this. Do you want a beer?"
I grinned. "I'm on duty," I said.
"Well, you could come in for one when you drop us off."
"I'd best not," I said, "they need me back at the airport."
The ride took under 10 minutes, and the women refrained (I think) for opening any of the beers they claimed they had stuffed in their pockets.
Beth explained that they were here for a veritable convention of hockey-playing police — women and men. "Maybe we'll see you tomorrow night!"
She told me where they were from London* and how long they would be in town.
As we neared Elgin Street, I grinned and said, "I can't wait to get home and blog about this!"
"Actually," said Beth, "we're from Brampton*. No, Durham*. No! Toronto*!" and the van shook with hilarity.
I laughed and suggested they try skating on the canal when they weren't playing hockey. We discussed the high cost of living in Toronto* or Durham* or London* or Brampton* — quite a conversion in a very brief time, it seems looking back at that 10-15 minute ride — until we reached our destination.
I pulled up and the cops piled out of the back doors. Beth was true to her word and handed me a substantial tip as she exited, loudly calling her thanks.
And I, the doors now slammed shut, picked up my radio and let the office know I was on my way back to regular duty, feeling a complicated admixture of situational amusement, principled resentment and avaricious appreciation of a temporary hourly rate of about $60.00 per.
What do you all think? Should I have told the women to fuck themselves? Or should I have knuckled under to the not-too-serious threat implicit in the flashing of that badge? From a strictly situational perspective, the whole adventure was a welcome break from the routine and there is something I quite enjoy about the sound of a van full of happy young women, whatever their day-jobs.
*For reasons I haven't quite figured out, I am leaving their actual place of origin ambiguous. Instant hostage syndrome, anybody?
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