Journey From Hell Part 1

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

This is a two-parter, as two separate delays made a trip from Scottsdale, Arizona to Tonopah, Nevada, a distance of 518 miles and about 8 hours drive time, go nearly 700 miles and 12 fucking hours! The two things are so unrelated, it makes sense to put them in separate blogs.

I left Scottsdale at about 8:00 this morning, and was making incredible time, since the highway speed limit in Arizona is 75 MPH. I was about 30 miles from Kingman, the most northeastern city in Arizona. I saw a police car and decided to slow down a bit. About a mile down the road, I noticed this same police car now seemed to be following me. Sure enough, the flashing lights came on. I stayed calm, as I couldn’t imagine what I was doing wrong.

When you’re pretty sure you’re not doing anything wrong, that’s when you think “OK, I’m fucked,” and if the cops are anything less than reasonable, that’s gonna be the story. I stayed in the car, let them come to me and tell me what’s up. They were young, and the main guy asked me immediately if I knew what I’d done wrong. I truly didn’t, and said so. Even after he explained it, I really didn’t understand, but the nearest I can figure is if there is roadworks or any other obstruction in the shoulder (in this case a police car), the driver is supposed to move to the next lane if he can, and if he can’t, to slow down considerably. This sounded rather petty to me, but I figured if I objected in the least, I’d be digging a deeper hole.

As I was fishing out my driver’s license, and showing them the rental car agreement, I also mentioned that I live in England, have not been in Arizona for about 15 years (my last gig there is a story in itself, perhaps another day), and the officers did mention it was put into national law about eight years ago. Telling them I’d lived in UK for 12 years helped me a little there. Still, I was very unnerved by their presence, and my hands were uncontrollably shaking. This prompted the usual line of questioning about whether I’d been drinking or using recreational drugs, running the entire gamut of substances, as well as asking if I was under medication, or if I’d had any recent head injuries.

My shaking continued through that basic interrogation, and I would have to take the most grueling sobriety test I’ve ever had, though my clear case of nerves was probably why they decided to give me the full-on test. There was the “keep your head still and follow the movement of the pen with your eyes only” test, which seemed to last about 10 minutes. This was followed by “Do nine heel-to-toe steps, do a turn, then do nine more, and say each number aloud.” Those two tests went mostly fine. Then there was the “Lift one leg and count 1-1000, 2-1000.” I knew I’d screw that one up, as my balance is crap, but felt a little better when the cop demonstrated, and he kept losing HIS balance. There was the ABC’s, and the cop added, “And DON’T SING!” I was fine on that, as well as counting backwards from 18 to 5. The only other one that scared me was tilting the head back, closing the eyes, then raising whichever finger was instructed from my side to the tip of my nose. That one is VERY intimidating, but I was grateful to have a big nose, as it made an easier target.

Eventually, the cops decided I was OK, and what made me absolutely sure I was going to escape this one unscathed was when they asked what I was doing over here. When I told them I’d been doing stand-up at the Laugh Factory in Scottsdale, the main guy said, “I was BORN in Scottsdale.” The guy’s partner started asking general questions about what I do, and when I told him I combine music and comedy, he asked, “Oh, do you have any video?” I said, “Certainly, go to and there’s video there.” He went to his iPhone, and checked it out while the main guy was asking me other pertinent questions. About three minutes later, the partner said, “Wow, that’s really some good stuff!” At that point I knew I was home free. I was only given a warning, no fine, no points on my license, hallelujah.

The main cop handed me the paperwork to sign, and the scrawl that came out looked like a five-year-old’s, as I now was excited about being able to go. As our conversation suddenly became totally informal, I even told the cops I’d probably be blogging about this one, but told them I would give them good marks for while they did the painstaking process, they showed a good amount of patience and compassion. I will say that now, for even when they were doing the serious business, they also gave me every opportunity to make sure I didn’t screw up.

This had a happy ending, but I can’t help but think of a legendary Comic Road Story. A junkie comic (let’s call him Fred) was working Richmond, Virginia with a naive rookie comic, whom we’ll call Mikey. After the gig, Fred asked Mikey to come with him while they went to a house in the deepest ghetto of the city, where Fred had planned to score. A cop car pulls up to them as they’re on the street and the two cops start harassing them, asking what they’re doing here. Mikey, who doesn’t even know the purpose of the mission, starts babbling, “Really, officer, we’re just comics visiting a friend, we’re not trying to make any trouble.” The cops aren’t really buying it, and Fred still hasn’t said a word, as he may have been carrying a wad of cash. After more blathering from Mikey, the more uptight of the cops says, “OK, you’re comics? Tell us a joke, then.” Fred replies, “So these two cops are blowing each other…” The less vocal of the cops apparently bursts out laughing, making any further questioning meaningless.

Thank god my cops didn’t ask me to tell them a joke, or I might have flashed on Fred’s reply. So that took me to lunchtime. There’s much more to my journey, but because there’s still 250 miles to Reno (where I open tomorrow for the Laugh Factory at the Silver Legacy Casino), and there may well be other obstacles along the way, I’ll finish this story when I’m finally checked in.

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