I just got back from a week’s vacation in sunny and scenic Bethany Beach. For those of you who’ve never been, Bethany is a very pleasant little ocean community in Delaware that mostly caters to families and couples. Unlike the more socially exciting neighboring communities of Dewey Beach and Rehoboth, Bethany Beach has purposely made itself a quieter destination for people who want to avoid the massive crowds or the presence of drunken college-age students. Indeed, Bethany’s main boardwalk boasts little more than a board and a walk, and a small shopping area which could easily be covered in a few hours, if not a quick fifteen minutes.
A friend of mine had rented a beach house for a week, and several of us went down to help him populate the rooms. And though we all got along wonderfully, there were several siblings among the guests that managed to cause chaos and drama on more than one occasion. Obviously the arguments were rooted in some deep-seeded anger between the family members, and it became increasingly uncomfortable to be around them as the week advanced.
One afternoon, to avoid this type of hysteria, I decided to take a solo trip to nearby Rehoboth Beach, where I could explore the many great stores and restaurants in peace. So I hopped into my PT Cruiser convertible, put the top down, and roared down the highway toward my destination, the radio blasting some great tunes as I drove along.
But once I got into Rehoboth, I was astonished at how crowded the town was, and how few parking spaces I could actually find. The other issue was the matter of money to put into the parking meters. Apparently, they only took quarters, which I was fresh out of. So I decided to try one of the side streets to see if maybe there was any free parking I could take advantage of.
On one particular street, I passed an empty space and needed to do a U-turn if I wanted to park there. As there weren’t any other cars coming down either side of the street, I was easily able to go through the U-turn process without much difficulty. Although because of the narrowness of the street, I needed to go into reverse and forward several times before I was actually able to make the rather sharp turn. Still, there were no cars behind or in front of me, so I wasn’t under pressure to perform this maneuver with any kind of haste.
No sooner had I accomplished my task, than I saw a police car flashing its lights and coming at me from the front. Naturally, I pulled over to the side so he could pass on my left, which he did rather quickly. I also rolled down my window to ask a local resident if it was okay to park in the blank spot I’d found. Unfortunately it was not; I would need to buy a permit to park in that particular area. Crap! That would mean I would still need to find either another parking area. But as I started to pull out to continue my search, the police car that had passed me before was suddenly speeding up behind me, with his siren blaring and lights flashing.
My heart stopped, as it was clearly evident now that the cop was after me. I’m sure you can imagine the many thoughts that began flashing through my head. Had he just seen me do a U-turn on the empty side street? Were u-turns illegal in Rehoboth? Or had I done something else that was wrong? As I pulled over to the side, the cop also pulled over and stopped his car. And that’s when a second police car came roaring around the corner in front of me with his siren blaring and lights flashing. That’s also when I began feeling rather sick. What could I have possibly done to justify this kind of police attention? Was my car similar to some car that was recently in a robbery or domestic squabble?
As the police car stopped in front of me, I began to feel my world closing in. The plot of “North by Northwest” suddenly popped into my head, as I recounted how Cary Grant was mistaken for some kind of secret agent, turning his world completely upside down in a matter of minutes. And now the same thing was happening to me. I was obviously being mistaken for some kind of wanted criminal, because there was no other reason why these two police cars would need to block me in from both angles.
I began to feel in my pocket for my wallet, hoping that when they realized I wasn’t Public Enemy Number #1, they might go a little easier on me. Taking my wallet out as quickly as I could, my hands shaking as if I had Parkinson’s Disease, I extracted the license and rolled down the window to confront my fate. And that’s when something weird happened. As I glanced into my rearview mirror to watch the policeman get out of his car, I noticed that he was not running toward my car, but rather in the opposite direction. Then the other police car that had parked in front of me suddenly went into gear again, and drove past me in the direction the other cop was running.
As I sat there in my car, wondering what to do next, I noticed two college age guys standing across the street watching the whole proceedings. They each had a beer in their hand, and were no doubt wondering what was going on as much as I was. But when the cops went in the other direction, and didn’t seem to be after me at all, I simply shrugged at the two guys in bewilderment. This caused them to burst out laughing so hard, that I’m sure I must have turned a few shades of red. As I sped away down the street, I noticed them still laughing and pointing, no doubt excited that they now had a new story to share with all their drinking buddies at the next Frat party. “You should have seen this loser in a PT Cruiser the other day…” Ugh!
After that, I managed to find a parking space, and kept a rather low profile as I walked through Rehoboth. God knows I didn’t want any more trouble to contend with. That night I told the story to my housemates in Bethany, only to cause yet another brawl between the siblings who couldn’t seem to agree as to who was the better driver in their family. Instead of witnessing this rather heated exchange, I decided to go to bed. I’d had enough drama for one day.
But that’s just me. How about you? Have you ever been in a situation like this before?