I have been accused of making up good stories for good fodder, but I assure you that these are real life events. You can’t make this stuff up. This week is no exception. The below incident is a real life event that happened only last Saturday morning.
So there I was: Standing in front of a police car on the side of the road in downtown Essex with both hands high in the air, legs spread apart and being “patted down” by an officer for a weapon. My wife was standing next to the car and my kids were peering out the back.
Traffic was driving by, but at an ever so slowly pace as the curious occupants reveled in their chance to see a real life “Bad Boys” scene. You could almost hear them talking about the “derelict suspect” as they tried to make sense of the event.
“What did he do?”
“He looks not right?”
“Lock the doors, Martha!”
After an awkward moment of me nodding to a slow moving passersby that I did not recognize, but whom I recognized recognized me, the officer escorted me to the police car and motioned for me to get in the back seat.
To my surprise, there was no padding in the back of a police car. The seat was made of a hard plastic. Apparently it makes cleaning up much easier and they are unconcerned about the ergonomic comfort of their passengers.
As the cop quickly jumped into traffic by pulling a sharp U-turn, I slid around the backseat like a fried egg on Teflon. The front seat was protected by a metal separation divider which rather purposefully steels the foot space from back seat occupants.
My winter boots were wedged sideways. My knees were forced up to my chest. My butt (already lacking adequate cushioning) was instantly sore from the hard surface. To further add misery, my head and shoulders were slumping down as I fought the seat’s very steep ski-slope pitched angle. It took all my effort to not fall into the narrow crevasse in front of me.
Health tip #1: Do not make a habit of sitting in the back of a police car. (Here are some proper sitting postures.)
This was not the start of my weekend that I had in mind. Now before you go jumping to any unwanted conclusions about why I was in the back of the police car, let me end all suspense by saying it wasn’t criminal.
We started the morning by planning a family hike at . After feeding the little ones and catching some of NPR’s Cartalk, we were all packed. Kids were in the car - all with hats, mittens, and coats (quite an accomplishment in our family) and we had both child carriers that my wife and I would wear as we went on our morning hike in Hamilton.
Health tip #2: I encourage babies to be held and supported as much as possible when out and about. Try and have them not spend a lot of time in that car seat carrier. It will be better for them and you. It helps to
1) Reinforce the bond between child and parent
2) Allow for greater mobility and freedom for the child while feeling nurtured
3) Is better for your back than lugging around the awkward baby seat.
In a last moment stroke of genius, my wife realizes that we will be passing the town dump and decides to grab the garbage bag from the kitchen. We were out the door and on our way. And here is where our story gets interesting.
Do you know how when a person quotes some unusual horrifying fact like, “90 percent of all car accidents happen within two miles of your house” it causes you to wonder if the statistic is really true or if anyone actually did a formal study or if it is true that 50 percent of all statistics are made up?
Well here are a few more: ‘“93 percent of all flat tires happen on a busy dangerous road”, “42 percent of all flat tires around the world this year occurred on the causeway in Essex,” “100 percent of all dads driving minivans full of kids and smelly garbage will manage to hit the largest, deepest, sharpest pothole in the land and blowout both the front and back tires instantly” and “only 7 percent of all readers who started this article remained interested enough to make it this far.”
That’s right, I managed to hit a very large pothole and flatten two of the four new snow tires on our car. I didn’t get 30 feet further.
“You didn’t see that?” my wife asked, exclaimed and accused.
Relationship/Health tip #3: When in an accident caused by the negligence of your spouse, do not point out that the accident was caused by the negligence of your spouse.
What to do? Unhappy family. Unhappy car. Very unhappy garbage!
“You call AAA,” I said.
“While you...?” my wife asked.
“Flag down a car,” I answered “Get a ride back to the house and get our other car. You stay here with the kids.”
Three cars hadn’t yet passed when one of Essex’s Finest happen to be driving by and pulled over to assist me and my family. First he made sure that we were all safe and then he called in the pothole to the state (Route 133 is state managed), assessed the car and expedited our tow truck.
He agreed to give me a ride to my house a mile up the street. But before he did, he said “I’ve got to pat you down for my own safety before I put you in the car.” This accounts for the above mentioned scene.
Health tip #4: An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.
The officer was taking time to make sure that he was safe, i.e. healthy. He was taking precaution to avoid danger and ensure safety. Isn’t this the same thing we do every time we choose to exercise to ward off the dangers of obesity, eat healthy to ward off the dangers of heart disease and keep our spines flexible and strong to ward off the dangers of injury, arthritis or pain?
Taking measures to be safe is another way of saying that you are taking measures to ensure health. And that is why, from now on, I will try to be more observant of the roads that I am traveling and avoid potholes.
Truth be told, the whole adventure was easier and more comfortable than the drama I have portrayed here. We got the car towed. We got the tires replaced. And we even managed to go for our hike. Thank you Essex police for your help, hospitality and protection.
And yes, we did finally make it to the dump.
Dr. Jerry Gould is a local chiropractor in Hamilton. When not at his office, he can be found at the playground with his four daughters, riding his bike around the North Shore, or writing stories about Elephants in an effort to follow his bliss. Read more at straightspine.com.