Monday, December 18

The cat that swallowed the Canary

Halfway to Big Bear yesterday morning i realized i had forgotten my tire chains, i don't necessarily need it because i roll 4-Wheel Drive, but on a snowy day like this CHP requires chains on all vehicles and at least the 4-wheelers to carry one just in case conditions become adverse (which is yet to happen in all my years of Snowboarding). Having driven more than 50 miles already, although it was still very early, i didn't feel like driving back around. I had to think very quickly of alternative ways...

Alternate ways of course is a relative term here because there really aren't any alternate ways to get around the CHP guy at the Checkpoint. You would need a pretty big diversion anyway. Since driving back home was out of the question, the 2nd best thing to do was to buy one at a local store but since i was not familiar with the San Bernardino area it wasn't a practical choice, i could end up driving around aggravating myself more. I realized the only choice i had without wasting any time and inflicting more self aggravation was buying one from the CHP Checkpoint, they usually have a couple of guys selling and installing tire chains for a price so steep you wouldn't believe it. The last time i needed their services was about 7 years ago, i was driving a rental van and the chains broke no more than 100 feet from the checkpoint-- they charged me $30 to fix 1 single broken chain link, something i could have fixed myself with a pair of household pliers... Anyway, when i was getting near the checkpoint i tried to recall what actually occurs when driving through a Tire Chain checkpoint on such days. First they do a visual check for installed tire chains and when none is installed they presume your vehicle a 4-Wheeler but would make sure you're actually carrying Chains, again in case the conditions worsen. From my many years of experience they always asked to see it. This meant there was no tricking the CHP on duty... Then like a switch-- my inquisitiveness kicked in. I don't actually recall a single occasion where the CHP on duty asking to see the contents of the Tire Chain case, this anomaly consequently-- inspired my brilliance. Deep in thought i asked myself "What if i pretended my Emergency Tool Kit-- a set of Tire Chains?", its about the same size as my Tire Chain case. BRILLIANT!!!!!

Serious faced-- i rolled my window down and declared my vehicle a 4-Wheel drive-- so deserving a free pass-- to the CHP on duty who had this hardened face and didn't look very happy being stationed at the CheckPoint in 11 degree weather with a wind chill of -20, i estimate. This didn't inspire hope of getting through the CheckPoint scott-free. In a deep monotone voice, he dutifully asked if i was carrying chains, and like i have done so many many times before i showed 'The Case', only this time containing Road Cones, Jumper-Cables, Flat-Tire Kit, First-Aid and other emergency stuff instead of Tire Chains. The officer remained stoic as he eyed my Case, but luckily he waved me off without probable doubt like he has done many many times before. I actually did not have a speech planned as to why i was flashing an Emergency Road Kit instead of Chains in case the hardened face CHP noticed the somewhat incongruous looking Case... Man let me tell ya, I couldn't stop smiling as i drove off, I must have looked like the Cat that swallowed the canary. Ingenious though, isn't it?


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