Do you know who I am?

Walker County Messenger - - Front Page - David Car­roll

Re­cently, there were news re­ports of a Chat­tanooga City Coun­cil­woman who ap­peared to be us­ing her po­si­tion to in­flu­ence a po­lice of­fi­cer dur­ing a traf­fic stop.

Ac­cord­ing to video of the en­counter, the elected of­fi­cial, who was a front seat pas­sen­ger in her car, could not pro­vide proof of in­sur­ance or reg­is­tra­tion. In ad­di­tion, the man who was driv­ing had no li­cense.

Dur­ing the traf­fic stop, the Coun­cil­woman in­sisted the of­fi­cer con­tact the Chief of Po­lice. The cop said no, so the Coun­cil­woman said she would do it her­self.

The en­counter re­called sev­eral in­ci­dents in which well-known peo­ple re­sponded to po­lice in­quiries with the “Do You Know Who I Am?” de­fense. That may have worked in the pre-so­cial me­dia days, or be­fore of­fi­cers started record­ing video with their body-cams. But nowa­days, it usu­ally ends up back­fir­ing on the celebrity.

I don’t know how the Chat­tanooga video be­came pub­lic, but word prob­a­bly spread that a politi­cian was try­ing to throw some weight around. The news me­dia took it from there. These days, if you mis­be­have at a pub­lic place, or in the pres­ence of a cop, you’re prob­a­bly be­ing recorded. The Coun­cil­woman may not have known it that night, but she does now.

Since my ca­reer in broad­cast­ing has given me a lit­tle recog­ni­tion, I guess I could say, “Do You Know Who I Am?” when try­ing to get seated at a fancy restau­rant. But so far, that has not been an is­sue at my usual high-end din­ing op­tions: Burger King, Hardee’s and Shoney’s.

There was one traf­fic stop, sev­eral years ago. I did not pull out my celebrity card. (Ac­tu­ally, I don’t have one. I do how­ever, have a Block­buster card. I don’t clean out my wal­let very of­ten).

I was twenty years old, and was the morn­ing dee­jay on KZ-106, the pow­er­ful Chat­tanooga rock sta­tion. I had just got­ten off work, and was starv­ing. (When you’re twenty, hunger pains hit ev­ery fif­teen min­utes. You eat a huge burger, and never gain a pound. Af­ter you turn forty, you sniff an onion ring and go up two shirt sizes).

It just so hap­pened that a new Wendy’s had opened that day in Red Bank, a mere five-minute drive from the ra­dio sta­tion. I had looked for­ward to this, much as a child an­tic­i­pates Santa’s ar­rival. I had never eaten a Wendy’s burger, so I con­sid­ered it my duty to be among the first in line.

Ev­i­dently, I was a lit­tle too ex­cited about that square burger. Shortly af­ter I turned on to Sig­nal Moun­tain Road, I saw the dreaded blue light flash­ing in my rear view mir­ror. I didn’t even try to pre­tend he was chas­ing some­one else. I was as guilty as Opie when he was tak­ing credit for mak­ing all A’s, even though Miss Crump had made a mis­take. Un­like Opie how­ever, I was not par­tic­u­larly cute, and I didn’t have any writ­ers to cre­ate an end­ing in which the cop would give me a hug and play his gui­tar on the front porch.

“Do you know how fast you’re go­ing?” the man in blue asked. “More than the speed limit, I know,” I said. As I handed him my driver’s li­cense, he stud­ied it for a mo­ment. “David Car­roll, David Car­roll,” he re­peated. “Where do I know that name from?”

“Well,” I replied, “I’m on the ra­dio, you might have heard me…” He cut me off. “Wait a minute! You’re on KZ-106, right?” “Yes sir, that’s me.” He flashed a wide grin.

“I take my daugh­ter to school ev­ery morn­ing, and you’re all we lis­ten to!” he ex­claimed. As my head started to swell, he went on. “We think you’re funny, we like them jokes you tell, and how you make fun of the news.” I could al­ready en­vi­sion this speed­ing ticket be­ing torn up and swept away by the wind.

“Hey lis­ten,” he said. “Reckon you could play her a song in the morn­ing?” To avoid a ticket, I would have played a duet by Tiny Tim and Yoko Ono. “Ab­so­lutely,” I said. Then he ripped a page out of his notepad, and asked for an autograph. “Michelle will love this,” he said. “She won’t be­lieve I met you.”

I was just about to go on my merry way. “One more thing,” he said. I started to comb my hair, fig­ur­ing he wanted to grab a cam­era to cap­ture a me­mento of our friend­ship. He then handed me a ci­ta­tion, and still smil­ing broadly, he said, “You’ll need to come to Red Bank City Court on Mon­day at 2:30. Be sure to bring sixty-two dol­lars in cash. It was great to meet you!”

As promised, I played a song for his daugh­ter the next day. Maybe you’ve heard it. “I Fought the Law, and the Law Won.”

David Car­roll, a Chat­tanooga news an­chor, is the au­thor of the new book “Vol­un­teer Bama Dawg,” a col­lec­tion of his best sto­ries, avail­able at Chat­tanoogaRa­, or by send­ing $23 to David Car­roll Book, 900 White­hall Road, Chat­tanooga, TN 37405. You may con­tact David at [email protected]

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