John Scott Masthead
December 29 2010 at 07:06

Even before I saw that ad showing me what sort of people might love to meet me in jail, the thought of sharing a cell with criminals after being arrested for drunken driving has been enough to sober me up.

The human rights people object that the ad shows up prisoners in a bad light. I thought most of them were a pretty bad lot, anyway. I wouldn't want to meet any of them on a dark night or even on a cloudy afternoon, let alone in the prison showers.

Not that the prison staff are angels, either. According to a report by the Inspectorate of Correctional Services, warders murder even more prisoners than the overcrowded inmates do.

So these days you won't find Scott behind the wheel after a drink or two.

Fortunately he has a wife who hardly touches a drop. And whereas I always drive to parties, she always drives back. I still think I'm a better driver, give or take half a bottle of chenin blanc, but we have a sticker on the rear window that says: "A woman's place is in the driver's seat."

She concedes I am more skilled at nosing the car into tight spaces, and I concede she is better at reverse parking, mainly because she has a more supple neck and can see past the back-seat headrests. Her biggest compliment to my driving is "parked like a woman".

Charm, of course, is a woman's greatest strength. A year or two ago we were stopped at a road-block near Bot River. The officer asked to see Delia's driver's licence. She pulled out an old ID book, the kind that contained your driving licence, your gun-owner's licence, your blood group, your marital status, your immunisation certificate and your list of allergies.

Well, most of those, anyway.

"Lady, you are supposed to have the new, separate driver's licence," said the officer.

"What!" exclaimed Delia. "Why didn't anybody tell me? I'll certainly apply for one right away."

"I should really pull you off the road," said the officer.

But then she somehow switched the conversation to an imminent election, guessed what party he would be supporting, and said she looked forward to voting for that party, too. He ended by signing a temporary form that gave her time to acquire a new licence.

"Don't forget to vote," she cried, as we drove off. He gave us a friendly wave.

She also does things like overshoot a long line of cars and then cut in where she shouldn't, making me so embarrassed I slide under the dashboard on the passenger's seat side; flash at bad drivers and, when someone drives up too close behind, brakes and throws up both hands, indicating they should pull back. It works, because they usually do.

I just pray that people in whom she provokes road rage calm down when they see she's a mere woman.

The police aren't making any allowances for women these days. Statistics show that 40% of drivers arrested for drunken driving since December 1 were women. At least they run no risk of being thrown into a cell occupied by murderers and rapists.

A doctor friend of ours was. He argued with the police when stopped while driving home from a drinks party. Never do that. Your attitude should be "yes sir, no sir, three bags full, sir".

He was released after midnight, his virtue still intact, but severely traumatised.

Like me, he is now a reformed dry driver.


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