“Good evening, Officer, can I help you?” 

At a time in my life when my kids should have been a constant source of teenage angst, they defied the norm. Rather than loitering around shopping malls after or during school hours and being rebellious when asked by the authorities to ‘move on’, they stepped into the role of responsible adults. Meanwhile, I transitioned from being the grown-up to being the kid in the family. The moment of truth hit me square in the face when Adam, acquired his first car, a Nissan Sunny, affectionately known as The Sunny. .

Picking up Mum ….

It wasn’t even a classic case of role reversal when Adam began picking me up from various places. After all, I hadn’t been able to pick the kids up from anywhere for the past nine years due to my lack of eyesight, which naturally resulted in not having a car.  

The party was over …

The first time Adam  had to pick me up at night, was on a certain New Year’s Eve. I was out celebrating with a gaggle of old gal friends, Suddenly the clock struck 12 and it was New Year’s Day. The party was over and it was time to head home. Relief washed over me  like a wave when I remembered my little boy was coming to pick me up. Oh what joy not having to wrangle with hundreds of rowdy revellers lining up on the taxi rank jostling for  a ride home in a taxi that smelt like of mix of vomit and regret.  And not forgetting a crabby driver.

Exciting times …

I waited outside the restaurant as planned when lo and behold, down the street came Adam in The Sunny with the shiny iridescent red P plates glowing under the bright street lights of North Hobart.  As he pulled up to the curb,  there was Hannah waving enthusiastically from the front passenger seat. I could hardly contain my excitement as I jumped into the backseat with Sarah, and off we zoomed towards home.  

The breathalyser …

We hadn’t gone far when we spotted the flashing lights of the law, conducting breathalyser tests. We were flagged down, and Adam, the ever responsible young lad, rolled down the window in anticipation. . 

“Good evening, Officer, can I help you?”  inquired Adam, all politeness and poise, to the baby-face cop who was approaching.

“Blow into this,” demanded the officer, trying to sound tough, a far cry from Adam’s polite demeanor. It was probably the rookie cop’s first gig. But it was also the first time, Adam had ever picked up his mother at night and had to do a breathalyser test.

I felt such a surge of pride witnessing his maturity in handling the situation.

Been drinking tonight?

Long before this incident occurred, it must have been pre – 1993, when I still possessed a valid driver’s license, I was flagged down for a random breath test. The cops had set up a breathalyser checkpoint on a discreet street close to our home. The kids were mere toddlers, sitting in the back seat strapped into their car seats.

I rolled down the window and met the piercing gaze of the policeman who simply said, .“been drinking tonight’.

I assumed it was a question, so I said, “no Officer”.

That’s what my voice said. My mind said I wish.

Then he  peered into the back seat and saw the three little faces.

“You’re right”, he said, gesturing for us to proceed. “You can go”

It was nice of him to move us on. Unfortunately, I never got the opportunity to blow in the bag.

A reflection

Reflecting on that encounter now, it strikes me as prime example of outdated stereotypes like the belief that mothers with young children wouldn’t drink and drive. However, in today’s world, that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only that, but It’s also unlikely that the police would overlook a woman at a breathalyser checkpoint simply because she had children in the car.

To find out more about the history of random breath testing, please go to the following websites.


Image – thankyou to the following website for the featured image.




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