Winter Windshield Fluid

Beware Of Junk In The Trunk

A young Tank about the time the incident happened. My, how time flies …

Having been a cop for over 27 years in my previous life, people routinely ask for stories involving danger, high-speed chases, felony arrests and shootouts. Sure, these things happen — albeit rarely, but what most cops remember are the funny shenanigans happening daily to relieve boredom. After all, remembering the funny stories is a lot more pleasant than remembering the drastic ones.

Being exposed to society’s worst offerings changes you, usually in the form of a well-developed warped sense of humor. Combined with lulls in “calls for service” activity, it’s the perfect recipe for pranks, especially during the midnight shift.

It wasn’t uncommon to find dead raccoons or possums in the backseat of fleet vehicles (sometimes they resurrected from the dead causing quite the fright). Another prank involved turning on a shift-mates defroster to full blast and filling the vents with the little round pieces of punched paper from the desk clerk’s hole puncher. When the unsuspecting officer turned their car on, they were met with an explosion of confetti.

Lights Out

One of my best stories wasn’t even an intended prank. It just happened and happen it did. One of the more annoying calls officers handle is “check the need for traffic control” when traffic signals go from power outages. Sometimes the lights reset … sometimes, you’re stuck there for hours.

The catalyst for this story involves yours truly. I only had a few years on and was stuck at an intersection for hours. Being young, I had the bladder of a racehorse. It was nothing to go a 10-hour shift without using the bathroom. But sometimes you get caught off guard and really need to go. This was one of those times.

A summer thunderstorm swept through, knocking out power for most of the district during rush hour of course. This meant everyone had an intersection to work with no sign of relief.

Hokey Pokey

You know it’s getting bad when you start hopping on one foot while directing traffic. The drivers think you’re trying to make them laugh — little do they know the true cause.

After a couple of hours, things were getting desperate. Since it was raining, I was wearing my police slicker, a shin-length raincoat with slots cut in the sides for your holstered gun. The other slot lets you retrieve something from your weak-hand pocket. The gears were turning …

You never know what solution is in an opened bottle.

Critical Thinker?

Maybe if I stuck my left hand through the slicker slot, I could unzip and relieve myself? No one would be the wiser, would they? The thought of pressure washing the inside of my slicker was unsavory after thinking about it. I thought some more.

Working construction every summer during high school and college I learned a lot at the job sites. Things like never opening a partially full pop bottle, or heaven forbid, a 5-gallon bucket in the basement of a house under construction. You can imagine the horror.

These flashbacks came in handy, helping me come up with a solution … in more ways than one. Read on if you dare …

I remembered I had a near-empty windshield fluid bottle in my trunk. It was perfect with its heavy-duty, wide-mouthed construction! It even had a convenient handle on the side.

I thought if I put the bottle under my raincoat and held the handle through the slot, I could relieve myself, and no one would be the wiser. When finished, I’d just stroll over to my cruiser, cap the bottle and put it back in the trunk. The perfect plan. And it was … until the vehicle inspection 6 months later.

Pop Your Trunk

Yearly inspections are a pain in the you know what. But they’re necessary. It forces everyone to make sure they have all their equipment and that it’s functional and in good shape. It was January — the start of a new year — and our station lieutenant (LT) was a spic-n-span, neat-n-clean, bright-n-shiny kind of guy. Everything was going well until he told me to pop my trunk. No biggie. I had all my equipment, and it was in good shape.

I Spy …

“Hoover, what’s that?” he asked.

Tucked back near the spare tire was a white cap poking up. I looked. It was the windshield fluid bottle from the past spring. Holy hell! It must’ve been ripe by now. I’m surprised it hadn’t exploded from the pressure of fermentation and ammonia gases.

“Looks like windshield fluid, LT” I said.

“Why’s it green?” he asked.

Thinking quickly, I responded with a straight face, “Winter formula, sir! Supposed to melt ice.”

“Perfect! I’m low. You can get more from the garage on your next fill-up,” he said, and then walked away with my special bottle.

Urine Trouble?

The next day, I saw the lieutenant. Oh boy! Did he figure out what happened?

He said,” That windshield fluid works great, but boy does it smell. Must have a lot of ammonia in it. Cut right through the frost though.”

About a week later, the same lieutenant stopped me and said the garage didn’t know anything about a “winter formula” windshield fluid.”

I started laughing and confessed the whole story, which made him laugh. As I walked away, I said, “Thanks for understanding, LT. I thought you’d be pissed …” He stopped, turned around, shook his head and walked on off. These are the kind of stories most cops remember …

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