30 Cyber-Days in San Francisco 1.7

30 Smoke-Free Days in California

Zero Tolerance

I'm driving through the Sacramento Valley, listening to bible belt preachers on the radio cut with some patches of harp rap, thinking of Foucault in his Death Valley days, and smoking a Camel. Suddenly, a California State Trooper on his tech-customized Harley pops his flashing light and pulls me over. Fourteen antennas reaming from his Bladerunner helmet, no shades 'cause he's wearing contact lenses encrypted with the American flag, and with his left cheek tattooed, "It's all in the Good Book," the trooper pulls his sun-baked beef off the bike, stoops to wipe a speck of Interstate dust from his SM hi-top black leather boots, and steps over my rent-a-car with that peculiar "It's not just a good idea, it's the law" attitude.

I do an instant Catholic examination of (highway) conscience. Haven't broken the speed limit, my seat belt's tucked up tight to my belly, haven't been drinking for at least an hour, I've got no unconcealed weapons, my blood's drug-free and my mind is (pretty) pure, and unlike most of the teenage spirits and maybe some of the agri-business farmers in the Valley, I'm not sky-high on speed and whacked out on Prozac. I've got a cheery smile, an upright face, no cheesecake flesh, and a life-affirming attitude and I might be in the California midwest but I still believe in Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Techno-Culture, so help me God. But just to be sure, I reach in my pocket and pull out my rights: I've got a 1st amendment mouth, a 4th amendment vehicle, and a constitutional iron-clad guarantee to a zone of middle class white boy privacy.

Feeling pretty confident, I press down my window, and say: "What's the problem officer? I haven't been speeding."

He answers: "Speed's got nothing to do with it. Look what you're holding in your right hand."

So I say "Yeah," as I flick the ash from my Camel.

"Sir, there's zero tolerance for smoking in this town."

When I protest, "I'm just driving through," he hands me a $100 ticket and says: "I don't make the law - I just enforce it." And then, with just a little nod towards his Presbyterian past, he hands me a nicotine patch and smirks: "This should be enough to get you out of town."