Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Freedom, delicious freedom

Matt Welch:
One of the last quirky examples of aberrant, outrageous-sounding in-state freedom -- Montana's permissiveness of cracking open a frosty behind the wheel -- is going by the wayside, after lawmakers caved to the federal guvmint's threat to withhold $5 million in highway funding.

Being exactly 100km from the Montana border, this is something I actually have some personal experience with. In 2003, I was doing a bunch of work at the Coutts/Sweetgrass border crossing, which you've probably never heard of, but is I believe the biggest crossing between Surrey, BC and Sarnia, ON. About 30 minutes south of the border is the Four Corners Bar, which architecturally resembles a body shop, excepting the large "EAT" sign painted on the side facing the highway.

The happy hour special is three 20-oz. cans of Bud for $5 (tremendous!). When you order it, you actually get one can, and two wooden poker chips; the chips can be redeemed for beers even after happy hour, or on another day (tremendous-er!).

Got done a little early in Coutts one day, and a pipefitter gave me two of these chips and recommended that I check the place out. I figured I had a bit of time before I got in too much trouble at home, so I did.

(Sidebar - fastest border crossing ever:
U.S. Customs Officer: "Where ya headed?"

Me (holding up wooden chip): "Going to have a beer."

Officer: [silent wave-through, c/w slight smile and head shake]

Good times.)

So I go to this bar and have a beer. I'm finishing it up, and the bartender looks at the other wooden chip in front of me and says, "Ready for another?" I say no, I have to be getting back to Lethbridge. So the guy says, "Well why don't you just take it with you?" And I say, "Huh?"

He explains that it's perfectly legal. I'm usually reluctant to accept legal advice from a bartender, especially one who is himself drinking a beer at 4:30 in the afternoon, but here I take it. I walk out of the bar with my Bud tall-boy, start the car, put it in drive, and crack the beer, and take a long swig.

Do you know how good that feels? Engaging in a perfectly safe activity, with no fear that a cop will charge me under a law that exists solely because it "sends the right message"?

That might be the most I've ever enjoyed a beer. And I find it regrettable that people in the future will be denied that same enjoyment, in the name of national standards and cultural attitudes.


At 6:28 p.m., Blogger Nancy said...

When I was in Florida last month, my nephew did the same thing: He cracked a beer at my sister's house, then brought it with him, the way you or I would bring a coffee. It seems civilized, yet scary at the same time.

My nephew claims he never gets pulled over by the police. Never. In Ontario, I'd so much as THINK about bringing a beer with me as I drove down a side street, and they'd have me pulled over, out of the car and breathalized before you could

At 10:15 p.m., Blogger Jay said...

On our return home from a friend's wedding in Red Deer, my buddies and I rolled through the Coutts crossing in the dead of night. After telling the sentry that we were planning to continue driving to Fargo ND non stop, followed up by a run to Ann Arbor MI and though to Ottawa he just waved us by like we were a bunch of deranged loons.

I regret "rushing" home and wished we had stopped for brew somewhere. Open cans + "reasonable and prudent daytime speed limit" would have been too much to ask at the same time, I guess.


At 4:58 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic idea! We should also let people run down the street and shoot automatic guns in the air and only charge them if they happen to hit someone. Afterall, if they manage to miss everyone they no harm done, right?

At 12:50 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "drive with a beer in your hand" was the second hand smoke argument of yesterday. People react as though the ground is going to open up and swallow them. Bizarre.

What they seldom tell you is that one beer doesn't even bring the average bloodstream within a whiff of .08.

You aren't "driving drunk" with a beer in your hand.

Heresy, I know. Deal with it.



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