Oddly, the Chattanooga police started clearing the bridge. Now I was there just to cheer on our American Idol, Lauren Alaina, but there were parents planning on seeing their kids in the marching bands. This all seemed odd to me as I had thought they would probably want some spectators to cheer on the parade as it passed and to hear the marching band. The police were courteous but persistent in herding the milling crowd off the end of the bridge to where it met Frazier Avenue. My first impression was that it might be a safety issue. The bridge is very old and perhaps they were worried it might collapse. Better them than me, I always say. But that was not the end of it. They then proceeded to herd the crowd off Frazier Avenue and into the park. Now the park was where Lauren was to end up but there would be time to walk down there after she passed. I really did not understand this need to secretly sneak her into the park without anyone seeing her. I mean, it was suppose to be a parade, with two marching bands.
The next challenge proved to be my downfall. A police sergeant pointed at me from across the road and left no doubt that I was not to go any further. I asked Teri and Lily to jump out at that point figuring I was going to have to head back and try another entrance. I signaled the sergeant to come over so I could at least try to get through. I don't think this was a smart move. Begrudgingly he came over and I was actually surprised that this guy did not pummel me with his baton or something. I heard later that the police were all volunteers and were not being paid to be there. That was really nice of them and might have accounted for their lack of patience and overall nasty attitudes. They were probably not fans of American Idol either. I did explain my plight and need to return the little funny car to their location which was right past that barricade. Didn't work and I was happy to get the heck out of there.
Fortunately, Teri and Lilly had already gotten out of the car and I was alone heading back up the hill. A large rotund, red-faced, officer hurried across my path with a single hand raised. I am not sure but on reflection, the other hand may have been on his revolver. At this point I was focused on how I would get this little funny car back to where I rented it before my hour was up. Because of this, I did not see the landslide of trouble I had unknowingly initiated.
This new officer was a little upset to say the least. I was really glad I had dropped off Teri and Lily in case I had to make a run for it. This guy proceeded to read be the riot act and I thought his big red face might explode. He was upset because I had run the barricade, totally ignored the police blockade, tramped all over their authority and disrespected them. I didn't mean to, really. It turns out that the first officer had sort of bent the truth just a little bit. Evidently this red-faced officer was his boss and he had not wanted to incur his wrath and frankly, I understood why. The first guy had evidently informed this new red-faced chubby boss guy that I had blown right pass him as he tried to throw himself in front of my little speeding funny buggy. I am sure that, at the time, the three of us in the lime green funny car posed a very menacing profile and he probably thought we were trying to get past so we could blend in with all the traffic in order to escape justice, or something like that.
Once I realized what was happening, I glanced up the hill and my heart when out to this poor fellow who caused this hell to be unleashed on me. In that moment of compassion I humbly looked into that red, bloated with anger, face and expressed my undying sorrow for the misunderstanding and chocked up the entire incident to a simple (Cool Hand Luck) "failure to communicate". If the red faced man had had mirrored sunglasses, I might have laughed. I was actually told to, "Never show my face again". I was finally freed to head on out of the park with my tail between my legs. As I passed the first officer, I planned on letting him know that I had covered for him but he would not even make eye contact with me. That said it all and I knew he was ashamed for his lack of gumption.
My ordeal was not over. I was now faced with a much weakened little funny car battery pack. Chattanooga is a hilly place. In fact, this section of the city was known as Hill City at some point in the past. When I rented the car, I was instructed to avoid hills. He explained that the "warp drive" on their buggies just couldn't take it. Well, all the streets were blocked for the parade and I did not feel lucky enough to push that envelope again. The only way to get to the other side of the park was to loop way up Market Street to nearly the highest point in North Chattanooga and head down Tremont by way of Mississippi. It was a gamble but really my only move. Long story short, I made it. I guess it was about a two mile jaunt and fortunately the last half was all downhill. When I approached the police blockade this time, I took on an extremely humble demeanor and was able to point to where I rented the little funny car. They were far more considerate and let me through without use of batons or guns or attitude. I returned the car with one minute to spare, no harm, no foul. Perhaps that is not totally true, I will have to wear a hoodie from now on in Chattanooga so the red faced officer will not recognize me.
Chattanooga did proud with Lauren Alaina when she finally arrived. Last Thursday we found that she had made it to the final round. Those kids who compete on American Idol all work so hard and are so talented. They are all winners to me and I hope all their dreams come true.