“Saint Patrick’s day Hell!“
That was the headline on the front page. There was a photo too. It showed a man, wearing a Leprechaun’s hat and a fake ginger beard, giving a breath sample to the Police.
The man was me.
Saint Patrick’s day in our house was always a big occasion. We would start the day with Mass and then on to the local parade. It still is a big day but it has a bitter taste, for me at least, since “the wee hiccup”. That’s how the polite people of my town refer to it. At least that’s what they call it when I am within earshot.
Being the pillar of society that I am, I was asked if I would donate my services and truck for the parade. The truth is I didn’t want to do it. Not that I don’t like to help out, but rather I don’t like being in the public eye. It’s just the way I am. But anyway I said “Yes.” Because that’s what Yes Men do.
So, on the day prior to the parade I pulled the side curtains (tarpaulins) right back and the local Arts and Crafts club went to work. I have to hand it to them. When they were finished it really looked the part. The idea was that it would be a showcase for their work; Knitted jumpers, Paintings, Paper mache sculptures and the like.
The day came and there were about a dozen kids and two adults on our float. All beavering away on their sewing machines and spinning wheels and what have you. The crowds were clapping and cheering like they were in New York. I was even getting in on the act as we went along, giving the odd wave or tooting the air horn.
This ‘Float Driver’ lark was a first for me, so I can be forgiven for making the fatal mistake. With all the excitement I had forgotten to fill up with Diesel. The first I knew about it was when it was too late.
It wouldn’t have been so bad if the engine had just stopped. We could have gotten a tow from the float in front. But it didn’t just stop. It started to air-lock, on and off, offering me false hope that I might make it to the end of the parade at least.
To put it into layman’s terms, when a machine is running out of fuel she starts to Chug. And boy did this baby chug! She chugged so much that one of the children fell off, but landed on his feet thank God. The other kids were clinging on for dear life. In fact, one of the adults almost lost an eye with a knitting needle.
Of course I was oblivious to any of this until I had nursed the truck off down the nearest side street. I thought the two adults would have had the sense to get the children to sit down when the chugging started. They don’t make adults like they used to. When I did park up I could hear the crying which I hadn’t been able to hear over the Marching Band.
Next thing I knew there was a crowd gathered around snapping photos of the crying children. To be honest it looked as if a Tsunami had struck the float. And of course low and behold the Gardai (Police) show up and inform me that under Section something or other of the road traffic act they are obliged to ask me for a sample of my breath. I wouldn’t have minded but I knew the two cops personally. I suppose they were only doing their job.
And then the local newspaper the following day made it look like I was the Grinch who stole Saint Patrick’s day. Journalism is a dirty word in my house since then.
But time is a healer and maybe in a few more decades they will allow me to forget the wee hiccup.
Thank you for reading