shortly after i was hired as a 911 dispatcher, i came into work at 5pm. we worked in the heart of Vail, Colorado and our windows faced the ski resort.

upon getting into dispatch, i said hello to everyone and asked what had gone on that day (more than conversation, it was an important dialogue between shifts – to find out if there had been a fatality, domestic in progress, structure fire, etc.. something that happened in their day that would be crucial information for me to know before i started my shift.)

one of the senior dispatchers told me to look out the east window. i did, and saw the normal flow of traffic through the main vail roundabout. expecting to see some sort of accident, i looked back and her and said, “what am i supposed to see?” “keep looking,” she said.

i stood and watched, and noticed that while most of the traffic was passing in, though, and then out of the main roundabout, there was a budget rental truck that continued around the circle without exiting. once, twice, three times. it made me think of european vacation, “big ben! parliament!” except this guy wasn’t trapped in traffic.

“so, are you talking about the budget van? how long has he been driving around the roundabout?”

“since shortly before 2pm,” she said.

to be sure, i checked my watch. had i come into work early?

but no, this guy had been doing constant circles in traffic for close to 3 hours.

“has anyone pulled him over?”

evidently, he had been. one of the officers had noticed him and pulled him over after watching him for 5 or 10 minutes. he had no warrants, a valid license, and current registration. technically, he wasn’t impeding the flow of traffic or breaking any traffic laws. so the officer couldn’t really make him stop driving in circles and had to let him go about his business.

probably the most interesting thing about this guy were the details that we, as dispatchers, would never know about until the officer came back to the police department and into dispatch to divulge the rest of the story – a cherished moment in our stationary, ten to twelve hour shifts.

this driver had rented a budget van and then rigged up, incredibly poorly and primitively, a camcorder over the passenger seat facing the dash board. the camcorder was pointed at a fishbowl there, complete with water and goldfish.

the driver’s explanation for this strange centrifical fish videotaping was performance art. and at three plus hours and the price of gas, it must have been something he was completely passionate about. and it makes me wish i had a hobby that took that much forethought and planning.

poor fishy, though. son of a bitch was probably seasick as hell. or would that be carsick?