Kirby: Paying through the nose for a DUI
Every so often I'll walk past a cosmetic counter in a department store and instantly think of a girl named Annie. I can't help it.
It's the perfume. Annie wore lots of [popular perfume] in 1972. Forty years later, a bit of it in the air and poof! she's right there in a pair of cutoff jeans so abbreviated that it's almost just the waistband.
Remembering Annie is not my fault. That particular perfume is filed in my memory banks under "Annie" (also under "halter top") rather than its actual name.
Note: I'm not saying which perfume because my wife might read this. I don't feel like getting whacked next time we're shopping and we catch a whiff of it.
The human sense of smell, while nowhere near as powerful as that of a dog, is still a force to be reckoned with. I can't smell shoe polish without thinking of Fort Jackson, S.C., or a barnyard without remembering my first apartment.
While our sense of smell is most often deliberately co-opted for the purposes of marketing (the smell of baking bread, cooking ribs, etc.) it can also be used for law enforcement.
I attended the 18th annual Utah Sheriffs Conference in St. George last week. Every police gadget imaginable was on display in the vendors hall: vehicles, ATVs, badges, guns, computers, handcuffs, uniforms, cameras, etc.
One booth in particular caught my eye. It was staffed by the Utah Highway Patrol and promoted an anti-DUI campaign that targeted the human nose.
UHP Sgt. Ted Tingey gave me a collection of "A DUI Stinks" car air fresheners. In each little cellophane packet was a nauseating reminder of the potential consequences for being caught behind the wheel with a load on.
The idea seemed to be that if you couldn't appeal to reason among those who drink and drive, perhaps you could appeal to their gag reflexes and communicate what's in store for them if they're arrested.
The first freshener was a pasteboard cutout of a surly guy in an orange jumpsuit. It was appropriately titled, "Sweaty Cellmate."
"Give it a sniff," Ted told me. "Not too hard, though. It'll hurt your brain."
He was right. "Sweaty Cellmate" had the heady aroma of an unwashed armpit. Hang that from the rearview mirror of your ride and you'll have a reeking reminder of why you don't want one for the road.
Next up was a facsimile of a jail cell toilet. I'll leave the smell of this one to your imagination. It was bad.
Finally, there was "Rotten Jail Food," a small 3-by-4-inch card featuring the photo of a cafeteria tray loaded with beans, hash and what looked like Vienna sausage bits but probably wasn't.
Of the three DUI unfresheners, "Jail Food" was the worst. I didn't have to intentionally smell it. Just tearing off the corner was enough to clear out the vendors on both sides of the DUI booth.
Whether appealing to the nostrils of potential DUI candidates will effectively lower the number of drunken drivers remains to be seen. A lot depends on getting them into the hands of the right people.
And I don't mean the Utah Legislature. Our liquor laws are strange enough without having to hang these from your ears before you can legally order a drink.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.
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