Are You Pregnant, Sir?

by  Sam C. Chan

November 20, 2000

This is an actual conversation between me and a New York State Trooper:

Trooper: "Are You Pregnant, Sir?"
Me: "No, I'm not, Trooper!"
The time: 1985
The Place: Long Ridge Mall in Rochester, NY, USA
(now part of the merged Greece Ridge Center)

The New York State troopers were setting up a seat belt safety awareness demonstration in the shopping mall. They had this rather large steel ramp structure, where a buckle seat slides down and crash into a stationery steel block at the end, and come to an abrupt stop. He asked for a volunteer from the very few surrounding onlookers. I thought it'd be fun to have an amusement ride, so I volunteered.

Once I was seated and buckled up. The trooper began to explain to me how it would work: I'd be lifted to the top of the ramp pneumatically and then glide down the rail by gravity. Upon impact, I would experience a 7 Mph collision. In the real world, this would be approximately equivalent to the impact of a 25 Mph collision, with the buffering effects of the crumbling engine compartment.

The trooper lectured on about the importance of seat belt in the event of a crash. I dutifully returned an occasional nod or two. By now, with me in the hot seat (actually it's cold metal), the crowd was growing by the minute. They looked on intently. There was suspense and anticipation in the air. I could hear them whispering to each other.

With a clipboard in hand, Mr. Trooper took my name, age, height, body weight, and a bunch of other vital statistics. Then came the disclaimer questions such as: Do you have a pre-existing heart condition? Are you taking any medications? Do you have a fear of height? Then he asked the provocatively humorous question in the title of this article. So, there you have itthe context which explains it all.

Once I signed the liability waiver, it was show time! Before I knew it, the ride was over and I heard a loud crash with reverberation. My body swung violently forward, and I felt what could be mistaken as a moderately sharp punch on my chest, by the seat belt. It was quite exciting and educational all-in-all.

I mean... how many of you can count such prestigious entries as "former crash dummy" and "featured sideshow spectacle" among your experiences on your resume? I even survived unscathed to tell my [imaginary] grand children:

"...back in my younger days, I had my 15 minutes of fame and I left with a bang!"

Oh... to this day, I'm still not pregnant.

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