This article in Men’s Health encouraging people to go for long, aimless, “stress-busting” drives alone was published on April 18, 2015. Written by two men in the first person, the author impulsively decided to take a 170 mile drive to a state park, and rhapsodized about the exhilarating restorative quality of releasing 0.14 metric tons of CO2e into the atmosphere (340 miles round-trip in an Audi S7). The year 2015 shattered temperature records. According to the Men’s Health Media Pack 2015/2016, “the editorial ethos is founded upon empowering readers to achieve success in every facet of their lives. We call this service journalism.” Men’s Health readers, the media pack boasted, spent 1.4 billion pounds on cars in 2015. This article was accessed online in July of 2019.
People seek to confirm memories from a time before the Internet was commonplace by checking online. Did this really happen? Do other people have memories of this weird thing too?
In the case of Officer Dan, fake RCMP policeman and the foe of Leaside High School’s pot smokers, the answer is yes. Yes, you and your friends really were standing in a crescent formation, trying not to notice how many tokes everyone took on their turn, when you were approached by a man who identified himself as “Officer Dan,” an undercover member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Officer Dan at first threatened to arrest you and telephone your parents to let them know exactly what you’d been up to. Then–like the Samaritan ministering to the man travelling from Jericho who had been set upon by thieves–Officer Dan announced that he was going to let you off, but not before he confiscated your weed.
These happenings became a semi-regular occurrence, a bit of a drag. “We got busted again by Officer Dan.” It’s difficult to pinpoint how or when the news spread among the members of Leaside’s unofficial but most enthusiastically attended club that Officer Dan wasn’t really a cop. Maybe someone realized the RCMP doesn’t provide municipal or provincial policing in Ontario, or perhaps it just slowly dawned on even the most addled of minds that it didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
My thoughts have often returned to the case. Was Leaside the only neighbourhood he hit, or was he scamming all of Metro Toronto? Was it his own dreadful secret, or something he laughed about–“You should have seen their faces, it was like taking candy from a baby, I even made them give me the roach!“– with his friends? Was it a spur of the moment decision, a pie left cooling on a windowsill, or an ingenious plan contrived because all of a sudden, he was a middle age man who was finding it increasingly difficult to score?
He was tall and white, with short brown hair. Clean-shaven. “I think he wore a striped shirt once,” offered LHS alumnus “Hazel Bite” (not her real name). Memories of his face have been lost to the mists of time.
He’s a mystery for the ages. Thanks for the memories, Officer Dan. Weed is still only legal in Canada for people over the age of 18. It would be nice to think he’s still plying his (fake) trade to this day, teaching kids they need to be a bit more discreet, and after that, teaching them to be a bit more savvy, his own special Officer Dan way of reminding teenagers that Santa Claus isn’t real.