Thursday, April 14, 2005

Why they Don't Say WOMAN'S Best Friend...

Since I'm bored, NOTHING exciting has happened lately AND I am too lazy to go surfing for tidbits, I thought I would tell you all the story about how I got arrested and hauled to the pokey through no fault of my own.

Truly.

I swear.

Bad circumstances and bad timing collided with me in the middle.

Really.

Get a snack, something frosty to slake your thirst and make yourself comfortable cause we're going back. WAY back.


I was waitressing at a great brewpub in Lincoln, Nebraska at the time. For reasons I can't currently recall, some of us had met for some sort of meeting (I think) at the OTHER brewpub in town (so we could smugly dine in the knowledge that our place was WAY better). Being in our mid-twenties (aka footloose and fancy free) we OF COURSE imbibed probably a few to many and there may have been some smoking questionable substances in the back of someone's truck too (I plead the fifth / blame it on dead brain cells, but I'm REALLY not sure).

Anyhoo, the festivities break up and I saddle up my Jeep CJ7 and head for home. Well, a few blocks toward home, I see those oh-so-dreaded red and white flashers behind me. Trying not to hyperventilate, I pull it on over. I'm chewing gum like it's the miracle buzz-cure-all and sitting patiently with both hands on the wheel (so as to not startle the nice officer).

The Officer moseys up to the side of my vehicle (topless / doorless jeep - he could see that I was alone) and tells me good evening and asks for the paperwork. I immediately start digging in the glove box (now that I've gotten the go-ahead to move) and I nonchalantly (yeah right!) ask if I had a taillight out or something, because I KNOW I wasn't speeding (sounds cocky, but didn't come out that way - keep in mind that I'm like a 23-ish year old cupcake with charming smile. And I KNOW, in my "influenced" state, I had been keeping it on the right side of the posted limit).

As I snap back up in my seat, registration & insurance in hand, he tells me that my license plate is missing.

Me: (stupidly) "No it's not"

Officer (looking up from his cursory glance at my paperwork) "Yes, it is."

Me: (dimmest bulb on the Christmas tree) "No, it's not."

The nice officer then has me get out of the jeep and leads me to the back, where, whadda you know, my license plate is missing. I circuit the vehicle to check the front plate. Yep, still there.

Me: "Hmmmm"

Back around to the back I go.

Me: (again) "Hmmmmm. It was JUST here!"

Officer: "When was the last time you saw it?"

Me: (realizing that I don't exactly keep tabs on my license plates) "Well, gee. I'm not exactly sure. I don't usually approach from the back."

Officer: "I see"

Me: (getting a little miffed now - I daintily stamp my foot) "Dang nab it! I can't BELIEVE someone stole my license plate! Why would they do that?"

Officer: "I don't know miss."

Me: "This STINKS!"

Officer: "Well, I'll call in and report is stolen."

Me: "It says 'OTTER'. I HIGHLY doubt anyone is using it on their getaway car!"

Officer: snort

Me: "I'm sure it's in someone's basement by now."

Officer: "Well, I'll just call it in so you can be covered until you can get a replacement." (Truly, he is trying to be nice officer-man and help me out)

Me: "Oh, all right."

Officer goes back to his patrol car, sitting in the driver's seat with the door open, as I make a few more circuits looking dumbly at the front plate then back around to gaze at the clean spot where the rear plate should be. Then stand with my hands on my hips looking pissy. I can make out some of what the nice officer is saying. I hear him say things like, "Really?", "Oh.", "For what?" and "Are you sure?", etc and I start to get nervous (again - keeping in mind my altered-reality state that I thought I was passing off as 'normal').

He finally, reluctantly, drags himself out of his car and back over to me looking at the ground. I'm getting a little nervous and wondering what's up.

Officer: "It seems you have a warrant out for your arrest."

Me: WHAT??!!!

(but there just aren't enough question marks and exclamation points in the WORLD to convey the forceful incredulity I pour into that one small word - especially since my bottom jaw is somewhere around pavement level)

Officer: (really, again, looking uncomfortable) "It seems you had a ticket for "Dog at Large" that you did not pay."


FLASHBACK FOR BACKGROUND

I had a gorgeous Samoyed named Tori who was my best friend and constant companion. I had recently moved out of a third-floor one bedroom walk-up apartment in a chopped-up older home to a little two bedroom house that I was renting with a co-worker. I thought Tori would love the good-sized back yard complete with chain-link fence. But she became Houdini Dog and was ALWAYS escaping while I was at work or at church (JUST KIDDING! You KNOW I meant at work or OUT DRINKING).

One time I even caught her squeezing between two layers of overlapped fence. She was pushing herself along the fenceline, about a foot off the ground, trying to get to the edge of the overlap that ended on the outside. I just stood there and watched in awe until she made it, then I went out, called her back and fixed the fence. WONDER DOG!!

Anyhow, I know I had received a warning, but they TAPE the notices to your door. The fact that I had been actually ticketed but NEVER SAW SAID TICKET did not surprise me in the least.


BACK TO OUR HEROINE

(While you were gone getting the background story, I was also back on the side of the road basically giving the same story to the Nice Officer - including the fact that they TAPE important things like tickets to the door).

Poor Mr. Officer is looking REALLY uncomfortable. Here he had pulled me over because someone STOLE my license plate and while he was trying to be HELPFUL he is told to BRING ME IN!!!

I am talking a mile a minute (literally - I talk like an auctioneer under NORMAL circumstances) and trying not to cry when it hits me that I SHOULD cry! After all, that would give me a good reason to be all red-eyed when I show up at the station. So I turn the waterworks on full blast.

Oh gentle readers, you should REALLY be feeling for the Poor Officer right now. Again - me: cute, long brown hair, big brown eyes, cute, blubbering, yet acting occasionally like I'm trying to be "strong" but that I just can't help it (hey, he doesn't need to know I used to be a theatre major. Nor does he know that I am Smart and Sneaky and Manipulative). I am trying to get him to just let me go and PROMISING (batting my eyes forlornly) to go FIRST THING TOMORROW and pay the fine. Of course, he says he can't do that because "they" already know he has me. This information, again, releasing TORRENTS of tears.

Somewhere along the line, I have ended up sitting in the back of the cruiser, but the door is sitting open. I see his "cavalry" pull up. Ironically enough, it is my NEIGHBOR who is a K-9 cop (His dog is a COOL German Shepherd - of course - who has the most AWESOME silver fang. It really makes him look menacing and I LOVE it and HIM. Therefore I say hi to them over the fence and go drool over the dog and give him lovin' when they are out playing frisbee.) He knows I am a "good" neighbor who doesn't have loud parties, goes to work, keeps the lawn from jungle status, etc.

Neighbor Officer: (strolling over to me in the back of the cruiser, wearing goofy smile) I heard the situation over the radio and figured it was you and thought I'd drop by. So, what kind of trouble did that dog get you into this time? (Since he is my neighbor, and a dog owner, he is WELL aware of my dog Trials and Tribulations.)

Me: (flashing watery smile) That damn dog! I keep telling him he needs to take me home & I will GIVE him the dog! SHE is the one that should be going to the slammer!"

Neighbor Officer: laughs and pats my knee

Neighbor Officer & Poor Officer confer with lots of glancing at me and much head shaking. Neighbor Officer turns to waive then goes back to his car (and law-enforcing dog). Then Poor Officer comes over and says how sorry he is, but he really has to take me in, but he's not going to cuff me or anything. I sniff daintily (um, right) and try to smile up a little at him.

Me: "Thank you" (I say, because I think this will make him feel even shittier, which it seems to because he won't even look at me).

He softly shuts the door and, as promised, drives me straight to the pokey.

He walks me down to the booking area, telling them PROFUSELY what the charge is (not paying Dog at Large ticket) and trying to get them to put me in a solitary cell (because decent citizens like me shouldn't be in with, you know, the DRUNKS, or god forbid, the DRUGGIES!!). Unfortunately, Booking Matron Hilda is not impressed with my pathetic self and tells Poor Officer that the solitary cells are full of unconscious drunks so I'm going in the with the "rest" of the women. Poor Officer looks very distressed by this, but can't do anything about it. Before he leaves he tells me again how sorry he is and mopes out the door (I later write him a letter telling him not to be to hard on himself about the incident, he was just "doing his job", etc., because it's ALWAYS good to have a cop who might feel like he OWES YOU ONE!!! Also, I'm just THAT nice of a person. Okay, quit laughing, I AM still in the slammer here)

I am relieved of my shoes, my picture is taken (OH GOOD LORD!! do I start blubbering here, as I think they are taking a mug shot, but it turns out they just want a Polaroid to put on your file so they know who is who and don't accidentally take the rapist away thinking he is the drunk driver, and vice versa). They tell me I have to pay the $100 for the ticket and I pipe right up that I have it, on me, believe it or not (apparently I was going to the bank with my tip money the next day or something). That's all well and fine, but someone has to come get me. I finally call my friend Nick, explain briefly to his sleepy voice (it's like 3am at this point) that I'm in the hoosegow and he agrees to come get me.

Now I get escorted to "my" cell. There are three, maybe four, other women in there. I slip onto the corner of the bench right by the door and try to make myself invisible. Immediately this large black woman asks me "What'd you do honey?".

As I may have mentioned, I don't exactly look criminal, plus I look pretty soggy and forlorn at this point (and inwardly grateful they aren't making me take a pee test or anything and wanting to get the hell outta Dodge before they realize their oversight). I tell her (and when I say "her" I mean everyone in the cell as this is not exactly a clandestine conversation involving the Cone of Silence or anything) about the stolen license plate and the Dog at Large ticket TAPED to the door. She tsks and shakes her head several times during the retelling.

Large black woman: "Honey, you don't belong here."

Me: "I know! That's what I keep telling them!"

Large black woman: chuckles, "Dear, dear, dear"

In the approximately two hours I'm in there, she must tell me that I "don't belong there" at LEAST twelve times. I keep nodding my head and saying, "I know".

When they FINALLY come to spring me, I find out from Nick that he had gotten there right away, but they told him HE had to pay the $100 and he had to go wake up a friend and borrow the money. Freaking idiots!!! I give him the money right back, he takes me back to my jeep (which Poor Officer had told me he would keep an eye on, since it was parked in a dark business area and had no top or anything) and I go home to my dog.

Who is running around out in the front yard.

Fucking dog.