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Go To Jail. Go Directly To Jail.

Let's see you roll your way out of this one, pretty boy
Have you noticed I haven't been around much since Thursday afternoon? Well, there's a reason for that! I was busy enjoying the mandatory hospitality of the government. Let me reassure you that I didn't drop the soap...whew! <Scruffy>'Course, it's shank or be shanked.</Scruffy>

Here's the story. I have this Highly Irresponsible Friend who used to live nearby. Nowadays he's a truck driver, so I only see him for a few hours here and there when he's breezing through town on his way to deliver a truckload somewhere. Truck drivers get very little time off and have crappy schedules; it's no way to live, really. A trucker's diet is basically truck stop food or fast food. Pretty terrible if you ask me. Also, their living quarters are really cramped. Before my friend became a trucker, I was so ignorant that I thought truckers slept in motels. It turns out they actually sleep in small built-in beds, right in their cabs! The first time I saw his cab, I thought "wow, this is huge!" But it really isn't, it's very cramped. It just seems huge if you haven't seen the inside of a truck before, but try living in one of those, full time. I can see how it would get really old, really fast. But he does make pretty damn decent money, for the first time in his life, so that's a big plus for him, and the money makes up for lots of the drawbacks of the trucker lifestyle. There are other positives besides the money. He gets to tour the country, and he never knows where he might be when he gets a day off. So he's already seen 46 of the states in his brief trucking career, which makes me more than a little jealous.

He used to be really amazingly irresponsible, but he's started to clean up his act, with some prodding from me. I'm kind of his self-appointed mentor/big brother, in a way. He's been driving a semi for the last year and a half or so, and whenever he's in town, I pick him up from whatever godforsaken truck stop he's parked in, and we take turns buying each other either lunch or dinner at some interesting restaurant, plus a few beers. This time it was his turn to buy, and we were going to have some Ethiopian food, because he's never had it. Fun, huh?

HIF rarely gets a chance to work out on the road, as the life of a trucker is an unhealthy, sedentary one, and he had been driving for like 10 hours when he rolled into town. So I had a bright idea: "hey, wanna come to my gym and get a work out before we eat?" He was game, so we went to the gym first, and I got him in as my guest, and we worked out for about an hour. After that we changed, got in the car, and set out to locate the Ethiopian joint. I'd eaten there once before, so I had a sense of confidence that I would remember how to get there. He even suggested bringing his laptop from the truck so we could look up directions, but I thought it wouldn't be a problem, and the laptop would be more trouble than it's worth.

So we set out to find the joint. Very unsuccessfully. As it turns out, my sense of confidence in my ability to find places I've been before is totally misplaced.

At one point, after we'd been driving around in circles for about 45 minutes ("I just know it's right around here somewhere") and asking bewildered pedestrians if they knew where it was, I thought I remembered something. I was in the right lane about to take a right, but I decided what I should really do is get in the left lane and turn left, instead. There were no cars behind me, so I pulled the old "reverse and get in the lane I want" maneuver. Totally illegal of course, but I do stuff like that all the time when I can get away with it. I don't consider it a big crime to back up and change lanes when no one is behind me and there's no chance of hurting anyone.

As it turns out, a cop was watching. He gave chase, and pulled us over. As we cooled our heels and waited for the officer to approach, HIF confessed that he hadn't paid a ticket somewhere, and feared he might have a warrant and could get arrested over this. I reassured him that of course I would bail him out.

The officer was a very friendly young guy, and my point of view was "just give me my ticket already so we can go eat!", so I wasn't inclined to argue or try to weasel out of anything. I knew what I did was wrong, and I did it anyway, so why lie or argue about it or give him a hard time? Officer Friendly asked for my license, then went back to his car a while. Then he came back, and asked my friend for his license. My poor friend was totally convinced he was going to be arrested. When OF came back, he asked me to step out of the car for a chat. I complied, and he asked me if I used to live at such-and-such. "Yes". He apologized, but he said he was going to have to arrest me.

D'oh!

On the spot, too! He had me turn around, and he cuffed me! What, can't we negotiate this and like, arrest me later maybe? I was about to EAT!

A few years ago, I ignored some speeding ticket I got, and I got my license suspended for it. Then I got stopped again, and that officer could have arrested me for driving on a suspended license, but he wrote me another ticket instead, and I was supposed to go to court, and again, I didn't bother because it seemed like a hassle. I paid all my tickets and a fine and reinstatement fee and got my license reinstated a few months later, and I thought the whole deal was over. I was wrong. I had a warrant issued for my arrest for failing to appear on the second ticket!

I don't even remember what the original ticket was for. I think I was speeding in New Mexico or something stupid like that. But that one ticket turned into a multi-year-long hassle for me just because I'm an idiot and I ignored it.

OF was very nice about it, and claimed I would be in and out of booking in two hours with a court date. He didn't even ticket me for my illegal maneuver! He said he hadn't taken many people in that night, so it shouldn't be very crowded because it seemed like a slow night, and I should be in and out of there in no time. He actually apologized for ruining my night, and told me to look at the bright side: at least I wasn't on a date or something! Good point, officer. He gave HIF directions to where to come bail me out if it turned out I needed bailing, which was nice of him. HIF was totally in the clear! I couldn't believe it! Who's the HIF now?! Argh.

On the ride to the lockup, I discussed police work with OF, what his job is like, things like that. He encouraged me to call the precinct and sign up for a citizen's ride-along. Apparently many police departments have this program; you call a precinct, tell them what shift you want to ride along with, and they'll pair you up with an officer. You get to ride around all day and see what he does, and if he leaves the car you can even come with him. You do have to wear a vest they give you, and sign a waiver that they're not responsible if you get shot. But anything the officer does, and anywhere he goes, you can go too! I didn't even know there was such a thing, but it sounds like an interesting and fun way to spend a day.

My night didn't feel ruined yet, but it was. Oh, it was. They searched me, took all my stuff away, and then I spent 8 or 9 totally undignified hours in the county's digestive system before finally being excreted and given back my cellphone and wallet. It was incredibly boring! I asked an officer at the counter for a newspaper to read or something, and she disdainfully pointed out that it was supposed to be boring, so I wouldn't want to come back there.

Another good point, I guess.

The boredom was punctuated by terror and disgust. It was very crowded, and I was surrounded at all times by drunks, morons, drug-dealing thugs, people who smelled horrible, and beaten-up people with nasty open wounds. The worst was when an obviously intoxicated, heavily tattooed gang member sat next to me and started muttering about how he didn't give a fuck any more and how he knew he was going to be in for 20 years. Oh, and a lot of people were coughing constantly. Another reassuring sign. I hope I didn't come home with SARS or something.

One idiot was yelling about how much he much he hated crackers, and they ended up shoving his ass in his very own cell to try to shut him up. So he responded by banging and pounding on the door and screaming. For the first time in my life, I fervently wished they would give this idiot a taste of that police brutality I've heard so much about. You know, to shut him the hell up. No such luck! Instead I had to listen to this jackass's ranting and door-banging for hours. I now fully support police brutality.

After fingerprinting, mug shot, medical screening, and hearing, they decided to let me go on my own recognizance (no bail). My court date is at the end of September, and the guy told me basically I'll come to court, show the judge that I have a valid license again, and the whole thing should be dismissed immediately. I'll have to pay some kind of court costs for wasting their time or something, but that's it. So the whole experience really had no point other than reminding me to cross every T and dot every I when it comes to the government, and don't blow them off, because unlike everyone else whom I might blow off, they can seriously ruin my day without warning.

I left with my paperwork, my belongings, and my bruised ego, and HIF was waiting for me in the car outside. He'd been sitting there the whole damn time, waiting for me to either call and tell him to come bail me out, or just waltz on out of there. He'd even gone to the ATM and brought back 1000 bucks cash, in 20s. Poor guy. We're officially even now. I've gotten him out of a bunch of jams but I certainly never had to waste 8 or 9 hours sitting in a car waiting to bail him out! It was 4 or 5 AM by then. As soon as I talked to poor zorkie, who was worried sick, she goes, "What the fuck happened, ev?! I thought you were dead in a ditch!" I've never been so happy to be yelled at in my life! She didn't even believe me when I told her I just got out of jail, she thought I was kidding! She thought what really happened was that I got in a bad accident and was in the hospital and didn't want to admit to her how badly I was hurt, so I was claiming to have been in jail instead. I OFFICIALLY don't understand female logic. If I was hurt in an accident, I would have said so! I was in jail, you silly girl! She was to be the first in a series of people over the next two days who refused to believe that I was just in jail very recently. OK, fair point, I wasn't really in jail, I was in booking, but still. It felt very jail-ey.

After I was caught-and-released, we celebrated by finally eating. We went to a pancake joint, where our waitress was the second to refuse to believe my story that I had just gotten out of jail. Oh, well. Then I dropped my friend off at his truck, drove home, and slept till Friday evening. My friend didn't have the luxury of sleep; he had a "hot load", that is, a load that absolutely has to be at its destination by a certain time, so he had to immediately start driving despite not having had slept.

On the bright side, having seen how easily it can turn into an incredible hassle, and having narrowly and miraculously escaped the same fate as me, my friend is going to take care of his outstanding ticket right away.

Jail has really bad customer service. Like worse than Comcast or Sprint. They never tell you what stage of the process you're in or what happens next, and they don't care if you're uncomfortable or bored, and the people who work there don't really consider you fully human, whether you're there for a really good reason such as killing people, or a stupid, crappy reason like blowing off a speeding ticket a few years ago. To them, you're just more vermin. Having seen the vermin who were my fellow incarcerees, I can't say I disagree much, I guess...I wouldn't want to chitchat with these people either.

Anyway, I finally bought an iPhone yesterday. The girl at the Apple store was the third to refuse to believe I had just been in jail and that was why I decided to come buy an iPhone. How am I supposed to brag about my stint in chokey if no one will believe me?! Sheesh! The first thing I wanted to do after I got out of jail and got a good night's sleep was to restore that childlike sense of wonder to my life, and what better way to do that than with an Apple product? Also, it's an early birthday present to myself. Also, if I had had the iPhone when we were trying to find the Ethiopian joint, I could have just looked it up on Google maps and I would never have been arrested. See? I have a few other specious pretexts and flimsy excuses for why I needed a $600 phone, but the bottom line is that I wanted it so I got it. Bloggie looks great on it!

Posted by evariste on Aug 18, 2007 5:17 pm

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