Life on the lam is pretty boring. I should know. I spent a year of my life hiding from the police. In the suburbs. There were no dramatic middle of the night fleeings, no aliases, and no fabricated backstories. I was simply raising my two kids (#3, #4, and #5 weren’t born yet) and learning how to make a young marriage work. It was easy. Too easy, and I got cocky.
It all came crashing down one Spring afternoon. My family and I were sitting around the house when there was a knock at the door. It was the Fuzz.
There were two of them and they were asking for me. The husband had no choice but to let them in. They said they were going to have to take me in. I was resigned. My husband, on the other hand, was not.
My hero said in a matter-of-fact, cold as ice voice, “You know I’m not gonna let you just take her?” Lord bless him, he was going to defend me, even if all he could hope to accomplish was to get himself tazed, maybe even shot. One of the policemen took a defensive stance. In that instant, I pictured our house on the nightly news, surrounded by reporters, flood lights, the SWAT team, and some schmuck yelling into a megaphone. Luckily, my arresting officers were level-headed.
“Now, sir, there’s nothing to get upset about. We’ll take her and if you follow her and pay the bail, she won’t even have to spend time in a cell,” the upstanding officer explained. My husband, intellect outweighing instinct, stood down. That’s when the kids toddled into the living room.
To say they were excited is an understatement. Kids idolize police officers, even when they’re taking their mother into custody. If they’d been older, they might have admired them all the more for it. As it was, the police officers took pity on me, despite my criminality. While handcuffing me, they graciously offered to cover my handcuffed wrists with a towel, in an effort “not to upset the children.” Suckers.
I was handcuffed and stuffed in the back of the police cruiser. The back of a police car is amazingly small and I was less than comfortable on the long ride downtown. En route to the station, the officers kept glancing in the rear view mirror to watch me. What they were looking for, I’m not sure. My head bashing against the plexiglass partition? Kicking and screaming? Maybe. More than likely they were expecting me to cry. Once again, they grossly underestimated the criminal housewife. I was trying not to laugh. The corners of my mouth twitched and I felt a giggle bubbling dangerously to the surface. Hardened criminal that I was, I suppressed it.
We finally arrived downtown and the officers escorted me into the building. I was sorely disappointed. I was expecting a cacophony of ringing telephones, clacking typewriters, and protesting prostitutes. What I got was a perfectly respectable office space, complete with comfortable chairs and hushed voices.
I was put in a chair outside the secretary’s office to wait for the husband to deliver the money. The secretary glanced my way and leaned over to one of my police officers and said in a gossipy, stage whisper, “What did she do?”
The officer glanced my way and said in an equally loud and conspiratorial whisper, “Unpaid Speeding ticket.”
That’s right. I was taken from my home in handcuffs because I didn’t pay a speeding ticket I’d gotten a year before while on vacation. Why didn’t I pay it? I couldn’t afford to. Months went by and then I just forgot about it. Not very responsible of me but, at that time, the $350 fine might as well have been $8 million. We were newly married, broke, and had two kids.
The best part of the whole situation was that I told them when and where to find me. A couple of days before, I got an automated message asking when would be the best time to contact me. I pushed the appropriate button (option #2, I believe) because I hadn’t an inkling what it could be about, not being a habitual law-breaker. It was one of those “stupid criminal” moments. I wonder how many other poor schmoes they’ve caught that way.
The situation was made even more ridiculous by the fact that I’m almost 100% sure our next door neighbor sold pot. If I’d have been more savvy, maybe I could’ve cut a deal.
And I absolutely did not cry. I really did have to suppress laughter as I thought about someone I knew seeing me in the back of that police car. I’m law-abiding and straight-laced as they come. I’m pretty sure most of my friends have never been handcuffed in the back of a police car. Too bad for them. It makes for a great story.