Arrested Part One: Cuffed

I spent the morning yelling at kids, gathering towels, looking for sand toys, and yelling at the kids some more. It was a Beach Day. The plan was to meet the kids’ grandmother at the beach at 10:00 AM, before it got crowded and parking was impossible. We were, as usual,  running late. We backed out of the drive-way 15 minutes after the scheduled departure.  It was a costly 15 minutes.

police lightsI got maybe a mile down the road when I saw the blue lights in the rear view mirror.  “Which one of you brats isn’t wearing a seat belt?” I roared to the back seat. (“Brats” is a term of endearment.  Ahem.) The kids cried out in protest. I scanned the back seat and, sure enough,  all 5 were restrained.  I did a mental checklist.  My tags were up-to-date. I was wearing my seat belt. I hadn’t used my car in an armed robbery. I didn’t steal the car. I was flummoxed.

The police officer approached the car and asked for my license. Before he even looked at it, he asked me if I was Ms. Quinney.  That’s not a good sign.  “Yes, sir.”  He asked me step out of the car. Again, “yes, sir.”  (I am a very polite Southern girl.  Especially to police officers who know my name.)

“You are driving with a suspended license. How many kids are in your car? Do you have someone who can come and get them and your car?”

Wait.  What?

“Because I can’t allow you to drive this car anywhere and I’m going to have to arrest you.”

Wait.  What?

“Ma’am, do you understand?”

“Yes, sir?” It was a question because I most certainly did not understand. My husband was pulled over twice with a suspended license (don’t ask why, it wasn’t anything serious) and both times the officer impounded his truck and had somebody come get him. He wasn’t arrested.

“Somebody has to come get the car.  Normally, I’d impound the vehicle, but since you have the kids with you…” Oh.  Super cop was being generous.  “Can you call someone?”  I nodded and headed back to my car. “Miss, you don’t want to call anyone who might cause a scene.”

Well, that certainly left my husband out. I know that man of mine and he wasn’t going to let his wife be hauled off in handcuffs.  Again. (Yes, I’ve been in handcuffs before.  Read about that here.) I called my mother-in-law, who was convinced he was staking me out.  Why else would he run my plates?

stick family stickers

Highly suspect…

Turns out, Corporal James R. Hollingsworth (yes, that’s his real name and isn’t it fantastic?) ran everybody’s plates because what with the murders and America’s Most Wanted capturing escaped criminals all over this little town (true story), it’s an excellent use of his time. When he comes across a land yacht with 7 of those adorably cheesy family stick figures on the window, backing out of the driveway, he runs the plates, and sees suspended license for a “failure to appear in court” over a lame-o “no proof of insurance” ticket–which is absurd since in the state of Georgia, every cop can see if a person has insurance simply by running their plates–and there are five kids in the back, obviously equipped to go to the beach, and a hardened criminal frightened woman who obviously had no idea her license was suspended, he decided that, yes, she should be arrested and taken to jail immediately, with no regard for the overcrowded prison cells and the colossal waste of time it is since she won’t be held and they won’t even be able to collect bond for her crimes.  Or maybe he just didn’t like people who write in run-on sentences.

I called my friend to tell her the hilarious story. It wasn’t until I was talking to her that I remembered I was dressed for the beach. I would be taken to jail in my bathing suit, cover-up, and flip-flops with my greasy hair in a bun and no make-up on my face. My mug shot would be awesome.

The kids realized we weren’t going to the beach and the whining started.  “I’m going to jail and I would appreciate it if you didn’t cry because you can’t go to the beach!  How about a little perspective here?” That shut them up.

Billy (the 6yo) offered some advice. “Forget about the police. Just drive away.” When I didn’t start driving, he made a suggestion.  “Can’t you just punch the policeman in the face?”  I worry about that kid’s future.

Not what he used, but they look comfy.

The MIL arrived and the nice policeman took me to the side of the police car.  He opened the door (to shield the horrific and potentially trauma-inducing sight from the children) and asked me to place my hands behind my back.  He cuffed me.  “Is that too tight?”

“No sir.”

He put me in the back of the police car.  I was officially arrested, though he didn’t read me my Miranda Rights. Isn’t that, you know, a requirement?  You’d think Officer Hollingsworth, that most conscientious of peacekeepers, would remember that.  He drove away (too fast) and I realized that yes, indeed, the cuffs were too tight and that there is no way to get comfortable in the back of a police car with your arms wrenched behind your back and your knees jammed into the metal seat back.  On top of that, my glasses were inching down my nose, which is really annoying. I have back problems, too, and every bump gave me a spasm. It was miserable.

And then it got worse. My arresting officer started flipping through radio stations.  He found one he liked.  “Turn your knob to BOB 106.9!  Savannah’s home for new countryyyyy!”  The voice of Kenny Chesney oozed out of the radio speakers:

 “The sun and the sand and a drink in my hand with no bottom
And no shoes, no shirt, and no problems!”

Jostling around in the back seat of a police cruiser, en route to the jailhouse, I finally understood the concept of “cruel and unusual punishment.”

To be continued…

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

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The Jig Is Up!

Handcuffed Hands Vector Illustration

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.