Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dear Officer, What Did I Do???

I am always wary of public-postings of my run-ins with the law. They are few, harmless, and quite frankly, hilarious, but as a teacher I have a reputation to uphold, and the way things are so easily misconstrued on the interweb, well... I'd rather just not.

However, this blog is a reminder to take things with a grain of salt, so here is the story about my rebellious behaviors.

Today is Father's Day, 2012, and last night my sister and I went to a concert. Jukebox the Ghost. I'd never heard of them, but my sister really loves them and wanted to go, and despite the fact I'd spent the day hacking up a lung with my cold/flu/sinus whatever, I had promised her months earlier that we would go together, so I chose to suck it up and go.

The first crew was pretty amazing. I had no idea what they were singing about, but they were culturally diverse and very talented. The guy with dreadlocks played the trombone and guitar. The lead vocalist played base, trumpet, could whistle, and I'm sure he had a handful of other talents incorporated into all of their songs. It was pretty cool to watch them play all the parts. They were called Bright Moments, if you're into that stuff.

The next group also had a great sound, though they stuck to the basics. They also played so loud that I couldn't understand a word they sang, but you could tell they were very charismatic. Unfortunately, the more my mind struggled to understand their lyrics, the more it wandered, and I was soon off in my own little world. I wondered if the two lead singers were involved romantically--maybe they were married, or in love like Johnny and June. Or maybe the geeky looking guy that reminded me of Reid from Criminal Minds was secretly in love with the girl, and was hoping to save her from falling in love with the other guy, because he seemed very cocky and arrogant, even if that was just his stage face. As you can see, my mind should not be left idle. I tend to overthink and create crazy scenarios in my brain.

Well, after plotting out the band's entire future, I decided I didn't quite care for them, which was slightly disappointing considering I really liked the music. I also made a mental note to check them out online, if I could remember their name--I really couldn't understand that either. It sounded French, and the venue was very loud. I'm sure I'd see it somewhere before I left, though. Regardless, I found them resembling certain people I've met throughout the years and will not loose sleep if I never see them again.

The third band was very good, obviously--being the main attraction and all. My mind still wandered, though, as I started imagining what their lives were like off-stage. What were they like? Did they have girlfriends? Kids? Were they nice people, or did they have star-complexes? Which lead me to thinking I should write a book about a traveling band, only to realize I know absolutely nothing about bands or music. I'm so lame that way. In fact, as we waited for the bands to set up, my sister mocked me for my inability to do a schoolyard trick that involves locking your hands together and wiggling your middle fingers about. Seriously, what kind of trick is that? Don't we frown upon the middle finger anyway??

Well, like I said, I had a good time at the concert, especially since I wasn't the only sickling in our crew. In fact, had it not been for the occasional cough and whatever came rising out of my lungs with it, I probably would have forgotten I was sick. I was tired, but it was late, and at least my nose wasn't constantly running.

Yes, so, the concert was fun. The drive home wasn't.

Driving around at midnight is a very awkward feeling. None of the streetlights work as they are constantly flashing; the city is dark and empty. Me and my overactive imagination get the best of me, yet again. Well, it started long before the drive, I suppose. My car has been acting funny for a while--though all the mechanics I've taken it to have said it has passed all its tests with flying colors. The day prior, though, the check engine light was on. A week before that, the battery light was flickering. That paired with the feeling like it is occasionally about to die on me as I'm driving, makes for quite a tense commute. But what do you do when you know something is wrong and all your mechanics say things are fine??

Regardless, before we'd parked for the concert--as we were driving around for probably a half hour TRYING to find a spot to park in this city which I barely know--my battery light flickers a few times. Great. Whatever, I have my triple A card.

Ok, so we find a very shady back-alley street to park on. There is one other car parked, and a want-to-be-gangster waddling down the road with his undergarments showing. As he does this, you hear him holler out something along the lines of, "FIVE OF US AND ONE OF YOU, YOU REALLY WANT TO DO THIS, @$!!@!*-ers" Insinuating he is about to fight with someone. We did not see 5 of anyone, in fact we only saw one, so either the guy was @$!!@!crazy or we were lucky to be parked behind a big truck. Either way, we were stuck between continuing down the one way and becoming a witness to a murder/asskicking/psychotic break and driving around another half hour, with my car possibly about to die, trying to find ANOTHER parking spot--OR just park in the shady alleyway and run for our lives. We chose to run for our lives.

We spent a few minutes debating if it was safe to park in this alley--(1) because of the potential murder/asskicking/psychotic break, and (2) because I've already received 1 parking ticket in the area, and I just didn't want to risk getting towed. Eventually we deemed making use of this spot the better option. As we sit in the car, shady-car guy pulls up behind us. He sits in his car, making me nervous, until I say, "LETS JUST GO!" and we grab our valuables, pop them in the trunk, and quickly inspect the meter.

Then shady-car guy gets out and walks up behind us. "You all set?" He asks, and as I try to decide whether he is a stalker/serial killer/ or just interested in the meter, we decide he is just following our cue on the parking. So we as three laugh and say why the heck not and start trekking up to our destination.

"You going to the show?" He asks.

"Yeah," We say,

"How do you know the band?"

"I don't" I admit that I'm just tagging along. Sister says she's a fan and we laugh. Eventually, we realize this guy is going to a different concert, and we part ways. But in the back of my mind I can't help feeling as though he'll be waiting for us when the show is through. Or, that the backalley is going to be filled with cops, or thugs, or my window will be smashed because I left my GPS holder in the window, and my dad always says to take that down in the cities. But it's fine where I work, and that is far more dangerous--even if it is a school in broad daylight. I envision my windshield smashed, my battery dead, and thugs who want to kill us.

 I am seriously paranoid. I get that.

Well, we leave the concert in a slight rush, because if any of my horrific thoughts actually happen, I would like the people leaving the concert to be able to hear us scream. We hop in the car and quickly drive down the shady alleyway--thankful there are no people to be found. We drove around for several minutes until I was completely lost, and had to pull over to get my GPS out of the trunk. I figured it would be safe to do this in a hannafords parkinglot, but then my GPS added to the discomfort by telling me to drive over the curbs of the parking lot and drive behind the the abandoned store towards the dumpsters.


So we drove around the parking lot until I found an exit, then Michelle recalculated the route. My sense of direction wasn't too off, because I ended up bypassing a lot of Portland by getting lost. Still, I'm glad I had my GPS.

As I'm driving, through the deserted post-apocalyptic feeling city, feeling like a criminal for disregarding all the blinking traffic lights--some new blinking lights appear in my rearview mirror. I nearly die.

What did I do??

I frantically review the past few minutes of my driving--the lights are all blinking! That means they aren't working and to proceed with caution--right? Isn't that what it means?? Was there a stop sign? What did I do? Was I speeding? I couldn't have been! What?! What did I do!!?

I pull over instantly, thankful that my mother had at least returned my registration--but where did I put it? What the fuck did I do?!

The cop pulls up behind me, then pulls out, lights still flashing. Then he pulls up ahead of me and pauses before pulling out again and shutting off his lights.

What. The. Fuck. Just. Happened.

I'm shaking at this point, trying to figure out what to do next. I am actually quite tempted to take my sister's friend up on his offer to let us spend the night--but I shake it off and say, "You obviously did nothing wrong, otherwise he would have given you a ticket."

I look to my sister and she is equally as confused.

Ok, so I get the courage to drive again, pull back onto the street and continue home--being hyper-vigilant now. I continue on, until all of the sudden, I spot the officer ahead--idling at the exit of a laundromat. The second I'm about near the entrance, his lights flash on and I hit my breaks, stopping as he darts out in front of me.

I'm shaking again! What do I do? How do I pull over when I am blocked by him? Is he after me? What is going on? Is he a cop? What the hell did I do?

The thoughts race through our minds, and we eventually wonder if this is one of those fake-cops rumored about--the kind that trick you and kill you. Yes, I'm paranoid, but what the hell--really! After time freezes, his lights shut off again and he drives off.





Just go home. I want to go home.

This is why I don't have fun.

This is why I stay home.

Why am I here?

What did I do??

Ok, you are blocking the road. Just drive.

Continuing on, we spend the better half of our ride trying to make sense of the encounters and trying our best to shake off the scare. I've pictured jail time. False imprisonment. Mistaken Identity.  Being framed. Dirty cops. Fake cops. The works. But we cannot make sense of what has happened--or what hasn't happened. I'm so stressed I can barely focus. Some of the lights I noticed afterwards were NOT blinking. Maybe I ran one by mistake? But what about the second time? Did he change his mind and want to pull me over? What the hell did I do??

All the drama seems to have remained in the city, but it is dark and I miss my turn. I find myself in the dark on a stretch of land I infrequently travel in the daytime. I do my best to estimate the speed limit--it's either 40 or 50 at any given point, so I figure 45 will be safe. I'm home free. I just have to find the gas station and turn and I will be able to curl up in bed and relax.

At this point, we are now laughing uncomfortable about the whole thing. We're maybe 10 minutes from the house, and all I can think about is bed. Bed, and the cop lights that light up as we pass the only other car on the road.

My heart freezes again. Seriously. What did I do? What the fuck did I do?

I pull over instantly, and realize this cop is not letting me go. What is the speed limit here? I had to have been 40. Or 50. It's so dark, I don't even know where I am, and I just want to cry. The lights are still flashing behind me, and I realize I don't know where my registration is. It's in the book--the book I threw in the back seat. The book I can't find. My license is in my pocket. The registration? I'm mortified. I'm going to be put in jail--no they can't do that! It will be fine--oh God, what did I do? Here he comes... Stay cool. Stay calm.

"What did I do???" I cry. I feel obligated to tell him I've already been almost-pulled over twice, but then feel that information might lead to more of a hassle. I realize that opening line is probably incriminating enough, though.  Still, I'm wracking my brain to figure out what exactly I did wrong. I'm shaking again, ready to cry.

He tells me my headlight is out.


Are you shitting me?

That's it?

We make small talk, and that's it. He runs my plates, my license, it takes forever. I hop out of the car, and sure enough I have only one working headlight--until I tap it a few times--then it comes back on.

I laugh, and wait for him to return to let him know it IS working. He is surprised and says I'm lucky--not in a smug way, but in a sincere, "hey, that is pretty cool" type way, and I finally relax. He gives me my things and tells me to have it looked at just in case. I thank him and I'm on my way.

I still can't believe it.

Stay tuned for my pre-Mother's Day fiasco from a few years back....

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