Friday, July 23, 2010

Don't Trust the Po-lice, No Justice No Peace

Last night, Husband and I went out to dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. I had a nice, fruity alcoholic beverage and a delicious wrap. He had a water and some wings. We had a nice time, punctuated by witty conversation and me continually trying to put the balled up wrapper from my straw in his ear, as is our behavior.

Living in the middle of nothing means nothing is close by, so the drive home from the restaurant was about half an hour long. As we were arriving back in town, Husband driving, he noted that there seemed to be a whole lot of police around, all of them state cops. We pulled up to a stop light, preparing to turn on to the main road of our little town, when he remarked, "And another one!" as a cop fell in line behind us.

We made the left hand turn on to Bridge Street, when next thing I know the car is lit up red from the flashing lights of the police car behind us. Husband groaned and pulled over. I was pretty confused--all we did was turn, what could he be pulling us over for?--when I realized I wasn't wearing my seat belt. I know that in some states, you have to be pulled over for another offense in order to get a seat belt ticket, but not in New York. So as casually as I could, while Husband opened the glove box to begin searching for his registration and insurance, I strapped myself in. Good thing, too, or I'd have two tickets on my hands right now.

The police officer came strolling up to the driver's side, cocky as all get-out. (Yeah, I just used the phrase "as all get out." What of it?) Husband stopped rummaging through the glove box and handed him his drivers license. The officer took it, but then leaned down to look through the window at me and said, "I'm actually more interested in her ID.

Me: "Me?" I tried to sound as puzzled as possible, as if I'd done nothing wrong.

Officer: "Yes, you."

So I reached down into my purse, pulled out my wallet, and slid out my ID. As I was handing it to him, I tried to figure out whether or not it was a good idea to lie and say my seat belt was on the whole time and that he was imagining things. As I settled on no, he started talking again.

Officer: "Do you have a driver's license?"

Me: "No."

Officer: "Are you sure?"

Now, I'm pretty sure if I had a drivers license, I'd be the first to know about it. Especially since it would mean I'd overcome my debilitating fear of operating a car, finally gotten the glasses the DMV told me once years ago I'd need if I wanted to be allowed to drive, and grown a couple of inches so that I didn't have to stretch to reach the gas pedals. I hate stretching.

Instead of telling him all of those things, I simply said, "Yeah, I'm sure." That's when he dropped this little doozy of a question:

Officer: "Why'd you throw your cigarette out the window?"

Me: "What?"

Having been so distracted by the whole being pulled over deal, I'd completely forgotten that I finished my cigarette as we made the turn. Could that seriously be what this was about?

Officer: "Why'd you throw your cigarette out the window?"

Me: "Because I was done with it." I tried, and failed, to keep the snark out of my voice.

Officer: "Well does this," he motioned around him, "look like a trashcan to you?"

Instead of answering like I wanted to, which would have been "Yes, because I am, as you can obviously see, exceedingly stupid," I settled for a simple, "No." I may or may not have said it in the same tone in which a child would say, "Duh."

Next came Husband's favorite part of this experience. He, at this point, decided to take over the conversation, since my attitude was becoming more apparent, and he just wanted to get home.

Officer: "So, where are you guys coming from?"

Husband: "Buffalo Wild Wings."

Officer: "And where are you headed?"

Husband: "Home."

At this point, even my husband's tone was starting to show his annoyance. Why the fuck did the cop need to know these things? Seriously. Because I unthinkingly threw my cigarette butt out the window, were we obviously menaces to society? Obviously, since she littered, those two are on the way to commit a murder. Or coming from committing one. Never mind that the ID I gave him was a spousal military identification card. Even though my husband DEFENDS YOUR FREEDOM, that cigarette butt is proof we're obviously degenerates that need to be questioned. Anyway:

Officer: "Where's home?"

Husband: "Ten minutes that way."

Officer: "What's the address?"

Husband gave it to him.

Officer: "Any problems with your license? It's not suspended or anything?"

Husband: "No, sir."

Officer: "All right, let me go check that out and make sure."

So the officer when back to his car, where he hung out for what felt like three years.

Let me just say that I know I did something wrong. I acknowledge that. Littering is bad. I don't want to live in a world where the streets are covered in trash, and neither do you. Should I have thrown that cigarette butt out the window? No. Does that really warrant being pulled over and grilled by a police officer, though? Seriously? IT WAS A CIGARETTE BUTT! I didn't toss out a bag of trash. It wasn't a plastic bag or Styrofoam cup that will be hanging out on that street forever, never to decompose. It was an inch long piece of paper and cotton.

Is this really what police officers concern themselves with? Especially state troopers? Do they really think it's an effective use of their time to stop us because I littered? I may live in a pretty rural area, but is there really no other crime to be stopped? Someone somewhere was speeding down one of the county roads, putting the lives of others in danger. I'm sure someone around was driving drunk. There must be drug dealers or prostitutes somewhere around, though I haven't seen any.

My point is, this can't really be what police need to concern themselves with. In today's world, there's plenty of dangerous, illegal things happening all the time. Go save some lives, police. Leave me alone.

The police officer was in his car checking us out long enough for dusk to turn to twilight, and when he came back, he walked up to my window, carrying his flashlight. Which he used to take a peek around the car, obviously, because it was totally his business what was in there.

It's important that, as you read on, you imagine that the police officer is speaking like you would to a very young child. Since I am, as you know, exceedingly stupid, as evidenced by my not knowing the difference between the street and a garbage bin.

Officer: "We don't like litter around here. Now, have you ever gotten a ticket?"

Me: "No."

Officer: "Well, I wrote you up for a traffic violation. The court date is August 3rd, it says that here." He pointed to it on the ticket. "You can mail in your plea instead of going to court, by filling out this back part here." He pointed again. "The address you mail it to is here." More pointing. "Do you understand?"

I just looked at him and nodded. I may have rolled my eyes. At this point, I just couldn't help it.

Officer: "You know, you're lucky I wrote you up for a traffic violation. Otherwise, if it was just a littering citation, I'd have to take you in and fingerprint you and everything."

That's right, ladies and gentlemen. You can be detained and fingerprinted for LITTERING. I have never heard a more ridiculous thing in my entire life. I know I shouldn't have littered. I understand that. What I did was wrong. But FINGERPRINTING? BEING BROUGHT TO THE POLICE STATION? REALLY?

At this point, I almost lost my shit. I took the ticket from him. Before he was done saying, "You folks are free to go; have a nice night," my window was rolled up.

Good job "protecting" and "serving," there, officer. Commendable, really. Hope you feel good about yourself. You're making a real difference in the world.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. You can get tickets in the city where I live for the same thing, but the cops aren't jerks about it like that guy was. If this happened at the end of the month, it's because that particular officer had not reached his monthly "quota" of tickets and had to write some asap. (No, I'm not making that up. A cop friend of mine confirmed it.) Tickets = money for the Parish/County = less for the government to shell out.

    P.S. I probably would have acted the same way as you about it. Loved this post. So funny!