First of all, forgive me if I either a) blog too much this week because I'm procrastinating on the housecleaning I need to do to prepare for my dad's arrival or b) blog too little because I'm in over my head with the filth and squalor I've allowed to accumulate in the house for the last month.
Second, because change is what we do as a family (um, like the fact that we're living in our 6th state in 5 years) and we never sit still for very long, I've got a few cool things I'd like to tell you about as more details get fleshed out. We're excited! AND I'd love to share now, but you know - phone calls need to happen, experts need to be consulted, signatures need scribbling, etc. So. In due time, my friends.
And now, because you're all antsy wondering if we're moving to Europe or adopting a heard of llamas or have sold the rights to our nutty lives to MTV for a reality show, I'll take your mind off the wondering with another crazy story.
I don't know how many of you have been to jail. I'd imagine that the number is pretty small... I don't so much appeal to the rough crowd with my subject matter. I, however, have been. Not just TO jail, but IN jail. Strip-searched, jumpsuit-wearing, mug-shot, booked-next-to-a-dude-covered-in-blood-style jail. In a cop car. In handcuffs.
It. Was. Not. Awesome.
Justin and I had been married all of 3 months and we were getting ready to move to our first stop in the Navy journey from our college town in Indiana. One afternoon, I decided to head to the mall to pick up a birthday gift for my sister, and, after a really lame cruise through the stores where nothing really jumped out at me, I decided to purchase a shirt for her and call it a day. I had parked outside a department store, so I meandered back through that store on my way out. While I was passing through, I noticed a rack of sunglasses for sale at 50% off. I paused there, since I had lost my sunglasses on my honeymoon, and decided to try on a few pairs. I'd don a pair, look in the tiny mirror, shift that pair to my head, try another, swap them, and so on. Eventually, discouraged and unwilling to settle on a pair that I didn't absolutely love, I just sighed and left the store.
Or, rather, tried to leave the store.
I had one hand on the bar on the door and had pushed it open and stepped one foot on the concrete when someone came from behind me and shoved me against the open door with two hands in the middle of my back, jamming a hard, cold object into my side.
"Give us the merchandise!" someone growled at me. I blinked, too shocked to respond with anything other than a guttural "Huh?" "The merchandise, give it back to us right now."
The assailant stepped back and I realized it was a Taser they had held against me, and instead of the robber I thought I was dealing with, it was a security guy from the store. I asked again what they were talking about and held out the shopping bag that contained the shirt I had purchased at a different store. The guy shook his head and insisted again I return their merchandise. All of a sudden it dawned on me: I must have left a pair of sunglasses on top of my head and walked out with them.
"Oh no! Ooops!" I said, aghast at my stupidity, "I'm so sorry! Here, do you want me to go put them back or should I pay for them? I'm so sorry!"
The guy (who looked maybe 12 years old) shook his head and said, "You're going to need to come with me." I assumed we were going to talk to a manager or something as we meandered through the store to a little hallway into the bowels of the place. He shoved me - shoved me - into a teeny little room full of video screens and a desk. At this point, it was becoming clear that I was dealing with a person whose meager amount of power had gone to his head. I asked him if there was any way I could just pay for the glasses and go home. I told him it was a total mistake and that I was sorry - I would have gotten to my car and seen them on my head and gone right back in to pay for them. He informed me that I'd have gotten in trouble then, too, as leaving with the goods constitutes theft and they have a zero tolerance policy. "So you reward honesty with punishment?" I asked? "No, we punish thieves," he said.
So there I sat. My cell phone started ringing as Justin was wondering where I was and why I hadn't come home yet. The guy yelled at me and took my purse and said I couldn't make any phone calls or receive any. That the police officer would determine if I could make any calls.
Woah. POLICE OFFICER?!
Yeah. Police officer. I don't know WHAT took the guy so long, but I was actually excited that he was on his way. I figured he'd get there, I could explain what happened, he'd see that this whole thing was a waste of time and let me go home to my husband.
He didn't. Instead, he grabbed my upper arm, hoisted me up and slapped cuffs on me. Literally. And double-locked them. Yes, that's a thing. Double locking. It hurt. He ushered me out of the store, and the whole time I had convinced myself that this was just a scare tactic or even a sick joke. I even thought he was a little kidding when he shoved me in the back of his cruiser and started driving.
The officer asked me what my address was and I felt so relieved because he was just going to take me home! I told him and sat back, smiling. All of a sudden, though, he turned left instead of right. My stomach plummeted and I asked where we were going. "To jail," he said, "You're being charged with a felony."
My life came to a screeching halt at that moment. I couldn't even breathe and I started to feel light-headed and I began, I think, to cry. "What?" "Yep, you screwed the pooch, sister." He then proceeded to call Justin, who was terrified that I had been gone so long, only to freak him out further by telling him he had to meet us at the county jail to bail his newlywed wife out. The officer further attempted to assuage my fears by telling me all about how my husband would probably have to divorce me because my felony would ruin his security clearance and possibly get him kicked out of the Navy.
I'd love to tell you that I was strong and kept calm and had sassy attitude stemming from my confidence in my innocence.
But that was certainly NOT the case. I was something of a disaster. By the time we got to the jail, I could barely function. Once we got there, they made me strip down ENTIRELY (apparently to make sure I wasn't hiding other merchandise in my under-garments) and take off all of my jewelry, including my sparkly new wedding ring. Then they made me wear a jumpsuit and the icky Keds and then they took me over to get booked, finger-printed, mug-shot, etc.
No, I'm totally not joking.
The guy they were booking me next to kept claiming his name was Al Pacino and he was in for murder 1. He was covered in blood. And smelled like a sewer. I ended up getting charged with a Class A misdemeanor because the sunglasses were over $55 - not a felony; turns out the officer was just "having fun with me". (And I can assure you that if I had known that, I wouldn't have tried them on in the first place!) AND the booking officer thought I was cute so he printed my mug-shot out to hang on the wall. Humiliating. Utterly devastating.
Thankfully, Justin had arrived and bailed me out before I was even processed, so I didn't need to get put in the "tank" with all the other criminals and was able to just change back into my clothes and go home.
It was horrific - beyond any mortification I could ever imagine. I ended up pleading out and just doing some community service and letting a year pass to clear my record, rather than fight it because I would have had to travel back to Indiana to contest it in court and hire an attorney and all that. So I just dealt with it. But to this day my skin crawls at the idea of walking through a department store and I never, ever, EVER buy sunglasses. If I need to replace them, I either order them online or have someone else purchase them for me.
So there you have it: your friendly, neighborhood zookeeper is actually a hardened criminal whose perky picture is on the wall of some sketchy jail in Indiana. I don't wear bracelets and I don't buy sunglasses. And I think police officers can be extraordinarily mean.
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