I released my first book, "B-Sides: rarities and unreleased works, vol. 01" back in December. I'm proud of it and I have heard good things from the people who read it. Basically, the book is a collection of stories that I wrote, either finished or unfinished, over the years. I got a new computer and began going through the files on the old one and realized there was a lot of content there. So, I turned it into a book.
I wrote one original piece specifically for the book, which is what you'll read below. I got arrested for a driving under the influence back in October of last year. Yes, a DUI. Not proud of it, but it happened. If you read the blog regularly and listen to the podcast, correcting that area of my life is something that I have been working on.
I can't help but to write about anything going on in my life, so I did. I actually started writing it the next afternoon once I got out of jail. I finished it about a week later. It is one of many stories included. Click here to see what else is included. A link to purchase "B-Sides" is at the end of the blog.
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"My Night In Jail," 2013
I'm a naturally anxious person. When I realized that older graduates from college were coming back in town for Homecoming, I got nervous. You see, I haven't graduated yet. At 27, I'm older than most of them, and it hurt me to see them come back for a nostalgia trip while this is still my life. So I avoided seeing them on campus. I felt horrible for seeing a familiar face and pretending like I didn't and walking the other way, but it's what I did.
Friday night, I was feeling dejected about how I had acted earlier. A friend posted on Facebook that he would be at a local bar. A few others liked the status and I saw this as my opportunity to make amends for earlier. I would see people and interact with them, with the added bonus of a little "liquid courage" to help stifle any awkwardness.
Long story short, I went to the bar and saw a couple people I knew. It was a decent-enough time. At around 2 am I walked back to my car. A friend wanted me to meet him at another bar closer to his house and mine. I started driving down the long, winding back road. I'm a naturally slow driver and I always get a little uncomfortable when people are behind me. I saw two or three cars behind me, so I sped up. That was a mistake.
I see the police lights go on behind me. "Shit," I think to myself as I pull over into a conveniently-placed parking lot. My window doesn't roll down, so I crack my door open and explain that to the officer. He says it's okay. He adds, "I pulled you over because I noticed your registration was expired." I say okay and he walks away. Relief hits me, but it's short lived as I hear in the distance "I smell a strong odor."
He asks me if I was drinking. I tell him I just left the bar. He asks where I'm going. The wrong answer is "another bar," so I tell him I'm going home. I make sure to tell him it's right down the road.
He asks me to step out of the car. There are three other officers there, along with the guy who pulled me over. He talks to me for a minute before getting the breathalyzer gun and having me blow. It's a surprisingly light atmosphere, with the cops laughing and talking. One of the cops guesses that I'd blow a .09, which is above the legal .08 limit. I laugh and say, "I'm shooting for a .07." He laughs and I stop listening after I hear "Point One" come out of his mouth, because any number after that doesn't matter. I'm screwed.
Or am I? He's talking to me and being cool, asking where I live. Another cop shines his light into my car and says he sees a bottle cap. The cop asks if I have beer in the car. I told him the truth - I didn't know how long I would be out and wanted to make sure I had beer in case I missed the 2 a.m. shutoff time. He told me he understood. That is, until he went over and saw that one was opened and emptied (presumably down my throat).
"You've had a little too much to drink tonight," he begins. "I'm gonna need you to put your hands behind your back." Well, shit. Now I'm arrested.
* * *
The ride to the police station surprisingly isn't that bad. I figured being handcuffed in the back of a police car would be more unpleasant. He leads me into a holding area, which is really just a modified garage. There's a bench and a nice office chair with wheels. He takes my handcuffs off and I sit in the chair. He tells me he'll be back.
After a while he comes back and I sign some paperwork. He asks if I need to use the bathroom and I go do that. He heads back for more paperwork and I take my seat again. The atmosphere is still light. I have my phone out and am texting my girlfriend who attends college in another state. She's freaking out a little bit and I'm telling her I think everything will be okay. I'm also texting my friend I was meeting at the bar about what's happening. He's offering to come get me if that's allowed. I tell him I'll keep him updated.
After about an hour, another arrested guy is brought in. He's a little more aggravated about his arrest, so his handcuffs stay on. They sit him on a bench away from me. I walk over to a vending machine. I'm thirsty and some Coke would hit the spot. It's $1.25 and it won't take my $5 bill. I contemplate asking the other prisoner if he has change, but I already felt bad flaunting my "freedom" in his face.
The officer comes back in and sets me up to get fingerprinted. It's high tech now, so there's no ink involved. You put your hand on a scanner and it creates an image of your fingerprints. Next is the mugshot. I stand facing a camera. He asks if I'm ready. Not wanting a Nick Nolte moment, I smooth down my hair and tell him yes. I feel like it would be pushing it if I ask if I can make a goofy face. Instead, I give a nice smile like I'm not being entered into a worldwide database of criminals.
* * *
The cop is really cool through all of this. He told me that since I was cool about everything he would try and make sure I received a "PR bond," which meant I was released from jail on my own "personal recognizance," which basically meant I wouldn't have to pay money to leave.
I'm being transported to a jail in the next city over. He puts handcuffs on me, then stops. "These are my good cuffs. I'll never get these back." He takes them off me and slaps on a different pair.
I get loaded into the back of a police car. It's a different cop taking me to jail. "I'm real tired," he says. "So, we're gonna fly down the road, okay?" That's okay with me.
People talk about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. If you can't get food, you can't worry about finding a place to live, etc. At that point, my needs were stripped down. I hate my job? Doesn't matter. I haven't graduated from college? Doesn't matter, I just got arrested. All of my problems, or what I perceived to be problems, were secondary at that moment. And, in a weird way, it was such a relief. That ride in the police car from Princeton to Bluefield, where I had my hands handcuffed behind my back, was one of the most relaxing moments of my life. There wasn't a care in the world because nothing else mattered.
I got to the police station. I was brought in and they started filling out paper work to keep me overnight. An older police officer was talking to me. What struck me as odd was that he had stubble on only his upper lip, like he had just decided to grow a mustache. He asked standard questions, if I was on any medication, had diabetes, heart disease, if I had ever tried to kill myself. He took my blood pressure. My shirt was getting in the way of making the cuff work, so he had me take my shirt off.
He looked at me in disbelief for a second. He was judging me. "A pink belt?" he said. I broke out my standard go-to line anytime somebody questions any aspect of my sexuality: "The ladies love it."
He had me sign a paper after he was done that had the answers to all those questions he asked me, in addition to my blood pressure. I looked at a comment that he wrote and thought it was funny: "Appears to be intoxicated."
I had to empty my pockets. I realized I didn't have my wallet with me, but then remembered I left it in the passenger seat of my car. I had my driver's license with me for some reason. I gave him my license, phone, and $36 I randomly had in my pocket. He told me to take off my belt. He looked at me for a second and said, "What's that thing in your lip called? A lip stud?" I took it out and put it in a large manilla envelope with the rest of my belongings. My hair was covering my ears so he didn't make me take out my earrings.
"What kind of shoes do you have on?" I looked down at my feet. "Slip on shoes?" He said those would be fine, as he walked over to a big closet and grabbed a blanket. So not only are Toms stylish and buying them helps out the less fortunate, they are also acceptable prison wear. It was at that point I noticed a few pairs of shoes lined against a wall.
The officer started walking me toward a cell and said something about the other inmates and that's when it hit me. For the first time since being arrested I was nervous. "You mean, there's gonna be other people in there?" At this point, it was like 4 in the morning. He assured me it would be okay. "They're all gonna be asleep."
He unlocked a cell and we walked in. I spotted three other inmates sleeping. There were four bed areas built into the wall, with one above it, kind of like bunk beds. So, the cell could house eight inmates. I was the fourth one. The bed was literally a metal slab connected to the wall. The officer woke up one of the guys and asked if he had any extra padding. The inmate groggily stood up and pulled a piece of foam padding off his bed and handed it to the officer. He walked over to a metal slab and put it on there for me.
"The phone's in here somewhere if you need it." We looked around for a second and I found it. I placed it on a picnic table that was built into the ground. It wasn't like the movies - a pay phone and you got one call. It was a cordless handset that I could use as I saw fit. With the advent of the cell phone the need to memorize numbers went by the wayside, so there was nobody for me to call even if I had wanted to.
The officer left and I looked around. I saw a partially-enclosed area that was the toilet. There would have been privacy had one guy not been sleeping in the bed that faced the toilet. But, he was asleep and it was dark. I went over and peed.
I sat down on my bed "Indian style" and wrapped the blanket around my shoulders. I looked at the three men sleeping around me. "There's no way I can sleep," I thought to myself. I started replaying the night to myself and wondering how it got to this point. "If only I'd stayed home," I thought. "Why did I need to go out and have fun?"
I started thinking more and realized that it was somewhere in the 4 o'clock neighborhood. I knew I'd be out in the morning. "Sleep would not be a bad idea right now," I told myself. I put my head down on the padding. I balled the blanket up to make a pillow, but my legs were cold. So, I folded part of the padding to create my own pillow. It was then that I realized the note on the police officer's paper might have been right - my head was spinning a little bit; maybe I was intoxicated.
* * *
My eyes open. Somebody flushed the toilet. First thought: I'm glad I didn't flush the toilet last night and wake everybody up. Second thought: Fuck, I'm in jail. I roll over and take in my surroundings. It's morning and the lights have been turned on. I see two men standing beside the table. They're talking. I roll back over and try to go back to sleep.
Words wake me up. I open my eyes again. My back is to everybody. I hear a man on the phone. "You know I didn't do it!" Of course he didn't do it, I think to myself. "I would never steal from him!" He started detailing what actually did happen. I closed my eyes and realized the sounds wouldn't stop. I turned back over and sat up. I looked at the picnic table and spotted a bottle of water. I walked over to the table and looked out of the cell. On the wall was a list of all the bond bailsmen in the area and their numbers.
I looked down at the breakfast spread they left for us: A few boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios with a container of milk and a Styrofoam take-away container. I opened it: biscuits and gravy, with bacon. I was kind of hungry, but I didn't know what this would do to my stomach and I didn't want to risk having to use the bathroom there. I grabbed the bottle of water and went back to my slab of metal.
I thought about sleeping again but didn't know if I could. The guy on the phone asked the person on the other line what time it was. Around 9 in the morning. I sat in bed and watched him argue with whoever he was on the phone with; I think it might have been a girlfriend or wife. He had one line that almost had me laughing out loud: "If I wanna get yelled at I'll get a cop down here!" He looked to be in his 40's and, not to judge, it looked like this wasn't his first time waking up in jail.
Eventually he got off the phone. The other two people were asleep and it was just us. He asked me what I was here for. I thought about the best way to word my next statement before finally answering, "I guess I got a DUI last night." He asked me a few more questions and we "BS'ed" a little bit before we heard two names called out. Coincidentally, they were mine and his.
We walked down the hallway together. An officer started talking to me about how he had meant to pick me up earlier but had been sent to the wrong jail. As I was signing paperwork to leave I noticed a large manilla envelope with my name on it. I glanced at it and saw that a list of all my possessions had been written on the outside. I chuckled to myself as I saw the words "lip stud" on there.
As we were walking to the police car the officer jokingly asks if I know kung fu. I say no. He says, "Just making sure you weren't gonna 'Judy Chop' me or something, so I don't have to cuff you." We got in the car and started to pull out. I looked out the window and saw the guy I had been talking with in jail. He smiled and waved at me. We were both free.
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