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APRIL 9, 2012 9:29AM

You’ll have to come with us: My petty crime arrest

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300px-Arrest
 
I was 23 and the cops came to my apartment and arrested me. Drug dealing? Arms trafficking? White collar crime? No. I had a series of bicycle offenses in addition to speeding and/or driving without a license, I forget exactly, and I therefore had a warrant out for my arrest. I come from the Midwest. I’d already been to bike school as a kid—that was the closest I ever got to juvie. I sat in the back of the room with a big attitude as I was reminded of the bicycle regulations by a cop. You had to take bike classes on Saturdays if you were stopped for more than three offenses. That was the kind of suburb I grew up in—the cops had time for that

But now I was in Madison, Wisconsin, a student at the U, and I was perfectly aware I had a warrant out on me. I had gotten a letter in the mail stating such. I gloried in it and told everyone I knew. You got stopped for bike offenses in Madison as well and also one day I had driven my roommate’s dumpy old car to the grocery store and gotten stopped for speeding. And I guess it was that I didn’t have my license with me, although I possessed one. I was supposed to bring it in and pay the ticket and I never did either. I had gotten actual tickets for my bike offenses as well, which I had failed to pay.

So I knew I was somewhat of a fugitive, and I tried to take due precaution. “I can’t get busted for anything,” I’d say to people at parties, usually while huffing on a joint, staying adequately close to the keg. I went into a concert at the coliseum once with five cans of beer lined up in this ridiculous flat, rectangular purse I had—red with gold flecks it in and it matched my Wizard-of-Oz red shoes. The purse was flat at least without the five cans of beer in it. “Any cans or bottles?” the security guy said to me. “No,” I said—high, of course. “Open the bag,” he said. He pulled out one can after another.

I was taken out of the crowd and back to a room somewhere, to the alarm of my older sister and our friends. A cop was there and they called me in, made sure everything was straight—and it was, because I told them I was my sister. I gave them her name and birth date and address. We lived together, with two other girls. And I even got let back into the concert—I put up a little argument, that I had paid for the ticket, and now that I didn’t have the beer I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I might have even said they owed me for the beer. “And I have a clean record,” I said. “You just checked me out.” I think I added that it would be criminal to keep me from this band.

I found my sister and told her I had had to say I was her. I was a fugitive and she knew it. I scored huge points with all the friends, most of which were hers, and I think my sister was even kind of proud of me. She’s only 13 months older than I.

All went well for some time, what with my vigilance and everything. And I was in my apartment that evening of my arrest, hanging out with a guy who was more or less my boyfriend. Yeah, he was my boyfriend, but I didn’t really like him that much, and things had been kind of going down the tubes. My intercom rang and I thought it was this guy we were planning on buying a little pot from, so I buzzed him in without asking who it was. My boyfriend and I were in the midst of smoking a joint, and I opened the door after the knock and a cop was standing there.

Holy shit, I thought. My boyfriend had a little cocaine on him as well—this was the 80’s after all. He did have the wherewithal to put the joint out in the background. I say this because he had never been quite clever enough for me but at least this time he came through. And then we both had the nerve to cop an attitude with the police officer and treat him with derision. He said I had to come with him, I had a warrant out for my arrest, and I said, fine, I had to brush my teeth first, which I did, as he stood there.

“It’s Friday night,” my boyfriend said petulantly, which to this day strikes me as an idiotic comment—how dare the cops arrest college students on their main night out. I locked my apartment door and walked down the three flights of stairs with my boyfriend and the cop, who wasn’t a whole lot older than we were. There was another cop outside and they never handcuffed me or anything but I had to put my hands up on the roof of the car while they patted me down. A couple of people were stopping to watch by now, as was, of course, my boyfriend.

I got in the back seat of the car. I was just slightly unnerved, but interested, and high—quite. At the station I had to have paperwork filled out, which was simple. I sat at a table. Then I was put in a holding cell. It was just I and a black man, who was around 40. He looked fairly bummed out. Okay, I’m in a holding cell, I said to myself. This is a pretty pass.

I don’t know what else I exactly thought as I stood there waiting, maybe a little about my life, which was quite an all-around mess at this point. So there was a sense in which this episode was really nothing more than the icing on the cake. It was fitting and almost a relief, practically restful.

It wasn’t too long before a cop came to get me, though probably an hour had passed. I had been standing there for some while thinking whatever I was thinking. My boyfriend had apparently come and paid $90 bucks to get me out. He was waiting there with another guy we knew. And we got to leave and that was about it. Though I was technically out on bail and I had to go pay my tickets and present my license the first chance I got, which I did.

I thanked my boyfriend but I felt odd in front on him now, embarrassed, without quite knowing why. Maybe this whole thing made me feel that he had something up on me. Or maybe it was the way he seemed so pleased and almost smug as we went out that night. I went around telling everyone what had happened—adding to my repertoire as it were.

And I heard him telling someone too about how he was glad they had put me up against the car and searched me. “Great, humiliate _ _ _ _ _ more,” he told them he had been thinking. He had liked that and he was telling people now. There was something wrong here. Well, guess what? He broke up with me about a week later and started going out with Rita, this real earth-mother type. This took some nerve. I was the one who didn’t even like him that much.

Sure, I had gotten arrested, big deal. My grades were in the toitie, and other aspects of my life were similarly out of control. But I was sensitive and poetic and he didn’t even realize it. To prove it I put his guilt break-up flowers down the garbage disposal one at a time after he left—which almost broke it by the way. And that same night another friend put large screws through the cuffs of my denim jacket so they were sticking out. He rode me around to bars on the back of his mountain bike where I got triple wasted. And I never paid the guy back his $90 either.

 

 

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Comments

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Besides stealing a bike, what other Bike crimes can you get arrested for?
Bike fines? Well Arlo Guthrie got an album and movie out of dumping garbage in a garbage dump at the wrong time of day. As you say, cops have moved on since those days.
This is hilarious. You might want to hide it from your son though--at least until he's 25 or so.
You came out ahead: $90, got rid of a looser, and got a great story to tell.
Hilarious little asides in this arrest story--brushing your teeth as the cop waited, the flowers in the garbage disposal. The way you told this is so understated and humorous. Sounds like you really needed a different kind of guy as well.
Very humorously told, and I must say, I think your sister must be a very patient person not to mind you using her name etc. You've come a long way since then.
Best sentence: "All went well for some time, what with my vigilance and everything."
Best sentence: "All went well for some time, what with my vigilance and everything."
Obviously, they were right about marijuana being a gateway drug: You're now pathetically addicted to Open Salon.

And I bet your residence is full of stolen bikes....

It's inspiring to see our tax dollars at work. So when are you going to write about your days of sneaking into movie theaters without paying, you wild kid ya?
Hello. Good and funny writing. You could write bits for Chelsea Handler (I kind of heard her voice). Nice to meet you at last. Hey... where's my bike?
R
It's Friday night. No one should be arrested on a Friday night. It, like, should be against the law.
That's hilarious and great training for being a high school teacher. I was a juvenile delinquent myself and a kick-ass teacher. You just gotta be a little bad to relate to the average urban teenager. Oddly, I've never been searched, but I've been handcuffed and put in a paddy wagon, mostly when I was a kid hanging out in the Haight. Other stuff scares you less when you've been in jail.
This is just great. Love the humor and the writing. Nice job.
It's a steal for 90 bucks, great story. I once got a disciplinary for relieving myself in a public place in Glasgow- I was drunk out of my nut at 4 in the morning and needed to go badly, and lost in the middle of nowhere with no memory of how I'd got there. No cabs, no shops or ppl in the vicinity.

Decided to find myself a quiet corner and chance it, and hey here's a cop car! 40 pound fine and a ride home; can't complain. Amazing wee receipt that says "fined for public nuisance" - bet I'm still proud of it.
It's a steal for 90 bucks, great story. I once got a disciplinary for relieving myself in a public place in Glasgow- I was drunk out of my nut at 4 in the morning and needed to go badly, and lost in the middle of nowhere with no memory of how I'd got there. No cabs, no shops or ppl in the vicinity.

Decided to find myself a quiet corner and chance it, and hey here's a cop car! 40 pound fine and a ride home; can't complain. Amazing wee receipt that says "fined for public nuisance" - bet I'm still proud of it.
I didn't even know there were bike crimes. And, I thought you could do ANYTHING in Madison. r
nothing like gettin' your buzz on and then being hauled to the bright lights of the po'-lice station - a rite of passage in Mad City, or so I hear