I spent the morning yelling at kids, gathering towels, looking for sand toys, and yelling at the kids some more. It was a Beach Day. The plan was to meet the kids’ grandmother at the beach at 10:00 AM, before it got crowded and parking was impossible. We were, as usual, running late. We backed out of the drive-way 15 minutes after the scheduled departure. It was a costly 15 minutes.
I got maybe a mile down the road when I saw the blue lights in the rear view mirror. ”Which one of you brats isn’t wearing a seat belt?” I roared to the back seat. (“Brats” is a term of endearment. Ahem.) The kids cried out in protest. I scanned the back seat and, sure enough, all 5 were restrained. I did a mental checklist. My tags were up-to-date. I was wearing my seat belt. I hadn’t used my car in an armed robbery. I didn’t steal the car. I was flummoxed.
The police officer approached the car and asked for my license. Before he even looked at it, he asked me if I was Ms. Quinney. That’s not a good sign. ”Yes, sir.” He asked me step out of the car. Again, “yes, sir.” (I am a very polite Southern girl. Especially to police officers who know my name.)
“You are driving with a suspended license. How many kids are in your car? Do you have someone who can come and get them and your car?”
“Because I can’t allow you to drive this car anywhere and I’m going to have to arrest you.”
“Ma’am, do you understand?”
“Yes, sir?” It was a question because I most certainly did not understand. My husband was pulled over twice with a suspended license (don’t ask why, it wasn’t anything serious) and both times the officer impounded his truck and had somebody come get him. He wasn’t arrested.
“Somebody has to come get the car. Normally, I’d impound the vehicle, but since you have the kids with you…” Oh. Super cop was being generous. ”Can you call someone?” I nodded and headed back to my car. “Miss, you don’t want to call anyone who might cause a scene.”
Well, that certainly left my husband out. I know that man of mine and he wasn’t going to let his wife be hauled off in handcuffs. Again. (Yes, I’ve been in handcuffs before. Read about that here.) I called my mother-in-law, who was convinced he was staking me out. Why else would he run my plates?
Turns out, Corporal James R. Hollingsworth (yes, that’s his real name and isn’t it fantastic?) ran everybody’s plates because what with the murders and America’s Most Wanted capturing escaped criminals all over this little town (true story), it’s an excellent use of his time. When he comes across a land yacht with 7 of those adorably cheesy family stick figures on the window, backing out of the driveway, he runs the plates, and sees suspended license for a “failure to appear in court” over a lame-o “no proof of insurance” ticket–which is absurd since in the state of Georgia, every cop can see if a person has insurance simply by running their plates–and there are five kids in the back, obviously equipped to go to the beach, and a
hardened criminal frightened woman who obviously had no idea her license was suspended, he decided that, yes, she should be arrested and taken to jail immediately, with no regard for the overcrowded prison cells and the colossal waste of time it is since she won’t be held and they won’t even be able to collect bond for her crimes. Or maybe he just didn’t like people who write in run-on sentences.
I called my friend to tell her the hilarious story. It wasn’t until I was talking to her that I remembered I was dressed for the beach. I would be taken to jail in my bathing suit, cover-up, and flip-flops with my greasy hair in a bun and no make-up on my face. My mug shot would be awesome.
The kids realized we weren’t going to the beach and the whining started. ”I’m going to jail and I would appreciate it if you didn’t cry because you can’t go to the beach! How about a little perspective here?” That shut them up.
Billy (the 6yo) offered some advice. “Forget about the police. Just drive away.” When I didn’t start driving, he made a suggestion. ”Can’t you just punch the policeman in the face?” I worry about that kid’s future.
The MIL arrived and the nice policeman took me to the side of the police car. He opened the door (to shield the horrific and potentially trauma-inducing sight from the children) and asked me to place my hands behind my back. He cuffed me. ”Is that too tight?”
He put me in the back of the police car. I was officially arrested, though he didn’t read me my Miranda Rights. Isn’t that, you know, a requirement? You’d think Officer Hollingsworth, that most conscientious of peacekeepers, would remember that. He drove away (too fast) and I realized that yes, indeed, the cuffs were too tight and that there is no way to get comfortable in the back of a police car with your arms wrenched behind your back and your knees jammed into the metal seat back. On top of that, my glasses were inching down my nose, which is really annoying. I have back problems, too, and every bump gave me a spasm. It was miserable.
And then it got worse. My arresting officer started flipping through radio stations. He found one he liked. ”Turn your knob to BOB 106.9! Savannah’s home for new countryyyyy!” The voice of Kenny Chesney oozed out of the radio speakers:
”The sun and the sand and a drink in my hand with no bottom
And no shoes, no shirt, and no problems!”
Jostling around in the back seat of a police cruiser, en route to the jailhouse, I finally understood the concept of “cruel and unusual punishment.”
To be continued…