Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Smooth Criminal

The minute the cops approached me at the bar I knew I was toast. It was the regular Saturday night round up of underage drinkers at Stillwaters, a bar near the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Many people could get away with a quick cop interview, showing them their fake ID, and laughing in a mature fashion, but I, a 20 year old man still barely able to get into a PG-13 movie without being hassled, was not one of them. Yet I was not afraid of a night in a holding cell, for in truth I was anxious to get back to jail, where just 3 weeks beforehand I had had one of the best Sundays of my life.

I had a moped at school that was useful for driving to class on the University’s spectacularly spread out campus. It also had the added benefit of making me look completely ridiculous, as a man tooling around on his moped in 10-degree weather ought to. On the aforementioned Sunday I had offered my younger brother a ride to his dorm and he hopped on the back, giving me a look that said, “please don’t be drunk.” We took off, and as we raced down Langdon Street I heard sirens as a couple of gruff looking cops pulled us over. Apparently, it was illegal to have two people on a moped. This was not a big deal. Unfortunately a cursory check of my driver’s license revealed a slightly bigger deal. There was a warrant out for my arrest and I was placed in the squad car.

It turns out that I had forgotten to pay a ticket I had received a few months earlier for “Person Making Unreasonable Noise.” The noise in question was not so much unreasonable as it was misdirected. I had thought my roommates had locked me out of my apartment and had flown into a rage. It took the cops showing up to make me realize that I was banging, kicking, and screaming in front of someone else’s apartment.

As I was driven to jail I pondered that not paying the ticket may have been a mistake. Despite a lifetime of degenerative behavior I had thus far avoided jail, and the last thing I wanted to be doing was spending the Sunday of a big Wisconsin football game stuck in a dingy cell. I called my friends and told them that I would need to be bailed out as all my money was wrapped up in an online poker account. They said they would be down right away and actually sounded worried for my safety. Perhaps they, just as my brother did, assumed I was drunk and would perhaps find a way to make this situation far worse.

Upon entering the complex I was strip-searched. This was no big deal as I had obviously hidden my drugs in my moped and luckily no remnants were found. I was then led into the main area. Astoundingly, I was startled to see that, as opposed to the rank dungeon I expected, the jail looked brand new, like a showcase on the Price is Right. There was a large open-air common space with couches and a skylight, and artwork dotted the walls. Still, I was nervous, as I had heard stories of insane drunken derelicts rounded up on the streets of Madison, continuing their misbehavior in the prisons themselves. It didn’t help that I wasn’t exactly dressed for prison. My chinos and sweater vest made me look like Little Man Tate. Thus, I timidly stepped into the cell.

I was greeted by about 7 men, not with a yell or even a stony silence, but with a series of extremely pilot questions about my well-being. They asked if the cops were too hard on me and if the handcuffs had hurt my wrists. A man who looked like a friendly old librarian asked if the cops had caused the rip on my sleeve. It was as if, by virtue of being the kind of man who makes unreasonable noise, I had been inducted into the friendliest fraternity on earth. I took a chair and noticed that there was a large T.V. in the corner. I inquired into whether we could actually watch it, and not only could we, we had the remote and access to more channels then I had in my dorm room. We all settled into watch the football game, making small bets with each other, and laughing at a man named Dingo’s hilarious Regis Philbin impression.

Some time later a cop called my name and said that I had been bailed out. I looked at my watch and I couldn’t believe that nearly five hours had passed. I said some mournful goodbyes to my new chums and we all promised to keep in touch (by this point we had exchanged email addresses). I exited the jail to find five of my friends sitting in the visitor’s area. They had pooled their money to pay my $500 dollar bail and had clearly been waiting for quite a long time. I regaled them with tales of my new friends and the exciting football game that they had somehow missed. They did not seem much interested in how much fun I had had.  So I left them there, and leisurely strolled to my moped to collect my drugs. 


Blogger Arturo Bikini said...

The noise in question was not so much unreasonable as it was misdirected.

Good to see you posting again. And I mean that in the most obsequious way possible.

12:26 PM  

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