I’m sorry, I thought it was November 6th—–oh, it IS November 6th? Why the FACK is it 70 degrees and sunny outside? By this time of year, I want to be frolicking about in galoshes, wearing a fur-trimmed parka and singing “Sleigh Bells” everywhere I go, not confusing my back yard with a sunny San Diego boardwalk and applying SPF. Has Mother Earth been drinking? It’s not June, Ma. Get with the program.
On that note, I went to jail today. Yeap. Moral of the story, before I tell it, is that unpaid speeding tickets = warrant for arrest. This afternoon as I was on my way to an appointment, I was cruising down a road going 40 in a 35. Not being too crazy. Suddenly I see a sheriff pull out of a nearby driveway and turn his lights on behind me. “Peculiar,” I thought. “What did I do?”
I cheerfully pull over, and get out my license and registration. The officer moseys up to the driver’s side of my car and greets me. “Ma’am, do you know why I pulled you over today?”
“Actually,” I said truthfully, “this time, I don’t!”
“You were speeding. Technically, you were going 40 in a 35, which is fine, but you were driving through a school zone during school hours, meaning the speed limit is reduced to 25 in that time. Really, you were going 15 miles per hour over the limit.”
I was perplexed, seeing as there were no signs alerting me to the speed change, and I had been otherwise following the rules of the road. But, as always, I pleasantly cooperated, and the officer returned to his patrol car while I waited patiently in my front seat. Finally the policeman returns, and demands that I get out of my vehicle.
“Ma’am, are you aware that there is a warrant out for your arrest in the city of Mission?” he asked.
Unfortunately, nine months prior, I had received a speeding ticket on my way to the airport. A speeding ticket that I failed to pay, due to my forgetfulness and otherwise resistance to pay it, hoping that I would just get away with it once I no longer lived in Kansas. Too bad that failed.
I get cuffed, and crawl into the back of the cop car. From there I was briefly sent to the Gardner police station, and from there moved to the Johnson County Adult Detention Center until my bail was posted.
I arrive, and they immediately strip me of all metal items, jewelry, piercings, etc. Then I was handed a striped jailbird shirt and some shoes without laces (incase I decided that life was no longer worth living and attempted to strangle myself with my shoelaces), and locked in a cell with the angriest girl I have ever seen. Apparently, this girl had taken anywhere between 10 and 22 Xanax the night before, and had washed it down with a bottle of champagne after having a miscarriage. From there she assaulted her boyfriend who called the police on her and charged her with felony battery. She spent our time together banging on the doors, threatening the officers, and using the word “fuck” in every form imaginable.
After about an hour, I was removed from the holding cell, and patted down, photographed (my mug shots are foxy), finger-printed, and then moved into a larger cell with five or six other incarcerated women. Three women were sleeping on the shitty mats on the floor. Another black girl with “Fuck what you heard” tattooed on her right forearm, was crying and repeating that she was going to kill her boyfriend for talking her into turning herself in for whatever it was she did. My psycho pill-popping roomie from before was bitching and trying to call people from the collect phone we had. Clearly I was out of place. The oldest cell mate, a woman whose name I never got, was remaining calm and telling all us youngsters to make it easier on ourselves by not throwing a fit, and realizing that we WOULD get out eventually. She called us all “baby,” and “mama,” and found me quite amusing. Let’s call her “Mama.” Mama was currently in for driving without a valid license, but had been in prison before for beating the shit out of her husband with a Venetian blind after catching him in bed with two other women in their bedroom after work one day.
You see, I knew I wouldn’t be doing myself any favors by bitching and complaining and making the police’s life difficult, so I had been as pleasant as a peach from beginning to end so far. I had a bail bond of $205, and wasn’t carrying any cash on me, meaning that Trent was going to have to bail me out. Unfortunately, when I tried to call him from the collect phone in my cell, it wouldn’t allow collect calls, meaning I could not get ahold of him. This was a problem. Mama shouted, “Baby, you ain’t get yo free phone call? You’re entitled to a free call—ain’t none of these collect phones work, ‘less you got a direct line or sum’n.”
I informed her that they said this phone wasn’t actually collect, but apparently that wasn’t true. “This is the only person I can call,” I said. “What do I do?”
She showed me a buzzer on the wall and told me if I pressed it someone would come. “Now, you gotta be straight up wit ’em, honey,” she said. “Tell em you demand yo free phone call, and they gotta give it to ya!” Mama advised. I felt like being a polite diplomat would be my best bet, and didn’t immediately take her advice. I pressed the buzzer and eventually a male officer shuffled over and asked me what I wanted.
“Yes, sorry, you see, my fiance’s cell phone doesn’t accept collect calls, and he’s the one posting my bail. Is it possible for me to use a different phone out there?” I asked.
The man looked irritated for a moment, and then said he would see what he could do, and walked away.
I turned around, and Mama shook her head. “Baby, they ain’t gon do NUTTIN for you if you give ’em a story,” she said. “You gotta tell ’em you are entitled to that free call!” I nodded my head, but still thought my politeness would pay off. Eight or ten minutes go by, and no one has returned to aid me. I buzz the button again. No one comes. I am dismayed. Mama stands up and says, “Baby, you betta learn to become a soldier in here, mhm! You’re gonna grow some TOUGH on ya before you get out of here, y’heard? Let me do this.” She gets up and buzzes the buzzer a dozen times. A different officer comes to the cell door.
Mama says, “Officer, this girl right here never got her free phone call, which she is EN-TI-TLED to,” she demanded. The woman stares at Mama and then stares at me, and reluctantly leads me over to a different phone. I try calling Trent again. THIS time, this particular phone doesn’t allow out-of-area area codes. I get the attention of the male officer from before, and alert him to my problem. He acts very annoyed and gives me another phone. This time it actually works, and Trent tells me he is on his way.
I march back to my cell, and now it is just Fuck What You Heard and myself, alone. Everyone else had been moved downstairs. We sit for awhile and she cries and tells me what’s happening. Apparently her bond had been posted hours before, and for some reason they weren’t letting her go. We started making jokes about all the things we weren’t allowed to have in the cells, and laughing about who in the world was able to hurt themselves or others with things like buttons and high heels, enough so that they were forbidden for prisoners to have in their cells.
About an hour later, we are moved to a larger jail cell. Mama is in there, along with a girl covered in bruises with bite marks all over her bottom lip, an overweight black woman with a beard who kept falling asleep WHILE eating (?), a girl kind of like me, a cracked out 40-something lady with smudged, bright blue eye shadow, and another crazy lady with dyed black hair whose grey roots had grown out a good two or three inches. Mama immediately starts making fun of how “inexperienced” of an inmate I was to everyone else, chuckling at my naive politeness with the officers before. Then she apologized and kept trying to get everyones’ spirits up, and reminding us all that it could be a lot worse, and that we would be out soon.
About ten minutes later, “dinner” was served. A weird brown tray with overcooked noodles, plain slices of carrots, a pile of plain old lettuce with no dressing, a spoonful of butter, one salt packet, and a shitty piece of cake was served to each of us. Needless to say, I didn’t have much of an appetite.
It was now 4:30 pm. I had been in this jail limbo for 4.5 hours. I was getting antsy. I was also VERY concerned, seeing as Fuck What You Heard had been bonded out at 1 pm, and she STILL hadn’t been released. Trent wasn’t here until 3:30 pm, so for all I knew, I was in for a long, gross night in jail.
Another hour goes by. Mama turns the tv to CSI and starts making comments about how she would give the main male character “some” if she had the chance, along with six or seven other men that she listed. Mama also pointed at the bruised up girl and said, “Girl, no offense, but you look like SHIT. What the hell happen’ to you?”
The girl fidgeted a bit and then burst out that she had had a seizure from alcohol withdrawal after drinking vodka continuously for a week straight. She had repeatedly bitten her lip, so it was the size of a thumb, blue and yellow and scabbed over completely. It was disgusting. She had IV marks and bruises on both arms, dark circles under her eyes, and a hospital bracelet.
That got awkward really quickly, so Mama changed the subject to the fact that she was going to get high as a kite the moment she got home. “I’m s’posed to be goin’ babysittin, but after all this shit? Mmm, mmm, no way. I’m gon’ get home and gethiiiiigh!” I laughed.
Finally one of the policemen knocked on the window and pointed at me, and mouthed “Sheppard.” I pointed at myself aloofly, and he nodded. I was confused, seeing as Fuck What You Heard still hadn’t been released, but I stood up and shuffled over to the door. I was bonded out! I was so excited. After being given all my things back and signing some paperwork, I saw Trent through one of the windows into the lobby. What a relief. Too bad he was pissed (obviously).
But that was my jail experience. It sucked ass, and I feel like I brought back more germs than you’d find in a landfill in Vegas. Needless to say, I will not be putting off paying any more speeding tickets, or tickets in general.
Officer: “Alright, I’m going to search through your purse now, okay?”
Me: “You’re not going to go stealing my lip gloss or anything, are you?”
Officer: “Well that depends on what color it is.”