Friday, October 08, 2010

18 Hours as a Fugitive

Last night when I got home from work, I tossed some junk mail onto the growing pile that has been accumulating for weeks, just waiting for me to make that long 10 step journey to the recycle bin.  This was feeling like the right time to take it out so I flipped through the stack just to make sure no "real" mail accidentally got mixed in.

Sure enough,  I came across an envelope from the City Court of Lafayette.  I noticed they included my maiden name which I never use but it appears on my drivers license.  Being smarter than your average bear, I deduced that this must have something to do with the ticket I got several months ago for having an expired inspection sticker.

The fee for that ticket was payable only by money order or cashier's check which is inconvenient for me so I put off paying it until the very last minute.  It was due on October 4 and I mailed it in on October 1.  I thought maybe the check was late so this was probably their standard nastygram they send out warning you of dire consequences unless you pay immediately.  I live in the world of the check and the past due notice crossing in the mail so this idea didn't phase me one bit.

Then I actually opened the envelope and saw "Notice of Arraignment" at the top.  To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what arraignment means but I've seen enough legal dramas on TV to know that it isn't good.  My first thought was, "oh shit".  Can I say that here?  Sure I can, it's my blog.  I'm a recovering potty mouth and the only time words like that slip out is when something happens that causes me extreme distress or when using them would be really funny.  This was one of those uncontrollable distress utterances.

I read the whole thing but focused mainly on the part about if I didn't appear in court on October 4 a warrant would be issued for my arrest.  I opened my date book to see what I was doing on October 4 (I'm not lying, I checked my date book) and sure enough, I was not in court that day.

Once the initial shock passed and I was able to think more clearly, I decided that they hadn't received my payment on time and this is just standard procedure for when that happens.  To verify my theory, I took a closer look at the outer envelope to check the postmark date.  It was sent on September 9!  This caused me to repanic and I started wracking my brain trying to think of any other crimes I had recently committed.  Nothing came to mind (although I neglected to check my date book on this one) so I settled back in with my inspection sticker ticket.

When you get a traffic ticket in the great state of Louisiana, there is a phone number on the back that you have to call 2 days after the ticket is issued to find out what your fine is and when it's due.  I did manage to follow those instructions in a timely manner and the gal who answered the phone told me that my fine was $105.00 and it was due on October 4.  I can't remember the exact date that I got the ticket but it was several months ago.  I do remember commenting to her about the due date and she said something about me having  plenty of time to come up with the money so I was fairly certain I had written down the correct due date.  After I hung up I wrote directly on the ticket "$105.00" and "October 4" then stuck it in my date book.

Still more than slightly concerned that this arraignment notice thing had been mailed out in September, way in advance of my due date, I fished around in my purse and did manage to find the receipt for my money order.  This made me feel a little better since I was fairly certain I was going to have to produce proof of payment to someone at some time.  Then I got to thinking about that due date.  It was given to me over the phone by a gal whose name I did not ask for.  If push came to shove, it would be my word against hers and since I didn't know who she was I was looking pretty screwed.  I was almost comforted by the fact that I had written the due date on the ticket but then I remembered that I mailed the ticket with my payment and didn't bother to make a copy for myself.  Obviously that thing I said earlier about being smarter than the average bear was a big fat lie.

I had pretty much decided that I wrote down the wrong due date, my payment was due way back in September, and Dog the Bounty Hunter would be knocking on my door at any minute.  I took inventory of my general appearance and decided that I'd look right at home in jail.  I had changed clothes after work and put on a ratty t-shirt that I would probably end up sleeping in as well and a pair of shorts that are not fit for pubic viewing.  This didn't bother me at all since I gave up caring about fashion when I graduated from high school and became responsible for buying my own clothes.  They are nothing more than a necessity to cover nudity, I could care less what they look like.  Seeing a mug shot in my future I actually perked up a little since I was having a fairly decent hair day and had no obvious zits, rashes or unruly nose hairs to deal with.  Then I looked down and noticed that I was in dire need of a pedicure and I hoped Dog would let me put on tennis shoes before dragging me off to the pokey.

Before my imagination got too far ahead of me I decided to take another look at the envelope of doom.  I reverified that the postmark date was indeed in September and I chastised myself for letting the junk mail pile up like it did without doing a thorough search.  In my own defense, I really think that whoever it is that mails out that big wad of ads and sale circulars every Wednesday should be held at least partially responsible.  It's so easy to lose good mail in that wad of junk.  I made a mental note to find out who that person is cuz if I go down, they're going with me.

As I stared at the postmark it dawned on me that this couldn't really be that important because it was sent by regular mail.  I wasn't served and it didn't even show up by certified mail.  I've been in enough trouble before to know that when something shows up by certified mail, they mean business.  I've been served before, too, but that's a story for another time.  So, I let go of it and decided not to waste one more second even thinking about it.

Okay, so that didn't happen.  I thought about it for the rest of the evening and most of today but instead of worrying I just had a little fun with it.  I started to imagine what it would be like to actually get arrested and have to spend the night in jail.  The blogging possibilities alone were making me giddy!!  Plus, I do like to try new things and this would definitely be new for me.  I know how to post bail for someone else but I've never been on the other side of that equation.

Jayson loves to watch Lockup on MSNBC so I was feeling like I had a good idea of what to expect should I get thrown in the slammer.  I knew I would be finger printed and given an unflattering orange jumpsuit to wear but I totally blocked out that part where they make you squat and cough...that simply would NOT be happening in my jailhouse fantasy.  I've never seen the parish jail but I envisioned being in a large holding cell with several other women who were prostitutes, drug addicts, or both.  I bet they would have some fascinating stories!

I figured it would be rough at first because they always pick on the new girl and they would see me as an easy target.  But while they were trying to pick a fight with me, I would use my lightening wit to overpower them and make them laugh, then we would all be best friends.  We would sit in a circle, talk about our lives and past relationships, our kids, our hopes and dreams, and we would share recipes.

I did consider the fact that things might not go that well and one of the larger girls might decide that I needed to be her girlfriend.  I would probably be flattered that she chose me until it came time to put out, then my whole brain just curled up in the fetal position and started reciting nursery rhymes.  Since I am sometimes under the delusion that I can talk myself out of anything, I went ahead and played that scenario out in my head to see how I would handle it.

The first thing I thought about was the ultrasound I had done on my girlie parts last week.  I was supposed to drink 32 oz. of water before the appointment to give them a better view of my uterus.  I guess I didn't drink enough because when she ran the thingie across my tummy she said my bladder wasn't full enough which caused her to not be able to see the whole uterus.  She even showed me on the screen and showed me how big my bladder needed to be.  She gave me 2 options:  sit in the waiting room for 45 minutes and drink 2 more bottles of water or she could do a vaginal ultrasound.  Guess which one I chose?

45 minutes and 2 bottles of water later she took another look and said the good news is that my bladder was just the right size...but the bad news is that it just made things worse.  Evidently my uterus tilts toward the back so now she couldn't see it at all.  Perfect.  She was going in.  The average woman my age has endured her share of embarrassing medical exams not to mention the whole child birth thing so this was really no big deal even though this particular exam was new for me.  Fortunately, I avoided the paper gown and just had to drop trou this time.  I was lying on the exam table, discreetly covered by a sheet, listening to her explain that I would feel something cold and a little bit of pressure but no pain.  Yeah, yeah, whatever, let's just get this over with.

Then I saw the instrument she intended to use for this exam.  There is absolutely no way I can describe it and keep this rated PG.  Can I just say it was....intimidating?  I'll leave it at that but I will say that as far as this type of exam goes, it was not any more unpleasant or uncomfortable than the other ways our doctors humiliate and violate us on a regular basis.  I still can't figure out why that thing needed to be so dang long.

Back to jail...as I was considering what I would do if Bertha decided I needed to be her girlfriend, I figured that after that ultrasound I'm pretty much a lesbian now anyway so I could just roll with it.  I put a little note about my new predicament on Facebook and felt so loved when some of my friends offered me almost 3 whole dollars for bail money!  I was a little surprised that out of at least half a dozen of my Facebook attorney friends, only one had the nerve to speak up and offer help.  He obviously typed without thinking.

I decided not to tell Jayson about my being a fugitive since he is in Houston this week and would likely worry himself into a migraine over it.  I went to bed knowing that this would somehow take care of itself tomorrow and I slept peacefully.

Tomorrow is today.  When I got to the office this morning I told my coworkers about my fugitive status and they all dove for the phone to turn me in, hoping that crimestoppers was offering a reward.  They were about as sympathetic as I expected them to be.  Dennis mused about how fun it would be if I got hauled off in handcuffs just as all the women were coming out of their bible studies.  Marti said that with any luck I would get community service and could fulfill that by just doing my regular job for free.  Jennifer called to check on me and suggested I add a mask to my black and white prison outfit so that I'd look more like the Hamburgler.  Not bad if I do say so myself!

I called the number on my little arraignment notice, told them I didn't know what this was for and gave them my case number.  The gal I talked to said it was for a traffic ticket but it has already been paid and is closed so I should just disregard the notice.

Disregard the notice??  Just disregard it?!?!  AS IF!  Did she not know the humiliation I suffered by being arrested and definitely not strip searched??  Did she have no sympathy for the fact that I needlessly spent the night in jail with a bunch of hookers and my new girlfriend Bertha??!!  How could I just disregard all that??!  Marti said she could definitely see that the whole experience had caused me tremendous pain and suffering but she was skeptical that we could find anyone to testify that I'm any more "off" than usual.

Once everything was cleared up I called Jayson to tell him the whole story and I carefully reassured him that he need not worry and I didn't tell him yesterday because I didn't want him to worry himself sick about it.  He said, "hey, it doesn't bother me, you're the one being arraigned so it's pretty much your problem".  Boy, did I call that one wrong or what?

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