Sunday, March 23, 2014

I’ve Got More Tickets Than Muddy’s Got Blues


Look! Piles of them. Mountains, even. Mashed into the glove box and sticking out at the hinge.

Covering the floor like carpet, with mudprints and crumbs and Doritos stains. Down inside the seat beyond the reach of my fingers.

The date on this one reads,  “November 1, 2007,”   but I don’t even remember getting it.

It seems the city has wasted whole forests on me.

A ticket geologist – if one existed and we brought him in – he could read the layers. Like he could say, “This layer here’s from the ‘No-Inspection-Sticker-zoic Era’.”  

Or “from the Rolling-Stop-o-lithic Period.”

Or maybe  “from the Dragging-Sparking-Coughing-Muffler-ocene Epoch.”

That one I do  remember.

The ink runs illegible and layers push together until finally? Given enough pressure? Enough time? They form things called warrants with names like  “Failure to Appear.”

During the nights, Tarab-less, my sleep is filled with nightmares, and in them I am pulled over – some silly, minor infraction, I guess – with my kids in the back seat and warrants on the wire. Flash to twenty years from now and it turns to: “Rachel, do you remember that time Mom got arrested and we watched as three dozen cops beat her on the side of the road ‘til their nightsticks got covered in blood and we had to wait for CPS to come take us away? Do you remember that, Rachel? That’s what fucked me up and turned me into the serial killer I am today!”

Here’s the  “Pre-Operational-Seatbelts-icene Epoch.”

The  “Forty-Five-in-a-Thirty-rian Age.”

The  “Failure-to-Maintain-Proper-Distance-ian Age.”

Our ticket geologist, he’d have it all charted out like this, for this fossil record is impressively extensive and goes on and on and on.

Angela says,  “Mom, all these papers are tickets?’

I say,  “Yes, Angela, they are.”

Angela thinks about this and then she says,  “Did you really go to ALL these movies without me?”

My options – as I understand them to be – are few and they go like this: Pay the tickets or go sit out the jail time.

“Pay ‘em or go sit it out,”  says my boss, who is an attorney.

“Pay up or lock up,”  says the voice of the man on the phone.

“Pay or play,”  says Doctor Belloq, still fresh from watching “Orange is the New Black,”  as though jail would be Dyke Fantasy Vacation for me.

I have calculated my fines to be somewhere in the neighborhood of the military budget of a small but up-and-coming dictatorship. By now, buying a governor for an official pardon would be my cheapest path.

Paying is not an option and these warrants will not die.

No choice left and no escape. I fought the law and the law won. I see that now, and so I officially announce at work and to my neighbors, to my ex and to my children and to all those who might notice my disappearance… I announce my official coming in from the cold. Life on the run is too much, too much of a burden and this member of Houston’s Most Wanted is so… weary.

I take three weeks off from my three jobs and I walk on into Franklin Street with my hands held high.

I say,  “It is me! It’s Katy Anders!”

I say,  “I am turning myself in!”

I say, “I am a wanted woman and you are looking for me.”

Then I lower my hands and I push my wrists together like, you know, awaiting the cold click of cuffs.

But the room remains quiet. It is nothing like a scene from a movie. One lonely cop sitting behind a counter – Whataburger wrapper where a donut would otherwise be – nods at my presence. Pokes at a keyboard. Chews. She finally looks up and she says, “Okay, now WHAT is it you want?”

I glance around, conspirator-like. Here it comes. I repeat myself.  “I am here to turn myself in!”

My license – expired, probably suspended – is requested, and I hand it over gladly and start waiting for the alarms and for the running around, for the “She’s here, boys! We got her! We finally got her! For this, I’ll make lieutenant!”

The cop pokes at the keyboard some more. And some more. Then, a little more. She hands my license back to me.

She says,  “Yeah. We don’t have room for ya.”

WHAT?!

She says,  “You got warrants out but we don’t have room for you.”

She says,  “Why don’t you just pay the warrants off, doll?”

Is there no justice in this town? Does crime go unpunished? Are evildoers just left loose, out on the streets, to evil-do some more?

“Eighteen days,”  it said. I read it twice to be absolutely sure and that is what it said. Eighteen days, right there in black and pink. Yet here I am, ready, willing, and able to take my eighteen days and they refuse to give them to me?

I try and explain things to the cop with the Whataburger wrapper. I am persuasive. I try and make her see the light. To make her imagine all those piles and piles of unpaid traffic tickets – almost touching the clouds by now! – that are cluttering up my van and my house and my life.

But she says,  “Baby, I’m going to ask you to go home now.”

She says,  “Just pay the damn fines.”

She says,  “You can pay with cash or online or with a money order.”

I stomp out of the door and back into the day, no means to get home but to walk. I got dropped off here. I don’t even have my phone. I stomp on down the streets of downtown Houston and I am still a wanted woman.

And I remain a wanted women today, right here and right now, as I type these very words, and what’s worse? What’s worse than that? What’s worse is the humiliation.

I mean, how am I ever supposed to explain to my kids that

...Mommy…
     …couldn’t…
          …even…
           …get…
         …arrested?



48 comments:

  1. If drugs were legal, they'd probably have room for criminals like you.

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    1. To be honest, this happened a few weeks back. I was later told my mistake was choosing a very cold day at the end of the month, when people need a roof over their head a a hot meal.

      Because jail: Texas government housing.

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  2. You poor poor thing. My heart bleeds for you. (It doesn't actually. A bleeding heart would quickly kill me.)

    So you want to be in clink? That's the ticket!

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    1. I had a friend in junior high who used to use that phrase, "my heart bleeds for you," but said she was translating it from Spanish in her head. Didn't realize it was that universal of a phrase.

      I've been accused of being a bleeding heart, but I don't think I qualify...

      Delete
  3. You're like the passive aggressive Fugitive. "I didn't pay my fines," yells Katy from the edge of a sewage drain that's perched, let's say, five feet from the basin below.
    "I don't care," responds the homeless guy trying to sleep nearby.
    "It was the one-armed driver. Aren't you going to search every hen house, outhouse, and whore house from here to..."
    "C'mon, lady, lemme sleep. Wait, you got any crack? Oh, or Adderall!?! Yeah, Adderall?"
    "Sigh, can I at least ask you to pretend to make a finger gun and say 'pew, pew, pew'?"

    Good luck out there, low-stakes Dr. Kimble. (Wow, I'm referencing a movie from over 20 years ago based on a TV show from over 50 years ago. I'm like the fugitive from timely references.)

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    1. great comment - still laughing

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    2. Best comment ever! I'm hearing Tommy Lee for the rest of the day, now...

      Delete
    3. Pickleope has posted a couple of the most elaborate and tangential comments ever to grace this blog. He's trying to make me look bad... mostly because I usually just insult him on his blog.

      Delete
  4. My life has been so weird the last ten days... I could use a jail time vacation. Just this morning my wifes big dog bit my wife's mother; nine stitches. So much for the peace and quit of an empty nest... Like you, we are not going to put the dog in jail.

    Here is an idea. Get really drunk and declare to the lonely cop sitting behind a counter, " I have had more than a few drops and feel like doing a Paul Walker thing". They will have no choice but lock you up

    However, I am more worried about your soul. You could go to hell for defacing official government documents with Doritos stains!

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    1. I have had ongoing issues with traffic violations for a long time. I'd just like to sit in a cell and wipe the slate clean once and for all.

      By the way... I love animals, but I don't trust dogs. Never have. Used to have 13 tarantulas in the house, but one dog would scare the hell out of me.

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  5. They should have to at least stamp your wrist to show you'd been there, like validating your parking or something. That way you could begin serving your time immediately, at home, and at YOUR expense. Win/win. I guess they really want that money, huh? Prolly need it to pay for the full house they already got. oh well.
    ps: Maybe they couldn't hear you.walk back into Franklin Street holding an AK or AR and I'll bet they start listening. And wah-lah, a 'room' will magically be found for you toot sweet. FRONT! (ching!)
    problem solved

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    1. Texas has interesting ways to deal with its overcrowding problems. I had a friend who was a teacher who had a same sex sexual relationship with an underage student. They let her serve her time on the weekends of her choice. She'd check in on Friday evening and get out Sunday evening.

      She scheduled her jail time at times mutually convenient to her and the jail...

      That might be what I have to do, at least barring any of the more serious crimes you suggest!

      Delete
  6. Once upon a time, when I got a bullshit ticket (not stopping 5 full seconds at a stop sign, because apparently that's a law) that was going to cost $250 (that I didn't have), I went into court to pay my fine. And the judge asked me if I had anything to say before I was charged. I don't know why this came to me, but it did, and I said with a slight tear in my eye, "I'm sorry, Your Honor. Truly. I just got married. I have a baby on the way. I know what I did was irresponsible, but I have them to think of now. I'm truly sorry, and you won't ever see me in here again."

    He nodded and said, "That was both honest and genuine. I'm going to wipe out this fine. Just be careful next time, okay? You have a child to think of."

    It was hard not to smile as I left the courtroom, especially since I was thinking this the entire time.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUW7WvoJU5c

    You thought I was with wife and child? ACTING.

    System's fucked me long enough, I figured it was worth fucking them back. You know, just the once.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. That's funny because rolling a stop sign is the expensive, $250 ticket in Texas, too.

      As for your acting, if you were NOT under oath, I say, "Genius!" If you WERE under oath, then I am ashamed to know you. And if you have reached a point where even I am ashamed to know you, you have truly hit rock bottom.

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    2. I've rolled plenty of stop signs in my day, but I did genuinely stop. The redneck backwoods police officer told me "I counted to two seconds and you already left. You should have stayed for at least 3-5 seconds to ensure proper safety." And wrote that $250 ticket without a second thought.

      Glad to know they're always watching out for our safety, right? I mean, that extra 1 second could have been the difference between LIFE AND DEATH in that vastly unpopulated, 20 mph zone of a neighborhood.

      And no, I was under no oath. They don't make you swear on a Bible for stopping 2 Mississippi's instead of 3-5. They only make you swear on a Bible if you beat your wife or stab your neighbor in the face with a butterknife.

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    3. Sounds like maybe it was the time of the month when the sergeant checked the numbers on their (supposedly nonexistent) ticket quotas.

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  7. It occurs to me that if you have enough unpaid tickets, dating all the way back to the mesozoic era, you may be able to turn those into fossil fuels, and use that to run your van?

    In fact, your van could potentially be it's own self sustaining eco-system, or.....something like that? I don't know shit about science.

    But don't be surprised if the Nobel people come knocking on your door.....or, bars....or, wherever you're staying.

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    1. And without all of those processing and transportation costs for the fuel, I will be doing my part to save the environment.

      That stop sign I ran? That was for the ozone layer.

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  8. Katy. As a frequent visitor to striped light residential habitats, I can only say that you'll look hot in those stripes. Then again, living one step down from homeless is an unpleasant experience all around.

    Let us know when your going in and we'll arrange for some visits. Smuggle in some contraband.

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    1. Thanks, man. I'm hoping to at least get a few good blog posts out of it.

      Delete
  9. I remember the time when your bos
    \]s, Adri, had to spend a whole night in jail. Beaten and molested by big, hairy women, she barely survived. I spent 10 days in jail on false charges once and was nearly molested once. Are you sure you could handle 18 days?

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    1. Yeah, it is my understanding that Adri used to have a bit of an issue with traffic tickets, too.

      But she can buy her way out of a lot of things. Unless I win the lottery (which I do not play), then sitting it out is the only option for me. I'm ready. I have seen women's prison flicks.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, Adri had the means to buy or talk her way out of most anything I think. Those of us who are struggling to survive just don't have those options. I wish you luck with your 18 days and hope you don't get molested too many times... unless that's what you want, of course. haha

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    3. The thing is, there's no debtor's prison anymore, but there are a lot of things for which you can go to prison for not paying: child support, taxes, fines..."I don't have the money" isn't generally seen as much of an excuse...

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  10. That's insane. And hilarious. And depressing. And I loved reading it. Though I'm really sorry you've got to go to the Big House.

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    1. Thank you. I am not entirely happy with how this post turned out - I seem to have lost my writing mojo halfway through.

      But I still got the point across, I guess, so I posted it. I mean, I have to post now, before I do my time in the pokey.

      Delete
    2. Don't sell yourself or this post short. I was laughing out loud, and while it might be a combination of the coffee and Kahlua, it was a great post. If you do your time you'll get a hundred funny stories out of the deal... from the food to your roomies. In fact, you should probably insist upon the incarceration as blog fodder.

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    3. Unless they do cavity searches... in which case, you might want to consider moving to another state. In Canada.

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    4. I think I might try to dig out of the jail. Not because I'd want to leave, but just to see whether I could do it.

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  11. You're like a one woman 60's sexploitation film. Lesbian, check. Criminal, check. Tough talking. check. Knows how to handle a knife. Most likely. Fighting against being unjustly accused, Maybe? Laying around in tattered clothes with heaving bosom. I don't know, probably.

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    1. When I read this description, I thought, "Wow, whoever flip is describing, I really want to DO that chick!"

      Then I realized you were talking about ME, so I did.

      Delete
  12. I spent a couple of years in Chicago from around 2004 to 2006 and read an article in their version of our Houston Press that might discourage you from volunteering to go to jail in any city. Seems this soccer type Mom had a two or three year old parking ticket she never got around to paying. A few years later she rolled thru a stop sign or failed to yield, I don't remember, but she got pulled over by a female cop. The cop ran her license and came up with this expired parking ticket with an arrest warrant for failure to appear.

    The cop told her to get out. put her hands on top of her car, hooks her up and throws her into the back of the police car. Mom (our mother and housewife) asked the cop, why all this, why not give me a ticket and let me pay or fight it in court. Lady cop tells her that when they run across anyone who failed to appear in court, you took them to jail, no pass Go, no 200 dollars.

    Our criminal was told that because she was a woman and had a warrant for her arrest, she had to be booked at the old Cook County Jail, a real dungeon which I almost had the pleasure of seeing from the inside out. She remained cuffed until she was finger printed and then told to "shuck down", for a cavity search by a couple of really bad ass female cops. This low life, down and dirty parking ticket felon had to take off every piece of clothing while two big fat (not law abiding good neighbor lesbians) ass kicking Bull Dagger Jailers shook her down inside and out while several other female officers cheered them on.
    It actually was standard procedure in Chicago and had been since 1954, when the city (in it's infinite wisdom) enacted the laws that caused every female arrested in Chicago for any to undergo a cavity search. To protect the female offenders from possible harassment by male police officers, the female offenders had to be taken to the Cook County Jail and be handled by only female police or jail officers. Evidently all previous victims of this (we don't coddle criminals in Chicago) crime solving police work were too ashamed to complain. It was supposed to have changed since then (2005) but being as we're talking about Chicago, all bets are off.

    So Katy dearest, iffen I were you, I'd do a little research before volunteering to ride out the fine by doing the time.

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    1. Hi, Frank. There are places where I would never want to be in jail for even a minute. There are places in Texas where I wouldn't want to be in jail for even a minute.

      Harris County isn't the worst of the worst for someone like me.

      In fact, thanks to my job, I hear people complain about their treatment in jail quite a bit. There are places in Texas - within spitting distance of Houston - where the complaints are serious. Around this area, they are mostly of the "I didn't get my medication exactly on time" or "The stuff my mom sent in the mail took too long getting to me."

      By incarceration standards, those are Ritz Carlton complaints.

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    2. Well, Texas jails DO need some free labor. How else do you expect them to make tons of money from their privatized prison systems?

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    3. I assume that they can make some money by making Soylent Green out of prisoners. (Pssst... there's a secret ingredient!)

      Delete
  13. A little off-topic, but I just ordered a book on Scottish Witchcraft with a whole chapter devoted to sleep paralysis. I thought you should know.

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    1. Sleep paralysis is never off topic here!

      I love reading about it, especially in books or on sites that are primarily about other things. I have a book positing that djinn are actually behind the ghost and alien phenomenon. It has a whole chapter about sleep paralysis that never actually mentions sleep paralysis by name.

      Fantastic stuff.

      Also, I have never learned how to spell "phenomenon." Thank djinn for spell-check!

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    2. https://www.google.com/search?&q=owen+davies+%22sleep+paralysis%22

      Follow that link to find Owen Davies seminal article "The Nightmare Experience: Sleep Paralysis and Witchcraft Accusations" (as a freely downloadable pdf).

      Delete
    3. Nice. Gracias.

      I am going to figure out what this thing is eventually. Or have fun with it until I give up,

      Delete
  14. Haha Here we don't have tickets . Police bribes us whenever they feel like needing cash/

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    1. It's funny that you mentioned that, because it was a blog by icyhighs, who is also from Chennai and hangs out around here from time to time, that made me decide to post this one. He had written about the bribe thing here: http://renaissancehippy.blogspot.com/

      Frankly, it might be preferable.

      Delete
  15. One are one brave chick. In India I can't even think of walking into a police station with 50 people. If India is rape capital of the world police station is there capital building and the rapists aren't the inmates but the cops. But again all the ex-colony countries this is the norm.
    And I got a ticket one time, but I wasn't speeding but the cop didnt like me , I panicked and I had never been stopped by a cop anytime before and he asked me to stop to check my car window which was all cloudy with 0 visibility and the way I panicked he thought I was some criminal or something and on top of it , I got out of the car. So, he gave me speeding ticket for 15miles in 30m/hr area. First time I was stopped by a cop and wasn't given a warning but ticket for 15miles per hour when I sure didnt drive over 40.
    And I planned to fight it in court and people suggested that it is rare for Indians to get ticket thrown out by courts.
    What would have made me feel better , if I got a speeding ticket my first speeding ticket for 90m/hr or something not for 45m/hr.
    and that cop did say this "I am giving you a ticket, but I actually stopped to tell you to clean your window".

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    1. I think what I've learned most from this blog post is that India is a bad place to get pulled over by the cops.

      This fact will become marginally more relevant after I post my next blog post.

      Delete
  16. I'm usually fairly anxious about unpaid bills/tickets. So as soon as I see that I have them, I must pay them off instantly. I read about a guy who had 3 outstanding parking tickets. For that, he received 3 cavity searches and had to poo in front of cops (or something along those lines). I mean, getting cavity searched once makes for a good story. Twice may leave a bruise. But, three times would probably put a damper on my week.

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    1. It's like they say: If you don't have anything to hide, then you shouldn't have anything to worry about during the search. Right?

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  17. You have a horrible time trying to get arrested. First double bigamy, now this. At what point do you start to take it personally?

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    1. I hardly even feel like a menace to society.

      What does a person have to do to get arrested these days? Steal federal government land for cattle grazing?

      Delete

Go ahead and comment, even if it is just to tell me that you think this post sucked. What have you got to lose?