Saturday, January 21, 2017

Storytime Saturday: I Almost Got Arrested.

This blog has been a huge part of my career - and my life - for the last four years. It has become a record of my publishing journey, and as it moves more toward lifestyle topics, it's becoming something so much more than the part of my life that revolves around my love of books.

I've talked about my kids here, talked a little about my relationship with their dad, talked about some of my closest and deepest friendships. I've talked about my mother and her health, talked about my Grandmother and how hard it is on our family to watch her decline. I've talked about abuse, and some of the more grisly things that I've lived through. I've even talked about my depression, my anxiety, my struggles with realizing I had PTSD, and my decision to go into therapy.

I've gotten to know so many amazing people through the avenue of my writing here, and I've been so grateful to see some of my readers genuinely become friends.

But I haven't gotten really super personal.

Today, I am. Today ... I'm gonna tell you how I almost got arrested.


BACKSTORY: I wasn't really allowed to start driving until I was about seventeen because ... I don't know, I guess my mom thought if she let me behind the wheel of a car, the world would end. I had driven a few times before, most of which went well (Jessica Schmidt, I stand by my story, so don't you be commenting here and puttin' me on blast, mmkay? Love you girl.), including the time I had to drive my mom home from the hospital once. So I got my license at seventeen, took forever to stop being scared of driving. Got married, had a baby, you know the drill.

Okay, so.

By the time I was nineteen, I was a newlywed with a baby and a handful of marital problems. I won't go into all of that here, but on this particular day, I happened to be driving home from an appointment. I had the baby in the backseat, we were on the way to pick up my husband from work (we shared one car - an ancient Buick that was 50 shades of grey way before that was cool and had such a badly bent frame that if we went through a car wash, we got rained on through opening above the driver's side door). All was well.

Until.

You know that sense of terror that fills you when you're driving along and all is well, and then there are flashing blue lights behind you? For me, it doesn't even matter if all my papers are in order, my seat belt is safely fastened, my phone is safely tucked into my purse, which is safely tucked on the floor between the front seats. It doesn't matter if I actually have shoes on that day so I know they can't even "get me" for that. It doesn't matter - I see those lights behind me, hear that piercing "WOOP-WOOP!" and suddenly have my heart lodged so firmly in my throat that I'm afraid I'll choke to death on it.

And y'all know I have panic disorder, right? So part of having panic disorder is living with constant anxiety - it's like you're stuck in fight-or-flight mode and for me, sometimes even sleep doesn't turn it off. Like literally, I have midnight panic episodes that literally wake me from a dead sleep, totally unprovoked. So anyway, another part of this is the tendency toward catastrophic thinking. I'm better about it these days, or at least, better at not reacting to it as strongly - but that day, I was a nineteen year old new mom with a troubled marriage and a lot of problems.

Oh, and I had already been pulled over for various offenses so many times it's entirely possible that my fear in that moment was legitimate.

So I pull over, deep breathing, looking at my baby in the rearview mirror. And I know it's gonna be the last time I see her because when this cop comes to the window, he's gonna have a really good reason to "get me" - even though I haven't done anything wrong this time. It doesn't even matter. I'm going to jail. My junker will be impounded. My baby will end up in the foster system or something - and of course that means something horrible will happen, or maybe she'll even die because she has a heart defect and Lord knows I am the only person ON THIS PLANET qualified to deal with that. And my husband is a drug addict - he is so not equipped to handle this. Plus our marriage is rocky anyway - he might just leave me in there. In a cell, where I'll have to find some idiot and make her my bitch so that I don't end up having to be someone else's bitch.


So the officer comes up to my car, does the lean-down thing, and peers at me, eyebrows raised. I still vividly remember those dark eyebrows. I tried to swallow my heart, but couldn't because my stomach had come right up behind it. He asked for my license, etc; I handed it over.

He asked me to get out of the car.

At this point, it's a miracle I haven't shit myself in fear, you guys. There's not a lot of reasons that a cop asks you to get out of your car. So I'm shaking like a leaf on the inside, but outwardly, I'm still keeping it together. I'm cool. I got this. I haven't done anything wrong. It's gonna be okay.

Not.

He crosses his arms, informs me that I was going 8 miles over the speed limit, looks pointedly into my car at the baby sleeping in the backseat, and asks me where I was headed. I told him the truth - I hadn't realized I was going that fast and I was sorry (boy, was I sorry), and I was just trying to get back from my appointment in time to pick my husband up from work.

And he said, "You know I could take you to jail right now right?"


I said, "What? What for?"

And he looked at me as if I had literally just popped out of space without a brain in my head, and he said, "You're driving on a suspended license. You can't drive on a suspended license. It's suspended."

I'm not even kidding, my mouth fell open just like they do in the cartoons. And I panicked a little. Lost control of my filter and my ability to stop words from falling off my tongue without permission. Naturally, I responded with a smirking, "What? No it's not."

After which, it was his turn to look surprised. Here I am, probably obviously terrified, shaking like a leaf, and he likely expected me to start crying or something like girls do on Cops if they think it'll help. And my boneheaded ass comes back with an argument. "No it's not." Not once, not twice, but three times, because he said, "Yes, it is," and I said, "No, I'm sure it's not."

It took him so much by surprise that I think it made him doubt himself. He said, "Hang on, don't move," and stalked back to his car, talking into the radio on his shoulder. I waited, trying to think of what could have happened.


When I first got my license, I wasn't the very best driver. I was an anxious and watchful driver, probably too much so. So when I'd be driving down the road in the right lane and I'd see a car coming towards me in the left lane, it took me a good six months or so to train myself not to come to a DEAD STOP until that car had passed. Intersections were a riot. But by the time I had the baby, I had calmed down a lot; still, I was a new mom and very aware of the fragility of my offspring, thus I was generally very careful.

Except for this one little stretch of road that went right past St. Mary's Church in Oak Ridge, TN. The church also runs a school, which meant that during the 8 o'clock hour - the hour during which I often drove my husband to work, quickly because we were often running late - that particular stretch was a school zone. Down from 25 mph to 15, right? Must drive slowly and watch for munchkins?

So if you go through there at 8:35 knowing that school has already started and you get clocked going 30+ mph a few too many times, especially if you do it without a seat belt on now and then, and then in the process of paying off all the tickets one gets lost and therefore left unpaid ... well, you get your license suspended.

You may or may not be made aware of this in a timely fashion.

So you may or may not end up standing on the side of road on a dead stretch between Clinton and Oak Ridge, too surprised to stop yourself from arguing with an officer about the validity of your driver's license, thinking of how utterly disappointed your parents are going to be when they find out that now you've got a record. And got your only car impounded. And you daughter picked up by social services. And who knows what else.


The officer found it a lot more amusing than I did. He let me go with a warning to go get my husband and have him do the driving until everything got straightened out. Then he patted my shoulder awkwardly when I burst into relieved tears, sent me on my way, and probably spent the rest of the day in hysterics, thinking of the idiot kid he'd pulled over that afternoon.

So there you have it - the story of the time I almost got arrested. And, very possibly, the reason I STILL get my heart totally lodged in my throat EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I see flashing blue lights.

You're welcome. And now I'm off to make myself a drink, because I need one after sitting down to remember that. Or possibly, I just really enjoy a nice glass of wine. Either way.


Questions for the Comments Section:

  • Have you ever been arrested? Or just almost arrested? What happened? Is that too personal?
  • What other #StorytimeSaturday topics would you like to see?

58 comments:

  1. OMG I almost have or probably do have a panic attack every time I get pulled over even if I know i did nothing wrong. I think it is just something about those damn blue lights that scare the shit out of me.
    I actually got pulled over New Year's Eve on my way home from work. I was almost home so I had decided I could wait to pee as I forgot before I left work and since my commute from Louisville, KY to home is about an hour drive sometimes not peeing before I leave can make for a long trip. I had stopped to get gas in Hodgenville and decided I wouldn't go there as I was stopping a little closer to home to pickup pizza so I just go when I got there. So I go around the square in Hodgenville and see the cops but don't think anything of them cause I'm watching my speed and I hadn't been drinking or anything as I had been at work. Next thing I know the cop is behind me and flashing his lights pulling me over. Immediately the panic attack starts and I go into the "OMG what did I do freak out". He comes up and gets my info than goes back to his car. Meanwhile do you remember I said I had to pee I literally an having a panic attack that he is gonna take too long and I'll end up peeing in my pants. He finally comes back and says by the way I pulled you over cause your license plate lights are out and wanted to let you know to get them fixed. Talk about relief when he said he was just giving me a courtesy notice for now to get them fixed. I thanked him and told him to have a wonderful evening and then continued on to pickup my pizza. Where I then ended up running in my friends pizza place saying "I'll be right out to tel you my story. I've gotta pee bad." Most eventful New Year's Eve I've had in a long time.

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    1. Hahaha!! I would have been shaking like a leaf!

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  2. omg, I don't want to go over this experience , i am a stressed person and I could not support it , good that everything ends pretty good not the worst that we can imagine .

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  3. Oh man that was a close one. Glad everything worked out in the end.

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    1. Me too. Scared as I was, I'm glad I got that guy - he handled it all like a gentleman and was very kind.

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  4. I have gotten numerous speeding tickets (well not that many, they are actually spaced out)and what makes me more mad is it was to get somewhere on time. No seat belt or parking infractions, thankfully. We live and we learn.

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    1. Yeah that's the worst part - you're speeding trying to get somewhere on time, and getting pulled over just makes you later than you would have been!

      I've definitely gotten better about my speed - but now I'm chronically embarrassingly early to almost everything.

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  5. Omg I would of been panicking so bad, I have an anxiety disorder too. I'm glad you weren't arrested, especially with the baby in the car

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    1. Honestly, I think she's probably why he let me go. I'm glad he was thinking of her, because I'm sure it wasn't simply mercy for me.

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  6. This is a good story. I will be checking back for more

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    1. Thanks - there will definitely be more! It was fun to tell it.

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  7. You dodged a bullet. Be careful, I don;t think you want to be in this position again.

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    1. I definitely don't want to ever be in that position again! Thankfully it was a long time ago - and I haven't been in any trouble since then. Scared straight, I guess.

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  8. What a great story. I also would be panicking.

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    1. Oh yeah, there was definitely some panic going on.

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  9. Great intertwining story; had me hooked into it throughout. I was in the carpool lane the other week with my kids and CHP came roaring up my back (no lights on) and the carpool lane is a single lane with double straight lines.... I do one hand in the air in a "WTF do you want me to do?!". He ends up crossing over the lines, shooting past me, getting back in the carpool lane. I hate it when I see people of the law breaking their own dang rules. Grrrr.

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    1. Me too - it's frustrating to see people who are supposed to uphold the law breaking it. But in my experience, most officers really are trying to do good things and make a difference in their communities. They're only human though, right?

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  10. You certainly dodged a bullet there. I would have been terrified. I think I panic a lot and these kinds of situations would make me scared.

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    1. I was definitely scared! I'd never been in any trouble before, so I was just standing there horrified, thinking of what it would feel like to be in the backseat of that police car with cuffs on.

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  11. That would make me so stressed! Thanks God, everything was fine for you in the end of that experience.

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    1. It was stressful for sure. I was really thankful that he was a good guy and he cut me a break - I know he didn't have to and probably shouldn't have, but I've never forgotten that sense of terror. Never been in trouble since, either - that one time was all I needed!

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  12. Well my story is not that I almost got arrested. It was along time ago when I was married to a navy man and we lived in Virginia. I was attending college in VA.Beach so had to drive back and forth from where we lived in Norfolk. One gorgeous spring day I was doing so with my stereo blasting and my windows down on my 1990 t-bird (I loved that car!). Anyway, all of I looked in my rear view mirror to see a car coming up on me too fast. That car then came switched lanes and pulled up even with me. I looked over to see it was an unmarked State trooper car. He looked at me and I immediately looked down at my speedometer. I was going almost 9! I literally picked my foot up off the gas and looked backed over at him....He just shook his head and wagged a finger at me then went onn! Omg you talk about lucky! Needless to say I was way more cautious and paid attention to my speed lol

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    1. That's a great story though! I love how he just shook his finger at you and then went on. I'd have been freaking out!

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  13. Oops sorry that posted as unknown because I didn't hit let my profile be seen. Lol

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    1. It's even funnier now that I know it's you, Sher!

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  14. OMG Brandi, I think I was having anxiety just reading this!! There is always this heart racing, "I'm going to jail," kinda feeling when you see those lights flashing behind you! I got pulled over twice in the same night within 15 minutes one time and I thought the world was over.

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    1. Yeah that would have wrecked me, lol. The crazy thing is that I feel like that even when I know I'm not doing anything wrong.

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  15. Oh my goodness I am glad everything worked out but I would've freaked out! It's funny to see that I'm not the only one that gets super nervous when getting pulled over even when I haven't really done anything wrong. Cops can be so intimidating lol

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    1. They really can be! And I hold no grudge against them - it's their job to be tough. But that doesn't stop it from creeping me out!

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  16. No one likes getting pulled over. I can understand the anxiety of it. Your story highlighted something important: cops are not out to get people. They just want to keep the community safe.

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    1. That's how I feel about law enforcement in general - they're really just trying to do their jobs. Still freaks me out though.

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  17. Glad you were not really arrested, I think cops somethimes are seriuosly wrong and excessive... you sure was scared,omg!

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    1. Yeah I'm glad he let me go too - he didn't have to and would have been well within the law to arrest me. I was so thankful to have gotten so much grace that day.

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  18. Holy cow what a story!!! I think I would have had an accident at some point here - I can't believe they can suspend your license without even telling you in a timely fashion! So glad you didn't get arrested :-)

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    1. It's possible that they tried to reach me but missed me in a move or something like that. I'm sure it was my fault for missing notices or something like that - but yeah, I'm definitely glad it worked out in my favor and I was given a chance to straighten it out.

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  19. Very nice - love the humor with with deeper insight you shared.

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  20. Oh WOW! I would have wanted to throw up for sure. Especially thinking about getting taken in and having my son taken God knows where. How scary! Glad he let you off though! Nice guy!

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    1. Yeah, that was the worst part. I'm pretty tough in general, so jail isn't all that scary to me actually. Not that I want to go there, but I doubt I'd make a lot of enemies there; I tend to be a pretty quiet person in general, and I mind my own business, so I'd probably be alright. But my kid? I was so afraid for her, and so guilty because if something had happened to her because of me ... Not sure how well I could have lived with that.

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  21. My husband came home one night, saying he was detained by offices! I about flipped out! Him and a friend were working on a car, like they do normally. WEll the car had launch control, and I guess when it is engaged it can sound like gun shots... so these cops pulled them over, put them in cuffs, searched the car...the cops thought they were being shot at! Then my husband explained and they let them go...

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    1. Hahaha! Great story though - but I bet your husband and his friend were freaked out!

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  22. I don't want to get into trouble that is why I would always abide by the law. Man, I don't know what to do if I was in your shoe...

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    1. I try to abide by it too - I'm not really a rule-breaker by nature, and I tend to think that the laws are in place for a reason. This was a mistake that just got blown out of proportion by circumstance - but no less terrifying!

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  23. I have never driven, at least not outside of the village where I practice. I think it's a little scary especially if you have kids with you. I can only imagine the panic when an officer stops you all of a sudden.

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  24. I think we all feel the same panic when a cop stops us and we try to think of a million things that we did before it happened. It's good that the cop didn't scare you or anything and did the opposite.

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    1. Yeah I was pretty grateful for his kindness for sure. It's weird how that happens though, isn't it? You get pulled over one time, and as you're pulling to the side of the road, you can remember everything you did wrong for the last sixteen years.

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  25. Okay I have to say I am dying of laughter. I remember the first time I got pulled over I was 17 and got pulled over for speeding. I hurried to get my license and registration out before he got to the window. Luckily he let me off with slow down next time. I was running late to an exam and was barely passing my class so had to make it to that exam. Of course that made me later.

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    1. That's the worst, when you're already late and getting pulled over makes it worse! Glad he went easy on you - and that you got a good laugh out of the story.

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  26. Awww I have to say I felt our fear during your entire experience. I think you did well during it all, I'd of been a sobbing baby even though half of my family are in the police force. Just something about those blue lights that set off a panic attack.

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    1. That's it exactly. I grew up with family members who were police, and I don't remember ever being threatened with police or anything like that, but they still scare the hell out of me. I could get pulled over TODAY, and be feeling scared guilty over something I did when I was eleven, like, "Oh God, they know I spent that dollar I got from my mom on a coke even though I told her I lost it!"

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  27. This is really a good story! Glad that you share this with us

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  28. At the ripe age of 16 I thought it would be a great idea to put a stick on my car that said "Drive it like you stole" it. Well I got pulled over for the first time and the cop says "Its funny how your bumper sticker says drive it like you stole it and you dont even have your lights on". I am 31 now and still remember that to this day.

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  29. How scary! I have never been pulled over by the police (yet!) so I don't know what it feels like first hand but I'd be bricking it too. Always a good idea to drive slow next to schools, the rules are there for a reason. ;)

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    1. Yeah, I tend to do much better now, lol.

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