Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cruising in a cruiser

I've never been arrested, but when I was 20 I took a ride in the back of a cop car. In 1992 I was visiting my grandpa in Texas and I was going on morning bike rides on his old 3 speed bike. I'm an avid bicyclist now so I cringe when I look back and wonder what I was thinking - no helmet and no knowledge of road rules for bicycling in the street.

I always thought you should ride AGAINST traffic so you and the drivers could see each other but I ended up with my head breaking a car windshield and a tooth knocked out. Remember the part about no helmet? L-U-C-K-Y me! I was fine except for the tooth.

The cops came, an ambulance came, and I was knocked silly. So silly that the ambulance folks had to convince me to get out of the middle of the road where I was looking for my tooth. I really thought the dentist could put it back together. I know I argued with them, convinced I was right.

I was just a few blocks from my grandpa's house - I had ALMOST made it back - but the bike was so bent up that I couldn't push it or ride it so I ended up in the back seat of the cop car...I *think* I might have asked for a ride.

Now here is the embarrassing part. As I was sitting behind the wire fencing on the hard molded plastic seat of a police car giving directions while silly with shock, I recognized one of the cops as James K from my high school English class. (Did you know the back seat of a cop car was hard plastic and not plush? Makes sense if they have to hose it out. I think I even exclaimed my surprise and slid around for emphasis.) I was the shy girl who never spoke in class and there I was trying to be friendly and chatty with James, telling him I recognized him from high school! "Remember! From Mr. Frank's class? I sat next to you!"

At the time I was kind of put off that he was being all professional, acting like he didn't remember and telling me to calm down or something. When I think about it now from his perspective, I see a crazy bruised and bloody girl missing a front tooth, fingers through the wire mesh, trying to be uncharacteristically chatty and him trying to be cool in front of his partner. I can only imagine the ribbing he must have gotten after they dropped me off. "Oooh, you really attract those crazy girls!" The thing is, I thought he was a jerk in high school.

I hope that's the last time I am ever locked in the back of a cop car. I don't think any other reason for being there would be as funny.