Sunday, June 21, 2009

The worst phone call of my life

People always talk about having a heavy heart. But when your city-issued police car has just been stolen by gang members, your heart isn't just heavy, it's beating your stomach into a pulp. I felt sick, nauseated, full of dread.

I asked the principal to borrow his phone.

"Hey, Lt. A. Cecelia Martinez and Flaca Hernandez just stole my car."

"Where are you?"

"Sunrise Alternative School."

"Which way were they headed?"

"South on 14th East."

"You drive the blue Lumina, right?"

"Yes, sir."

"Okay, you sit tight. I'm going to send a couple of guys over to pick you up, and we'll get your car back. You and I will talk when you get back to the office."

I sat on a hard wooden chair in the principal's office like a misbehaving school girl, trying not to cry.

I wondered if I'd lose my job. At the least, I was pretty sure I was going to get written up.

What would the guys say, when they picked me up? They already thought I was ridiculously idealistic, and wasting my times with these kids--who were going to prison for sure.

The 20 minutes I waited for the detectives seemed like forever.

Finally, a sleek green Taurus pulled up in front of the building. I reluctantly abandoned my chair, walked outside, and climbed into the back seat of the car.

Detective Young, who was driving the car, turned and smiled a sarcastic smile at me. "Heard you got stranded, Archuleta," he said. His partner for the day, Detective Dan Rosenberg, shook his head at me: "I told you that you were going to get in trouble transporting those kids."

There wasn't much I could say. I leaned my head against the soft upholstery and looked out the window as we headed south on State Street.

"They've recovered your car," Detective Young told me. "And, they're holding the girls. You have to go identify them and pick up your car."

"That was fast," I said.

"Yeah, when police cars are stolen, we take that pretty seriously," Rosenberg said. "We had a description and they were going straight south away from the school. Easy to find."

In minutes, we'd pulled up behind a couple of marked police cars with their lights still flashing red and blue. They were sandwiching my Lumina. Two other Tauruses, that belonged to detectives from the gang unit, were parked nearby.

Cecelia and Flaca were leaned against my car, handcuffed. Detective Young walked me forward to where they were standing. "Are these the girls who stole your car?" he asked.

"Yes," I told him. The girls avoided looking me in the face, and kept their attention riveted on the ground.

"Do you have anything to say to Ms. A?" he asked the girls.

They said nothing.

He told the girls to get into the back of the patrol car. The patrol officer opened the door, and the girls slid across the hard plastic back seat. The officer closed the door, got into the driver's seat, and pulled away.

9 comments:

SciFi Dad said...

You know, it could have been a lot worse. From what you told, the car wasn't damaged, and the kids weren't hurt in the process of stealing or joyriding, so ultimately nothing "bad" happened from your miscue.

Sure, they stole the car and there are likely repercussions that will be explained in a future serial, but those results are their own, and have nothing to do with your mistake of leaving the keys.

At least that's how my screwed up perspective works it.

Mongoliangirl said...

Ugh. I cannot imagine making that phone call. I cannot imagine being C or F and having you show up.
I completely get that thing about being an adult who has made a mistake and feeling like a child. I can also relate with not being able to take my eyes off of the pavement.

Gwen said...

Like Mongolian Girl, I can relate to that feeling of being a misbehaved kid as an adult. It's the worst. I know it must have felt embarrassing, but really what is wrong with being idealistic and trusting? Ok, maybe in your profession that isn't always a good thing. But you learned so much from that experience.

Rassles said...

Man, I hope those girls felt like fucking dickheads. After acting like dickheads and all that.

Erin Alberty said...

Yeah, I wouldn't want to make that call either. Crow never tastes good. Even if it's actually a plump turkey and only looks like crow to the police.

Totally ran that metaphor off the rails. But, no, I would not want to call the police to report my car was stolen by the people they were making fun of me for helping.

A Free Man said...

I've fucked some things up at jobs before, and that feeling just eats you up. So, I can only imagine what you were feeling!

Not Afraid to Use It said...

Ouch. That was painful all the way around.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

I am reading this in reverse order. I am so hoping that Cecelia jumped in to keep Flaca from driving away from your car. I really really hope that is the case.

TaraDharma said...

Okay, now that I've read your entire blog (compelling), I revise my previous comment. Now it's a question: how did you deal with these girls in the end?

I read a fair amount of crime and mystery novels. I have had friends who are police and fire: they see all kinds of horrible stuff that we all would like to believe don't actually happen. Though I, luckily or not, don't have the heightened awareness that you do, I am also beginning to re-think this karma thing. Bad shit does just happen.

Hope to hear more from you! I hope the writing is helpful for you.

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