It was sometime in the summer of 1991. The oil wresting tour I was part of, that took us around different parts of the USA was over and so was our brief stint of madness in Florida. M rented a car and we were making our way up the east coast from Florida to Pennsylvania where my family was and I knew bars we could work at. It was about 4:00 AM when M woke me up for my turn to drive. We were on a mission of a nonstop driving trip, until plans changed and we were brought to a sudden halt. I was young, crazy, wild and I drove like a race car driver if I had the chance. Usually taking whatever car I was driving to its maximum speed if I could. I was a daredevil as always in all of my speediness and I was flying free on that empty highway until those fucking highway patrol lights came on behind me. I was busted and the officer was not about to let me off with only a speeding ticket after clocking me doing 111 MPH.
It was back in the day when things still existed somehow on some sort of honor system, since he had me follow behind him to the police station so he could arrest me. As I write, I’m trying to remember if they even read me my rights? M and I talked for a brief moment about not following him and taking off, but quickly decided against that as we acknowledged that we had no fucking clue where we were except for somewhere in South Carolina. To say the least, we were nervous and freaked out about what was going to happen, even though my arresting officer was a nice man and said I was just going to be booked and released. I followed behind him as he told me to do and upon arrival they tried to run my Pennsylvania license, which made me more nervous because I knew there was a warrant out for my arrest from a speeding ticket I had gotten in Pennsylvania before moving to California. I had a little strike of luck in this situation because their system was not working to get the information about my license, so they went ahead and booked me, setting my bail at $200. I called my sister just in time before she went to work and she was able to wire me money on her way.
After that call the bailiff told me to strip down and put on a jail bird outfit. I wasn’t leaving their sight until bail was received and the Western Union would not be opening for a couple more hours. They told me that they told M to go sleep in the car until I was released. I was taken downstairs to where the women’s jail cells were and I became their new prisoner. The cell was an area of two big rooms. One room was a bigger open space with the bathroom and on the wall of bars was the payphone. In the other room were bunk beds, a table and television on a wall shelf. When I got there everyone was still asleep and there were no empty beds, so I laid down on the table to sleep. I remember waking up for a brief moment and breakfast trays were being passed over my body, then I fell right back to sleep. When I woke up a while later “The Price is Right” was on the television and all of the ladies were sitting around doing their thing. I asked what time is was and was told it was around 10:00 AM. I sat up instantly all freaked out that I was still there and grateful that no one kicked me off that table. In all honesty I was the only white person in the cell and some of those women looked pretty rough, but they were cool and I was far from being racist, so we were good. The ladies were very nice to me. They started asking me questions like how old I was and why I was there. When I told them I was 19 and speeding most of them just shook their heads in disbelief that they put me in there, not just letting me wait upstairs. I instantly got onto the payphone and called my sister to find out if the money was sent. She had sent the money within an hour after I spoke to her, so what was the issue? This is where the drama started to get a little bigger and my anxiety was now starting to show. A simple ticket had turned into a big ordeal and of course there was a shift change, so I was suddenly in new territory with the day people.
I called for the bailiff who came in with the attitude that I was bothering her, telling me that the money had not come and that my friend had left without me. That was some really upsetting information, but I could not believe any of it was true. The facts were that my sister wired the money and even though I didn’t know M long, I knew in my heart she didn’t just leave me there. Hell, she didn’t even know where she was or where she was going to. One of the woman who was in the part of the cell as I was in heard my conversation with the bailiff and got upset about how ridiculous it was they still had me. She quickly called upon the bailiff to come back in again. It was a different bailiff with the same sort of attitude who told me that someone needed to go get the money from the wire and everyone working there was too busy to go across the street and do so. The woman in the cell with me had no issue telling them that it was bullshit they had me in there and keeping me for no good reason. She was very motherly to me. I felt safe and protected by her and those other woman who didn’t know me, but seemed to watch out for one another. I made another call to my sister and we were trying to figure out how to get me the fuck out of there. It was really getting concerning, if they were going to let me out and how long they were going to try to keep me there. They were all so nonchalant and really could have cared less. This was a catastrophe! And one I was stuck in and could not escape.
I don’t know exactly how much time passed but it felt like forever in my dramatic little mind. It happened though, the bailiff came to take me out of that place. I didn’t know how, but it was happening and that was all that mattered. I said my goodbyes to the ladies as I was leaving and so happy to go. I was given my clothes to change back into and sent to see someone upstairs to finish the bail process so I could finally leave. When I got to the top of the stairs what I first saw were two deputies hanging out doing a bunch of nothing. They were standing on the landing at the top of stairs and they guided me to go around the corner. In this room sitting behind a big wooden desk was a short and stout man who reminded me of Boss Hog from the Dukes of Hazard television show. He had the strong southern accent and an asshole attitude to match it. He was the chief of police or maybe a constable for that rinky dink town. He wanted me to sign the bail release receipt in which he had written for only One hundred dollars. When I asked for my other hundred dollars back he laughed with his big belly shaking and said Oh that would be my mistake….hahaha! He fixed the amount, I grabbed the receipt in disgust and off I went. As I went down the stairs one of the deputies said to me, Y’all come back with your pilots license next time. That was hysterical for those men as they were all cracking up laughing.
I was madder than a hornet. Those assholes just had a good time fucking with me and I came to find out when I got outside they were messing with M also. They were telling her that she couldn’t see me until visitor’s day which wasn’t until the next day and that they were all too busy to go get the wired money for my bail. We really had not known each other long and being so carefree it slipped our minds to know and remember each other’s last name. With no help from the police who had me captive and no idea of my last name M cried to the lady at the Western Union until she got the money. Thank God that lady was compassionate with a good heart or God only know how long they would have kept me in there. Before we left we went to a little café in town to get something to eat before getting back on the highway. It was so apparent the prejudice and racism that still went on in the town and we counted our blessings they we were getting out. As my mom said “you’re lucky they didn’t put you on the chain gang”.