Scared Straight Essay – from a 34 year old woman
Driving home from a Cavs game in a bitterly cold Cleveland at 1:30am. That is how this all started, my one encounter with the law.
Many of us make a choice and no matter what WE make the choice to get behind a wheel after a beer or two. Sometimes it is many more, for this story it was just a couple. I am a slight woman, 5’3 about 125 give or take a few and I don’t drink often either, well not anymore. Watching basketball is extremely gratifying for me, because unlike baseball…I get it. Lebron James throwing the chalk, Kyrie with the 3 pointers and well everything about Love and Thompson. It was my first game of the season, great seats and better company. Two beers down and the game was over, we beat Michael Jordan’s team. Hollering in the streets ensued, taunting Hornet’s fans, because that is what we do in Cleveland. Going to a bar for one more wet of the whistle, sit to talk shop and being the wingman for a few friends. I sat gulping water for the next few hours contemplating if I should use my free Uber ride. Finally, feeling like the hassle of coming back downtown and not sure if the spot I parked at was illegal or not made up my mind. I got in the car and started driving home.
Barbara blaring and singing at the top of my lungs is tradition while driving home, so when in the middle of “When eyes meet eyes” my stomach growls to the point that it drowns me out I take notice. I am almost home and for what reason I still can’t explain I decided that I will turn around in someone’s driveway for a taco bell run, because man…a crunch wrap supreme is just so glorious. Next thing I know since I live in an amazing city that turns into a strange Alaskan tundra at times, I was stuck in a snowdrift from hell.
A few expletives later and I am outside the car looking at my tires pinned in the rock hard snow. Never will I know how to get this out drunk or sober. When I see a car pull up and it is one of my cities friendly police officers I was relieved, but wait…I smell, I always do. I have this weird thing that happens when I even have a sip of an alcoholic beverage, the smell permeates out of my pores or something. The officer asked me what was going on and from a distance away it seemed like he was just going to push me out, but then he came closer. He asked me how much I had to drink that night…I told him and he started with the tests
Can you count backwards from 53 to 18? Done
Can you follow my pen? Done
Can you walk a straight line backwards and forwards? Done
I felt like I passed, but he said Ma’am you smell of alcohol, so I am taking you into custody for suspicion of driving under the influence.
Holy Shit…I hadn’t worn handcuffs officially before, just for play and I like them, but in this scenario not so much.
He snapped them so tight and the cold steel combined with the frigid temperature had me shaking or was that my nerves?
I knew enough just to keep my mouth shut, but this guy was just badgering me. The officer was grabbing my arm extremely firm and was really impatient. He sat me down at the tiny office that was attached to the drunk tank that I stared at with distain. The CO in the “jail” was very nice and tried to make it easier for me, seeing that I was scared. My arresting officer on the other had was making fun of me and the other gentlemen in the room. My jail friend had the most beautiful tattoos and just moved here from Washington State. He was clearly high and we spoke about trails to hike and he reminisced about the beauty of his birth state. Jeff was there because of a chick who ended up dumping him the night before. Women are such bitches sometimes.
Anyway, I was still handcuffed because my arresting officer wanted to teach me a lesson and wouldn’t even let me put on my coat in negative weather while in the “jail”. The CO was so nice…I think he didn’t want to fuel the fire by disagreeing. Jeff was done with his breathalyzer and was arrested after hitting a .0087 the legal limit here is .008 the CO said he could recommend that they let poor Jeff go, but nope mucho man said he was going in (his words, BTW) complete with a smile. Bye, bye Jeff
I was next, I blew on that thing like my life depended on it, but guess what! If you are having a panic attack and getting yelled at by a douche bag saying things like “What if your kids were in the car?” I needed to stop and say back “why in the world would my kids be in the car at 1:30am?” “I drive a blue minivan and the last time I got a ticket was 10 years ago, chill out” mind you I was saying this in a polite manner. Good lord, these little towns must not see too much action. I was so upset, after 17 tries I was told I refused and would get 1 yr. of license suspension.
They let me call a few people…My brother was too drunk to come get me, my bestie didn’t answer, and I called my mommy “Mommy, I need you to bail me out…” “What? Are you serious? I’m coming right now”
They took my phone and shoes gave me a blanket and put me in a room decorated nicely with steel and a toilet.
I waited there…one by one other girls joined me, 5 in total. We all had different stories, but at that moment we were criminals. Some girls were crying others were pissed and screaming at the door. I stayed quiet, thinking about how great of a show it would be to have a camera in here with all of us, because it was nuts and we were all good looking chicks…next reality show Hollywood!!!
So my mommy came and saved me.
I took the next steps, got a lawyer and he was great.
Fast forward, I was told by my wonderful lawyer that I SHOULD go to “the weekend” aka hotel hell. He highly recommended it…ok, ok I get it.
I packed, crying the whole time, kissed my babies and left my warm home.
Walking in I was told to sit in a room with what it seemed like 100 people, they were going to be my forced friends for the weekend. One was shaking, a couple where drunk and I can’t even place what was going on with a few.
37 that was my group 37 souls who made a mistake or in some cases several. We will always be united, together we stand. Really, we just watched each other cry. All weekend in one form or another we cried for 72 hours. Now let me remind you that I had a totality of 3 alcoholic beverages. Some of these poor people walked into this withdrawing from alcohol, heroin, and prescription pills. The weekend was geared toward the people with real problems, addictions that took their life away, they hit rock bottom and I had to stand up and lessen their fight telling my story of woe about my trip to taco bell gone wrong? I am not even sure I have actually seen cocaine…one time at a party there was a stack of white powder on a table, but let’s get real it was most likely powdered sugar from the cookie party they had the night before…because that is how I lived! I went to goddamn cookie parties…not saying I didn’t have a somewhat fucked up existence, but really I wasn’t into drugs. Pot made me hungry and tired, which I am already hungry and tired, so amplifying that didn’t really make sense.
Getting back, I won’t go into detail about the weekend, but it did show me that I am lucky to have the support I do. A lot of my new weekend friends were very young and their parents were unstable, addicts themselves or totally non-existent. I also learned so much about what having an addiction to a substance can mean, they spoke about waking the monster inside and that that monster was always waiting for its host to mess up, feel depressed, be alone. Really sad and a true illness that most just see as pathetic.
I left the weekend with a puffy face and a renewed sense of self. Then I had to wait for my final court appearance. Shit I had to go in front of a judge, they had to evaluate me as a person. Have I been good enough that they will be lenient? I didn’t sleep the night before, I got up and put on my suit that has done wonders for my sales recently. I waited outside hearing my lawyer plead my case. Shit they called my name, my heart was beating so loud I synchronized my steps to drown it out.
Judge: Heather Lombardo, it is upon serious examination that you did try use the breathalyzer, yet it just was not effective. You have an outstanding personal record and your counselor feels strongly that you will never do anything like this again. Plus your lawyer has assured me that you completed the weekend about driving safety and you learned many valuable lessons, he also mentioned you have two children that you would never want to leave again. Do you have anything to add?
Oh my God I think I stopped breathing completely while he was talking.
Heather: (Huge breath in) Yes, your honor. I will always have a safe and reliable form of transportation if I ever decide I will drink again. Which, I feel won’t be anytime soon.
Judge: Well, your stars aligned and you are very lucky with what you received, you should thank your lawyer. Stay away from those snow drifts. Next!
I walked out, I looked at my amazing lawyer and hugged him so tight I think I hurt him. Man, I love lawyers. I don’t want to go into details of charges, because my case was very weird and there were A LOT of ifs. Let’s just say I can still get into Canada, no problem.
Statistically, over half of the people I suffered through hotel hell with will be arrested again for similar charges, because the odds are against them. I know eventually I will have a couple great drinking nights, because I am not an alcoholic or addicted to drugs and I have no reservations saying that. I don’t need them to have a good time, wake up or go to sleep.
The big revelation from this experience was the treatment I received from the police. Being a good citizen, I was treated in a very demeaning manner for zero purpose. The arresting officer just wanted me to feel below him and for what? I had the extremely nice side of the baton, but there are so many stories about the unnecessary police brutality that ends in violence. We need to end the police mentality that they can do no wrong. I am not saying all police are that way. I believe that out of 100, 2-5 have this elite perception of themselves and that is poison.
Not Proud, but Wiser