A Dirty Story: Two Police cars on a busy Monday Night in a One Horse Town


Authority scares me. Living in Southern Humboldt this is a problem. Here, average citizens come in contact with Police officers more frequently than other places. For instance, most teachers have never had police copters land in the school yard, I have.

Like most Progressives, I feel people with authority tend to abuse it and the pattern of abuse scares me. But, worse, even reasonable people in authority can scare me, too. This is probably something for a psychiatrist to sort out but last night really rubbed my nose in this ugly character flaw.

After a hectic day that included, a dump run (my least favorite chore), a visit to Redway Feed, and doing 17 loads at the local laundrymat (please, please, Tina at Blue Star call me today and tell me the parts for my washer have come in!), I left a 3 hour black belt workout and stopped to fill up with gas at the one service station in our little town of Redway.

Afterwards, I drove my husband’s battered pickup to the one grocery store. Almost immediately, a sheriff’s car pulled onto the dark street behind me. As I turned into the parking lot, it’s bright red and blue lights strobbed across my rearview mirror.

My body shook.

As far as I knew I had done nothing wrong but my body insisted I was about to be found out for all the nefarious crimes I have ever committed–including lying to Mom about finishing my chores and eating Cheetos when I was supposed to be on a diet.

“Ma’am,” asked the officer, “are you aware you are missing a taillight?”

“Whippersnappper, are you aware that calling any woman under 60, ‘ma’am,’ is grounds for a serious drubbing?”

Of course, I didn’t actually say that out loud, thank god, but nervous thoughts occasionally slip past whatever filter other people apparently have so I added fear-of-my-own-mouth to my other less practical worries.

Trying to remain calm, I pulled out my license (to my horror, somehow my ‘I VOTED’ sticker was glued to it) and directed my oldest, who was with me, to dig in the glove box and get out our insurance and registration.

Mmm, insurance and registration—such handy responsible things to have. And I do have them. However, having proof of them in my husband’s ancient pickup. . . Sigh, well, after digging through the glove box and the middle console (which, by the way, was full of 30-50 shotgun shells—but because I was looking for paper, I didn’t register as parts-useful-in-shooting-a-weapon and therefore-not-a-cop’s-favorite-sight until the police officer slowly backed away with his light conspicuously trained upon the bright yellow shells.) we did manage to find insurance proof but no registration.


What I didn’t notice was that another sheriff’s car had now arrived and a 2nd officer had walked up on the other side of our vehicle. I later discover my large (over 6 ft) son is made so nervous by this (genetic problems apparently!) he has to fight to keep from rolling down the window and saying something totally inappropriate like. . . Uhh, nevermind. Skip that! Just imagine a 17 year old nervous male and you’ll know how inappropriate it was (and is) for sharing with a larger audience.

Hoping my husband would know where he had hidden the registration, I tried to call home. Hello, Sigmund Freud…Whose number did I actually dial? “Oops, sorry, Mom.” I guess she wasn’t going to protect me this time so I hung up quickly–feeling guiltier somehow as if by not explaining everything at that exact moment I was somehow lying to her. Thus deserving of serious handcuffing and dragging away by officers of the law.

I never did get hold of my husband. The police officer had now warily re-approached our old pickup window. He had kindly finished scrapping my “I VOTED” sticker from my license and handed it back still eyeing the middle console gingerly.

With a big warm, friendly laugh, my officer (see how Stockholm Syndrome is setting in—MY officer—phtt!) opined that, “That’s a lot of soil back there. Do you need it for a grow operation?”

He insulted my housekeeping now. “Hey,” I sputtered indignantly, “I just went to the dump. Of course, there is a lot of dirt in the back.” Both the police officer and my son eyed me with confusion but the officer politely offered that “I can usually smell marijuana if there is a problem.. [LONG, LONG meaningful pause while I fumed]. Enjoy your night.” And he walked away. . .


Without giving me a ticket!!!

Pathetically grateful, I crawled out of the truck only to notice the pale gleam of light reflected from 10 bags of Black Forest Compost sitting in the bed of my truck.

“Oh, THAT soil.”

I thought about shouting after his retreating car, “Honest, officer, it’s for my flower beds. You can see the picture in my blog if you want.”

But, I wasn’t eager for more interaction with authority and besides, several members of my martial arts class were hanging around waiting to find out what nefarious deeds on my part necessitated TWO police cars on a busy Monday night in a One horse town.


PHOTO: Comes from the site of incredible band Dr. Jekyll. They have a couple of tracks on the site that are very good. Go take a listen if you like smoky music with a sensual beat.



  • I apologize for laughing. I was thinking about a phonecall Larry (or was it Mike) on KHUM took from a “trimmer” who said it was “mind-numbing boredom broken up by shear panic when helicopters fly over”. Must be tough in SoHum when all you want to do is garden and maybe start tomatoes and basil in a greenhouse…no …REALLY! And at least your mother wasn’t with you. Been there done that!

  • No, go ahead, laugh away! I am–now! Yes, at least my mother wasn’t with me. Although then I could have pretended the Ma’am was for her not me–the hot young thing. Actually, I think I’m more insulted by the Ma’am than anything else.

  • I think I was 22 the first time I was called Ma’am – and I agree with you, BIG mistake. In Mexico it was Senora, instead of Senorita. Just as bad. 🙂

  • …and what makes you think that just because I’m your mother I like being called “ma’am , either. I much prefer Miss myself.:-)
    Thanks for the explanation for the aborted phone call.

  • Hey…our washing machine’s broken too! Spent my day off yesterday at the laundromat. Does this mean that I’m going to be pulled over soon as well?

  • Anybody who has to do 17 loads of laundry AND a 3 hour workout in one day certainly deserves better than being pulled over by the police. Got your tail light fixed yet?

  • At least Senora comes with a lovely accent, Rose;>

    Whoops, I meant to call this morning, Mom. I think people should just call us Ms. That way the age thing is more blurred.

    Chris, check your tail lights!

    Aunt Jackie, Maybe I should have told the nice officer, “Hey, I had a bad day!”

    And got my tail light fixed? Are you kidding? It’s going to take two weeks just to get in to see a mechanic.

  • I take it it doesn’t just need a new bulb.

  • Actually, I haven’t even looked. For all I know, the taillight is in perfect condition. I’ll have to look tomorrow. I hate to drive the thing but eventually it will come up so I better get it fixed.

  • Actually, I haven’t even looked. For all I know, the taillight is in perfect condition. I’ll have to look tomorrow. I hate to drive the thing but eventually it will come up so I better get it fixed.

  • That is a GREAT story and well told as usual. I squeeze the most out of each 24 hours, 7 days a week but my hat is off to you, you’re a beast . . . it’s all the time we save by not watching TV, right? My most interesting police encounter happened about 6 years ago in Kenai, Alaska. I don’t remember why I was pulled over – no doubt a deficiency or multiple deficiencies of the beater I was no doubt nursing down the road. I had a handgun in the glovebox, and although Alaska has very liberal gun laws, I was not supposed to have it in the glovebox, so I was nervous. I wasn’t even sure if my insurance and registration were IN the glovebox anyways . . . . when I started digging around in there with the police officer helpfully shining his flashlight he didn’t bat an eye when I shuffled aside the ACP .45 1911 – what DID get his attention was when a packet of gag condoms (picture barely fitting over a pinkie) spilled all over the floormat. To his credit, he kept his composure (barely) and I escaped without a ticket, he probably thought I was punished enough . . .

  • Steve, My first thought on reading gag condoms…Well, I’m glad you clarified.

    Now I know it could have been worse. My grin is actually hurting my cheeks!

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