One night a few years ago, I was driving home from my best friend’s house. I lived less than a mile away, and usually took the short way home through the neighborhood, but as fate impulsive decision-making would have it, I elected to go the long way, which involved driving down a major street.
*Ominous music plays*
As I drove down the street, headed for home, I started to hear a siren going off somewhere near. Perplexed, I glanced around outside, trying to locate the source of the sound. It grew louder as I continued to drive, and I realized it was coming from the direction of a Skinny’s convenience store just ahead of me.
A lone car sat in the parking lot, and I decided that the obnoxious sound must be coming from its alarm.
Satisfied about solving the mystery, I continued on my drive. As I passed by the Skinny’s, I shot a quick glance at the inside of the store, which was supposed to be closed for the night.
To my surprise, I could see a shadowy form walking around inside.
Almost instantly, I realized that the alarm I was hearing was coming not from the abandoned car, but from the store itself.
My heart started pounding. Maybe I was witnessing a robbery! Why else would there be an alarm going off in a building that also happened to contain a sketchy-looking figure?
This was equal parts exciting and terrifying for someone who had always lived in a small-ish city. I’m sure people from huge cities see multiple murders and robberies on a daily basis, but this was big for my town.
Driving away from the scene of the crime, my heart still thumping, I brainstormed the various options I could take:
The answer was obvious, so I maneuvered a Batman-style U-turn and headed back toward the store. My plan was to stay in the safety of my car, but take careful notes of the thief’s actions and appearance so that I could give a detailed report to the police when they arrived.
They would thank me for my bravery and tenacity, and then later present me with an award for being the world’s best-ever witness.
To my relief (or disappointment), two police cars were pulling into the Skinny’s parking lot as I approached it. After a moment’s hesitation, I shrugged and continued to drive past, figuring the police could handle this one without me.
Then, an even more questionable idea struck me.
Obviously, my vigilante skills were not going to be needed, but perhaps I could be useful in another way. I could return to the crime scene and observe what went down between the police and the criminal, and then share my first-hand account with the local newspaper.
The journalists would be so impressed with my investigative work, they’d offer me a job on the spot. I’d be a hero.
Enchanted by this plan, I once again made a sloppy U-turn and drove back toward the store for the third time in mere minutes.
Unfortunately, the police had not yet entered the store. They were still sitting in their cars.
And now they were looking at me. Shit.
I made the snap decision to keep driving past the parking lot, but was horrified to look in my rearview mirror and see one of the police cars pulling out of the lot after me.
Right away, I started to panic. The police had most certainly seen me driving past the store multiple times, and were clearly wondering whether I was an integral part of this crime – the get-away driver, perhaps.
They were not going to award me for my bravery or offer me a job. They were going to pull me over and question me, and would most likely not buy my “concerned vigilante” story. I would be arrested and put in handcuffs; I would be frisked.
I imagined myself in an orange jumpsuit, sobbing uncontrollably in the corner of a jail cell.
I tried to breathe and remain calm as I made a right turn onto a side street in my neighborhood.
The police car turned after me. But they didn’t pull me over.
Then, I made a left, and so did the police. Still nothing – no lights, no sirens, but still following close behind me. My brain bounced back and forth between trying to maintain a degree of rationality and dissolving into complete panic.
When the police car followed me onto my street, I wanted to throw up. They were obviously planning to arrest me in my own driveway. My parents would sleepily stumble out to the yard, blinking in shock at the flashing red and blue lights. Witnessing their daughter being put in handcuffs.
They would be clutching each other and crying in disappointment. Wondering where they went wrong.
As I made the final turn into my driveway, I prepared myself for my imminent arrest, telling myself that maybe jail wouldn’t be so bad.
I parked my car and waited for the inevitable.
To my overwhelming relief, shock, confusion, and about nine other feelings, the police car did not turn in after me. It passed my house and continued on down the street.
I exhaled slowly, trying to slow my heart rate back to normal.
It seemed the police didn’t think of me as a suspect, but simply an over-curious idiot who needed to be chased away from a possible crime scene. And they weren’t wrong. Rest assured, justice was served through a healthy dose of embarrassment on my part.
(And no, I never did figure out what was going on inside that convenience store.)
Has anyone else accidentally found themselves in a pickle with police? How did you get yourself out of it?