Monday, June 21, 2010

Walking home

I had to rent a uhaul the other day. This lead to a few odd situations happening.

First, I found a cell phone in it. The battery was not yet dead, and I was about to drive to Corona, so I just turned it off put it in my pocket and went on with my day. I figured I would call them later.

Then, after unpacking in Corona, I was faced with the dilemma of how to get home. It was late and I needed to drop the uhaul off before work the next day. It opened at 7am, and I needed to leave for work at 7:20AM. The place was about a mile away from my old apartment. My car was at home. So, I was going to have to walk the distance once or rent it for another day. I determined that my best plan of action was to drop off the uhaul on the street next to the store, walk home, then drive to the shop the next morning and pay for it. There just wasn't enough time to walk home the next morning, and still get to work on time.

Next let me say a few things about Pico Rivera where I lived. It was the sort of town illegal immigrants congregate in. About 90% of the population is Hispanic, Spanish is almost a first language. Which is to say it is quite safe. Illegal immigrants are generally too afraid of getting kicked out of the country to commit any crime, and most of them come from quite peaceful places anyways. So, crime rates are about at the national average. However it is the sort of place that most white people avoid because it is different, and therefore I really stand out.

So, it is a bit past midnight and I am walking home. About half way I see a car right behind me slow down. Now, that has me a bit worried, I am along a major road and have never even witnessed a crime in my town but it is late at night. I half expect to see someone pull a gun on me. I turn my head to find a police car coming up next to me.

He asks me what I am doing. I try to explain that I needed to walk home from the uhaul place so I could drop it off in the morning. He says I am slurring my words and asks if I have been drinking or using drugs. I hadn't been, so I say no[upon further reflection, I am pretty confident that he tells everyone that in the hope they will confess something]. He asks me if I am carrying any weapons. I say no. He asks me if he can search me for weapons. I am dumb and say yes figuring that he will quickly go away.

He tells me to put my hands on the hood of the car. I am standing next to his car, and put my hands of the roof of the car. He repeats his command as if I am an idiot, and I walk forward to put my hands on the hood of the car. I suppose most of the people he stops know the drill.

He goes into my pockets and pulls out: a wallet; my giant set of keys, the keys to the uhaul, a garage door opener, the ID for my work, and three cell phones. Shit, the cell phone, I forgot I had property on me that wasn't mine!

I mention that I had found the one cell phone in the uhaul. The other was my work phone, and the iphone was my personal phone. I don't remember his comment, but it was something about me having a stolen phone on me. Now, he is sure he can get me on something. He has me put my hands behind my back, and get in the back seat of his car.

I probably should be freaking out right about now, but I find the whole situation hilarious. I don't think this helped me. As soon as he got me into the car he has me close my eyes for a moment, look at him, than open them into the flashlight. I guess I passed the sobriety test, because he just grabs my wallet from the hood of the car without saying anything and heads into the cab of the car.

He then starts going through the wallet. Takes my ID, and begins the process to search for any warrants out for me. He asks me to spell my last name, asks my address, and so on. I answer, than ask him if he can give me a ride home. That didn't go over too well, but didn't get more than a grunt of annoyance. Apparently the neighborhood isn't safe enough for me to walk in, but driving me a half mile is too much trouble for him.

He then goes to the hood of the car, and starts poking through the other stuff I had. The iphone was of particular interest. He again asked if it was mine, and started to poke through it. I have no idea what he did on it, but after a minute he put it back. Maybe there is a way to see who owns it, perhaps he just looked to see if the pictures were of me.

Next it is back to the cab, where he asks me where I work. I tell him the company name. He asks me what I do, I tell him I am an Engineer. He makes some smart ass comment about how unlikely an Engineer would be walking around Pico Rivera at 12:30 at night. I just smile and wait around to see what happens.

He returns to the hood of the car, and takes the cell phone he found in the uhaul. He asks me if this is the one I found in the uhaul. I tell him yes. He tells me to get my stuff, and walks back to his cab. He drives off without saying anything else, clearly convinced I was up to no good, and annoyed he couldn't find evidence worth arresting me for.

Anyways, I had not realized how aggressive police are in bad neighborhoods. In the future I shall only give police as much information as I am legally required. I had seen the video on why you should never talk to the police, and after that experience it makes a whole lot more sense to me. There is nothing to be gained in cooperation beyond what is legally required. If I have something so important to tell them, I will do so in writing, and probably through a Lawyer.

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