You're not cool if you've never been arrested... a true story. Except the parts that aren't.

Then there was the time...

*Hold please... before you start reading this - I've got to issue a profanity warning. Because, as I'm sure you're all aware, profanity makes the speaker/author look more intelligent and it's the way all proper people communicate.*

I'd just moved from Clarksburg, MD, a DC suburb, to Harper's Ferry, WV, a Bumfuck, Egypt suburb. I had accepted a job with a small library technology company located nearby. It was actually a competitor of the company I'd been working with for the prior 5 years. An actual career in the making. Wait... that's not fair. Clarksburg is a nice little town.

I should say, Harper's Ferry is actually a beautiful town, a DC suburb and beautiful place. It was a pretty quiet little town to live in for a 25 year old single guy. But, I enjoyed living there. I could jump on my bike and FLY down to the historic areas, cross the Shenandoah River and be on the Appalachian Trail in 10 minutes time. Some of my favorite places on earth are there. One being Jefferson Rock. A huge rock that Thomas Jefferson would stand on and gaze down at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.

Here's a link to the historical marker at Jefferson Rock. Plus a couple great pictures. 

Anyhow...  Shortly after my move to Wild and Wonderful West Virginia, I totaled my car. I was driving down to an ALA Conference in DC. About an hour and 15 minute drive. But this was in a snow storm. It took a lot longer and it was slippery. Especially if the driver was me in a sporty little car. All four wheels. Spatchcocked - flat out on their sides. I'd managed to hover over a parking lot cement barrier without hovering at all. The "accident" actually stripped the  car of it's entire underside. It was now, appropriately but not, a little red sled with a turbo-charger and sunroof.

I was cash strapped back then. Coming up with money to buy a car wasn't necessarily easy. I must have owed whatever the insurance payment was because I don't recall any extra cash. I had to get to work! I needed a car. So, I bought a $400.00 gem. A beat-up 70's Mercury Bobcat. Hell yeah. Wood grain sides and ever-thang. No doubt it was a babe magnet. Did I mention it was a station wagon?

I got it registered after the sale and tagged. But I hadn't had a chance to get my license switched over. My job had me traveling quite a bit and I hadn't found/made the time to get to a DMV.

On one of those job related trips, I met a cute young doctor. We sat next to each other on a plane on a flight back from somewhere. Before we got off the plane, I reluctantly gave her my number. Ok... if you bought that reluctantly nonsense lets talk later. Anyhow, She actually called me back! This was in the 80's folks. Phones were telephones. And phone calls, messages, call backs, etc. were a whole different world. I was honestly thrilled.

In fact, I was so thrilled I forgot about my fancy-ass whip! The Bobcat! Or maybe I didn't care. I was wobbly-kneed and head over heels in luuuve. (If I had a nickel... oiy!)

Perhaps I did have some issues with the Bobcat after all. We set up a date for a Friday night. She was going to drive up to Harper's Ferry and the plan was that I'd take her out to dinner. That's nuts! Seriously, who would do that nowadays? I am... I mean, I could have been some kind of weirdo that uses profanity and stuff! But she agreed.

mercury bobcat | Picture of 1978 Mercury Bobcat, exterior
You know you want one!

There was a super nice little restaurant 4 doors down from my apartment called the Anvil. A place I'll never forget. More about the Anvil another time. Or probably not. It's a story about a  brick being thrown through a 100+ year old float plate glass window on my door, a cute psychotic bartender named Kira, a waiter named Jeff who was the first man I'd ever seen who wore makeup and also had a crush on me, and a different girl (a drive-up bank teller) that I took there on a first date. She started crying 5 minutes after we sat down - and didn't stop. It was one of those ego boosting kinda dates that we all dream of.

Great little apartment though. Upstairs of a very old building in historic Harper's Ferry (actually its Siamese-twin sister city Bolivar - pronounced Bo-Liver!).

I had to beat her (the doctor) to my apartment. God forbid she see's her grandmother's car pulling up with me in it! Remember it had wood grain sides. Ugh.

I rounded the big turn coming out of Charles Town, WV and got that old Bobcat up to about 70 miles per hour. Just in time to discover the spot Trooper Happy was sitting with his radar fixed on one glow in the dark yellow, early 1970's Mercury Bobcat. Great.

I pulled over and got more than I ever expected. Like a dumbass, I immediately apologized and told the officer I was late for a date with a cute doctor who was probably sitting on my porch waiting for me. I've never been good at sweet talking cops. Actually I've only known one person in my life who was good at it. And he's an expert. Another story another time. 3 tickets he got me out of! For realz!

Trooper Happy (I'm trying so hard not to refer to him as Trooper Dick) asked for my license, registration and insurance documents. I handed them all over and he went back to his safe-space to take his 15 minute break and do his research.

About an hour later Trooper Dick Happy slothed his way to the Bobcat. He told me that he was ticketing me for 2 things. Speeding and NOT having a West Virginia drivers license. It is a privilege  you know. And in West Virginia it's also an adventure! Wee, who, ha!

West Virginia :: State Trooper Plates
NOT Trooper Dick

I flipped like a pancake. From nice humble boy in the way-cool car to - are you fucking kidding me? I told you I travel for work, just moved here, yada yada yada - cut me some slack Trooper Dick!

Apparently, that's not the proper way to talk to an officer of the law in West Virginia. I wished I'd known that before. Damn.

He had my Maryland drivers license, registration and insurance documents. Then he asked me "Mr. I-fucked-up-your-chances-of-getting-lucky-tonight, what's your address?" I told him "P.O. Box 449, Harpers Ferry, WV 12345 (look it up yourself, I can't remember everything!)."

Well, what do you know. That wasn't what Trooper Lobotomy wanted to hear. "No, what's your address?" I answered "P.O. box 449, Harpers Ferry, WV 12345 (see above).

We went back and forth for a couple days on that one. Meanwhile Doctor Hottie had most likely sped back home knowing another asshole had gotten her to drive to West Virginia. I'm sure it used to be a thing. Ugh...  Then...

Cop: "Boy, you don't live in no Post Office box!"
Me: "Got any plans for dinner Puddin?"

Kidding. About the first part anyhow. No wait...

Me: "Officer, you've most likely lived here much longer than I have. And you've got to know there's no such thing as mail delivery in Harpers Ferry."

Cop: "Boy, I say, boy... you don't live in no Post Office box!" 
Me: "Officer, why are you now talking like that giant rooster in the Bugs Bunny cartoons?"


"Sir, seriously. They don't deliver mail in Harpers Ferry. If I give you the street address you're going to get any mail sent right back to you with a purple finger on it saying "Return to sender... Address unknown... No such number... No such zone... We had a quarrel... We had a spat..."

I think that's all they're allowed to put on a rubber stamp. It's a limit of the technology.

But seriously, I did mention the purple finger and the Return To Sender.

Finally I gave up. "100 Washington Street, Harpers Ferry, WV 12345 (hello?)."

R to L top 4 windows were my apartment

He politely thanked me, went back to his safe-space, finished the process, slothed his way back to the chick-magnet and handed me the tickets. I believe I offered him a different purple finger upon my sputtering off.

There's nothing else in this story about the fine Dr. Fuck-you-I-hate-all-men-now. If you were hoping for an R Rated ending... well really... I should have written something about her right?

Anywho... I forgot all about my encounter with Trooper... see? I told you, I forgot. I can't even remember his name. And like all the other single guys in Harpers Ferry, I'd had so many dates with cute young Md's since then - how could I begin to remember?

That is, until about 3 months later. On a particular leisurely Sunday morning. I was in the shower when I heard a knock, knock, knock.

I smiled. "Somebody had actually come to visit me. Golly gee minus! Somebody came all the way up those stairs to visit me!"

I hopped out of the shower, quick dried myself and threw on the rattiest but favorite pair of jeans I owned and walked over to the door.

Oh shit. It was a Sheriff's Deputy. And he wasn't there to have a cup of coffee with his buddy Bill.

Seriously. I was barefoot, commando, no shirt and scared shitless.

Sorry Mom! I meant "shirtless!"

I opened the door and greeted him with "Officer, I know why you're here, and I know what's in that folder you're carrying."

Deputy Skerd-me-shirtless: Oh you do?
Humble Citizen: Yes sir. It's going to be unopened envelopes with a purple "return to sender" stamp.

For some reason, just like in a cheesy musical, we broke into a duet of Return to Sender! Bernstein brothers and everything. Dancers appeared out of nowhere. It was like some kind of flashback or something.


Deputy: Mr Payne, you're exactly right. How'd you know that?"
Me: --- I told him the story about the State Cop who wrote me the tickets, ruined my chance at being a kept man... the whole shebang.

Deputy: Well, I'm sorry Mr. Payne, I've been here 4 or 5 times looking for you and I'm going to have to take you in to see a Magistrate. I reminded the Deputy that I travel for work, yada yada

I'd never been arrested before. What did I know. I told him that I should probably get a shirt on, some shoes, etc. I started to close the door so I could scramble in and grab a shirt.

Deputy: Mr Payne. I'm going to have to walk in there with you. I don't know that you're not going to come out with a gun. At that point I seriously got scared. This was serious business. I reluctantly opened the door and "invited" him in.

Well, thank God. Before that moment somebody had obviously broken in to my apartment. Oddly enough, they had placed a flower-vase on my coffee table. And it looked just like a bong! But thank you Baby Jesus, it had miraculously disappeared.

He followed me back to my bedroom where I reached into my closet and grabbed the starchiest, white dress shirt, t-shirt, and I forgot what kind of shoes. And, prison slides hadn't been invented yet... I don't remember.

We walked out and I started locking the door. It dawned on me that I was in West Virginia, it was a Sunday and my closest friend was 30ish miles away. "Sir, if I'm getting arrested, I ought to grab my checkbook." We walked back in, I grabbed my checkbook and walked out again.

His cruiser was parked cross-ways in the middle of the little parking lot. There was no chance at keeping this whole thing quiet. Thankfully it was a Sunday and the Dentist who owned the building (and who's Dental office was directly below me) was not there.

I opened the passenger door and hopped in the cruiser. The Deputy walked around to his side and got in as well. And we drove off. As is typical with me, if I have a question, I ask it.

Me: Is that a Mossberg?
Deputy: It is.

Me: What model? It's sweet.
Deputy: (I have no idea what he told me)

We kept on toward Charles Town (the County seat, and also the town where John Brown was tried and hanged).

Deputy: Mr. Payne, we're going to stop by the Sheriff's Office so that I can run in and grab your Arrest Warrant.
Me: Are you kidding me? You drove all the way to Harper's Ferry and arrested me without a warrant?

I swear that's what I told him. And, I was smiling and looking him in  the eye when I said it. Ok... plus I weighed maybe 140 lbs and he could have squished me like a bug. We were parked right in front of the Sheriff's Office, Jail, etc. As soon as he walked in, it occurred to me that I was in a prime spot to be noticed by every car that drove by, every pedestrian, EVERYBODY. Ugh. Fortunately, nobody noticed me.

The Deputy walked out with a different folder. When he got in the car he told me "Mr. Payne, I'm sorry that took so long. It's a Sunday morning and I had to call a Magistrate so that she could meet us at her office. I swear to God, I figured I was going to be sent to a Turkish prison. How is a groggy eyed Magistrate going to be at all empathetic and hear my dumb-ass long story about the cute Dr., Trooper Dick, the purple finger, etc. Then this exchange happened...

Deputy: Mr. Payne, I've got to tell you a couple things. First, by law, when I arrest somebody they sit in the back seat. I handcuff them behind the back and they keep their mouths shut.

I was sure that I'd be next!

My butt puckered up like a raisin. Oh shit! But then it dawned on me that I had been sitting right next to that Mossberg shotgun, his radio, everything. I had even bummed a cigarette from him on the way from Harper's Ferry! WTF.

Deputy: I just want you to know that I appreciate your cooperation and your sense of humor through all this.

Wow. That was probably the first time I had exhaled in 5 minutes. And I knew, at least the Deputy was on my side.

We drove to the Magistrates office. She was much nicer than I would have been if I were her. The Deputy gave her a quick overview of the story. When he was telling her about what I told Trooper Dick regarding mail delivery in Harpers Ferry, I could see her start to fume! The more she heard, the more pissed off she got. I chimed in now and then, and contrary to what you might be thinking, I didn't mention the loss of my chance to be a kept man. I actually do know my limits. But I've had fun testing them all my life.

She listened and set up a court date that worked for the 3 of us. We shook hands and we walked out. The Deputy opened up THE FRONT DOOR, and said "get in!" I jumped in quick-like.

We had a nice bantering back and forth all the way back. I believe he even offered me a smoke on the way back. We shook hands before I jumped out of the car.

What an awesome experience. Mind you, that whole scenario would be IMPOSSIBLE today. That was in the mid-eighties. A whole lot has changed. And it really was small town USA. Add to that my 140lb fighting weight...  it kinda makes sense eh?

Winding this thing down...

The court date came and I showed up wearing my best suit. And there was Trooper Dick, as well as my bff Deputy guy. The Magistrate reviewed the high-points of the case and then lit into that State Cop like my Mom used to do to me when I seriously fucked up. It was a sight to see. I'm pretty sure I was grinning ear to ear while he got the riot-act read to him. It was vengeance at it's very best.

Jefferson County Courthouse - Charles Town, WV - Courthouses on ...
The Jefferson County Courthouse, Jail and County Sheriff's office.

I wrote a check for the speeding portion of the ticket on the spot. The charges for the drivers license were dropped.

I did forget to put one important part of the story in it's proper place in the timeline. I believe it may have been the Monday after my encounter with Trooper Dick, I was first in line at the DMV. I had my new license a week later. I wasn't taking any chances.

Well that's it. It's kind of a fizzle out ending to a bizarre, true and funny story. There really is no way it would happen today. I'd have been handcuffed behind my back - and probably even known to have my arms back there ready for the cuffs. Different times.

I've got maybe 5 more cop stories. One's about me testing to become a cop in North Las Vegas, another is about my friend (and boss at the time) Peter who got me out of 3 speeding tickets - one of which the cop should have dragged me out of my car and beaten me like a rug, and a few more that are pretty funny. Not sure I'll get them out of my head, but I may try.