I was sitting at my desk, staring at the bodycam footage of one of my officers, as required by my department, to make sure I don’t see my officers doing anything ridiculously stupid, or I guess, even mildly stupid. Either way, I was sitting at my desk, in the middle of the afternoon, when I heard a parking officer call for assistance right outside the police station. I got up, stretched, and walked down the hall to exit the police station and see what was going on outside.
The University police station is situated at the entrance of a parking garage and at the end of a cul-de-sac, where people who don’t want to enter the garage can turn around. I saw that a parking officer was standing beside a compact sedan stopped in the roadway and trying to direct other cars to go around the sedan, but there was limited space to do so.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
The parking officer shrugged. “I don’t know. I just came out and saw this car blocking the roadway.”
I saw that the hazard lights were on. So someone knew that they had left their car not in a parking space. I told the parking officer to direct all the cars into the parking garage and close off the cul-de-sac and took a moment to examine the car. It was an older model, Japanese car with bad maroon paint. I also saw that the registration was expired more than six months, which means that I can just tow it away. I had a citation book with me and a tow form inside the cover, so I pulled out the form and started filling it out. It normally took about ten to fifteen minutes to complete the form, so if the driver returned before the form was completed, I would entertain their story, and perhaps, not tow the car.
So the parking officer continued to direct traffic and I completed the paperwork. Once I had finished, there was still no driver. I sighed and called the dispatch to request a tow truck. Tow trucks usually take about twenty to thirty minutes, so perhaps if the driver showed up before the tow truck arrived, I could still listen to what they had to say and decide if I was going to cancel the tow truck. Now, in order to tow the car, I needed to conduct an inventory search of the sedan, per policy.
I opened the driver door, since it was unlocked and was hit with a wave of skunk smell that was indicative of significant marijuana use. I let the car air out a little so that I could breathe while I conducted my search, and then with latex gloves, I set off into the Corolla, which turned out to be filthy. Filthy. Everything felt as though it was covered in grime, including the two child restraints in the back seat, that also smelled of marijuana. Other than the child seats, the car contained several empty fast food packages and bags, some assorted tools, and one of the largest glass bongs I have ever seen.
In order to reach under the front passenger seat, I had to move the bong, which immediately fell over and broke in half, spilling bong water all over the floorboards of the car. I escaped the car and closed everything up as I finished my search. While I stood outside the car about two feet from the driver door, waiting for the tow truck driver, I saw a man walking toward me from the inside of campus, wearing a red polo shirt with a food delivery company logo (we’ll call it FoodFlash) and carrying several bags of fast food from a number of restaurants located in the Student Union.
The man walked up to the car and I expected him to ask me what I was doing, but he simply ignored me and stepped around me to get to the rear door. He opened the door and placed the bags of fast food onto the back seat, between the child seats. He closed the door and sucked on the straw to a fast food drink as he tried to squeeze past me to get to the driver’s door.
“I’m sorry, sir. Can I see your driver license?”
The guy looked at me, finally, and reached down, slowly, and patted his pants pockets.
“Uh, I forgot my wallet.”
I asked for his name and I could tell by his uhs and ahs, that he was making up a name. When I confirmed that he had lied about his name, I called for another officer to come help me out. I also saw the tow truck driving up the street, toward me.
As I worked with the tow truck driver, I saw the other officer place the FoodFlash driver in handcuffs. I asked what had happened and the officer explained that our driver had a significant warrant for his arrest and, by the way, his driver license was suspended. As the other officer took the driver to jail and the tow truck driver drove away with the car, I thought about the food piled in the filthy back seat, destined to never see the clients that had ordered it. And I thought, is this where my food sits when I order FoodFlash? Ewwww.