Adjournment in contemplation of dismissal / Turning over a new leaf
I'm surprised to see that I let the whole month of July pass without updating the blog at all, but on the other hand, July was a pretty crummy month, so perhaps it's not that surprising. A couple of weeks ago, Allison and I got arrested for disorderly conduct. It wasn't for anything interesting or worthwhile, like protesting Hillary Clinton's nomination at the Democratic National Convention, which I had hoped to do but ultimately didn't because we had to go to New York at that time instead (more on that in the next post). We were just drunk and being obnoxious outside a nightclub in downtown Rochester. The cops wouldn't have even been there if Allison hadn't called them after a loud and totally unnecessary argument with the bar staff, who Allison thought had overcharged us (this may or may not have been true, but if it was, it was only by about five dollars or so). But what really set her off was when the bouncer (who claimed to be an owner, but I didn't believe him) told us we couldn't leave because we hadn't paid our bill—which we had. Maybe he was just confused; after all we were insisting that that we shouldn't have paid that much. In any case, Allison called the police, ranting about how we were being held hostage, essentially, but when the cops arrived, they took the side of the bar staff, even when Allison burst on to the sidewalk claiming she'd been assaulted by someone in the bar; when she'd gone back upstairs to demand a copy of the receipt, some woman who worked there had grabbed her and thrown her to the floor, apparently. The police were not moved by her story, however, except to tell us to leave, which I tried to get us to do, but I couldn't resist saying, "Fuck these guys, you can't expect the police to help you anyway," as we walked away. That really touched a nerve, and they chased us down and arrested us.
Every time I get into a dispute with the police, I think about the time in high school when I was behind a cop car in the McDonald's drive-thru line on Monroe Avenue. The guy was taking too long to order, and I muttered under my breath, "Hurry up, pig"—except apparently I didn't mutter it at all, and instead said it rather loudly. My window was down, and his was too, and he heard me clearly and stuck his fat, ugly cop jaw out of the car and barked, "The fuck you just say?" (It's fine when cops swear at you, but not the other way around.) I probably stammered something like, "Nothing, I'm sorry," and he probably spat something back about "showing respect" or some BS like that, but at least he didn't make a federal case out of it. He just got his double quarter pounder and extra large fries and went on his piggy way.
Obviously I've never "respected" cops. It's my natural distrust / dislike of authority, I suppose. Plus, they just don't seem smart to me. Indeed this sneaking suspicion of mine, that most cops are kinda dumb, was confirmed the other day when I read an article about how police academies actually reject people who score too highly on intelligence tests. That said, most cops are smart enough to glean my disdain for them in just about any situation.
My father bailed us out after a few hours. It was the first time Allison had ever been arrested—"I never even got detention in high school," she kept saying—but I've had a few scrapes with the law before. There was the "criminal possession of a forged instrument" (a fake ID) charge when I was 20, which was also basically for being drunk and obnoxious outside a bar. I spent the whole night in jail that time, a good portion of which I dedicated to hectoring the guard about all the reasons "people hate cops." And one time in my 20s I was arrested while smoking a cigarette in a park in the Bronx as I waited for my brother to meet me for a Yankees game. The cops said I had marijuana, which wasn't true; they "found" a small roach in the vicinity of where I was sitting, and I'm convinced they planted it there in order to meet some kind of arrest quota for the day. They took me to the jail, but I was out in time to see most of the game, which I think ended up getting rained out toward the end anyway.
When people say "most cops are honest, good, hardworking people," I'm inclined to agree that, yes, that statement is probably true in some broad sense, but I'm also inclined to say "What the fuck are you talking about? Open your damn eyes!" It certainly doesn't feel true. The cops are under a lot of scrutiny right now, obviously, what with all of the news stories about them shooting and killing unarmed black people every other day, but I can't say I'm very sympathetic to the "incredibly difficult job" they have, or the idea that "it's just a few bad apples." I have firsthand experience of them lying and falsely arresting someone (me!), and I've had way more interactions with rude, power-tripping cops than helpful, respectful ones. And I say that as a person with relative "privilege," to use the vernacular of the day—I'm white, middle class, intelligent, etc. So I can only imagine the way they treat people who don't have those advantages. (Does that sound arrogant to say? When you hear how privileged you are all the time—thanks, Facebook!—I guess you eventually start to believe it.)
Allison and finally went to court on Monday, after two long weeks of agonizing over the possibility of a 15-day jail sentence, even though everyone told us that would never, ever happen—and we were both given an "adjournment in contemplation of dismissal," a nice bit of legalese mumbo-jumbo that basically means if we don't get arrested again for the next six months, the charges will be dismissed. No problem, right? Hopefully we'll be in Asia for most of that time anyway.
So here I am, a free man. And what have I learned? To avoid cops, basically, which I already knew. But now Allison knows it too. We've been eager to put July behind us, and now that August is finally here, we're going to try our damnedest to "turn over a new leaf"—a phrase which, to my great shame, I admit we've literally been saying that to each other.