by Rebecca A.
The thing is, I don’t look like someone people think would be arrested. I’m white, female, mid-40s, professional, wallflower. But at 6am on a January Friday morning, there were four police officers yelling at me through my front door. And then they were in my living room, demanding that I get dressed and go with them.
I always tell about the scariest cop being the same height as my boobs, how he tried to not look at them as he unavoidably talked directly at them, how the other cops stifled laughter over his embarrassment, and how it ultimately made him seem human to me. I mean, to be eye-level with my boobs he had to be a short guy, right? Probably barely met the minimum height requirement for a cop. Probably got teased about it a lot.
I never tell about the moment just before I let them in. They’d woken me out of a sound sleep and it was still dark. Their loud, flashlit presence on my porch confused me, so when they ordered me to open the door, I hesitated. But that caused their bodies to tense, hands hovering near weapons. My hesitation was a threat. I needed to make them to feel safe about entering my home.
As they waited for me to gather my things they scanned the first floor, habitually looking for evidence of criminal activity. The thing I tell: how they rifled through the DVDs on my TV, found Casablanca, and used it to tease the main cop about his love of old movies. The thing I don’t tell: how as I watched them search my home I felt embarrassed by the clutter—the dust on the coffee table, the half-empty drinking glass that never made it to the sink, the unopened mail on my dining room table. I was unprepared for guests.
I’d find out later how many privileges I’d been granted in the 10 minutes we were together. I was allowed to dress in privacy and to wear a hoodie. I was reminded to call out of work and advised on what to say (“I’ve had a family emergency”). I was allowed to walk my dog. I was cuffed loosely and in the front.
I spent the next 18 hours in Baltimore City Central Booking, where I received excellent medical care, learned how to smuggle cigarettes, and discovered that I’m pretty good at being in jail. And while that’s a skill I hope to never again have to demonstrate, it’s reassuring on some level to know I have it.
...to be continued...