"We got into a car,
Away we started rollin'.
I said 'How much'd you pay for this?
'Said, 'Nothin' man, it's stolen.'"
-The Dead Milkmen
Spring Break, my best friend Mike (who is currently my roommate) and I decide to drive down to Florida to have a little fun. My roommate at the time tells us that we can use his parents' place in Boca so we don't need to bother with a hotel.
We agree, hop into the mean machine, hot rocking, Buick Century Spat-mobile motorcar, and drive for 24 hours straight to the Sunshine State.
Just a point of information: The car mentioned above is a burgundy Buick, COVERED from bumper to bumper with stickers, big yellow numbers, and any other crap we could pile on it. I had an outline of a body (a la police chalk outline) on the hood, and we taped a squeegee in his hand to avoid window washers in the city. We stuck a pair of Mike's old sneakers in the grill and hung a small pirate flag from the antenna. The car is quite an eyesore: even I have to admit it.
We drop off our crap and head to the beach. After four days of sun, fun, and sobriety (we're underage at the time), we're bored and decide to start scoping for chicks in earnest.
We hit A1-A to Lauderdale and cruise the strip. If you've never been down there, it's quite a sight. It's a two lane road, one of which is on the beach side, the other, facing the bars, hotels, and stores.
The beach side lane is almost always empty, but the other is packed bumper to bumper with every kind of car blasting music, and driving really slow to watch and talk to the ladies on the sidewalk. There are also cops everywhere busting anyone for anything.
Now, Mike and I were both Auxiliary cops here in NY, so we were carrying our badges and figured we couldn't get into any trouble. We were immune, or so we thought. In New York, I've been pulled over for all sorts of arrest worthy infractions, and never got anything more than a warning. I'm not bragging, or saying it was all due to the badge, but who knows. My gift of gab has gotten me out of many, many situations without needing to show a badge, and also gotten me into many more.
Eighteen times we drove the strip, looped around, and started again from the top. The only acknowledgment we got was from a group of drunk college students on one corner that kept asking me what all the stickers on my car were for. It became a game; eighteen times they asked, and eighteen times we came up with a different answer. "What are all the numbers for?" they would yell.
"It's a company car, and I work on Sesame Street!" we would reply.
We're also trying out our absolutely worst pick-up lines on any girl that would even give us a second look.
We get chased off the strip by a cop at about 11 p.m. (long story in itself, but not the point of this one), and decide to head home. On the way North, we pass a convenience store and stop in for some munchies. There are two Deerfield County Sheriff's Department patrol cars in the lot, so we park as far away from them as possible. As we take the key out of the ignition, both patrol car doors open, and two cops get out and walk over.
"First of all, I can give you a ticket for the stickers, the outline of the body, and the sneakers in the grill. I've given tickets to people with bumper stickers that said, 'So many pedestrians, so little time.'"
We both figure that we are dealing with two cops with attitude, and it would be best to play it cool, except for the fact that my mouth is sometimes in no way connected to my brain…
I blurt out, "Yeah, I've got that sticker on the back."
The cop asks if I'm a wise ass, and Mike tries to diffuse the situation by flashing his badge and saying that we're Auxiliaries from New York. I'm thinking that our death sentence has just been signed.
The first cop, the Sergeant, looks at his partner, looks at us and says, "Really, nice to meet you guys, love the car." He shakes our hands, and we hang out and chat for about an hour.
Sometime close to midnight a girl comes running into the parking lot screaming.
The regular cop (not the Sergeant) stops the girl and asks her what the problem is. She tells him that someone stole her car.
"Can you describe the person that stole it?"
"Yeah, his name is Steve."
"What's his last name?"
"I don't know. I just met him tonight. He said he was borrowing the car to get something to eat, took the keys out of my bag without permission, but he never came back."
"OK, what kind of car is it?"
"A 1990 white Chrysler LeBaron convertible."
"What's the license plate number?"
"I don't know."
The Sergeant gives her a look and asks, "You don't know the plate number of your own car?"
She looks down and stares at the pavement for a while: "Well, it's not my car. I'm borrowing it."
It turns out that she's a nanny for a family down here; they let her use the car, but she's leaving in the morning to go wherever and needs the car back.
So the regular cop drives her home, while the Sergeant, Mike and I hang out.
About ten minutes later a white Chrysler LeBaron convertible pulls into the parking lot. The Sergeant walks up to the driver and says, "Hi, Steve."
The kid in the car looks up and says, "Hi."
The Sergeant opens the door and tells him to get out of the car because he's under arrest. Steve asks what for, and the Sergeant tells him for driving a stolen car.
At the same time as this is happening, the other cop is pulling in behind the Chrysler and blocking it in. Steve tells the Sergeant that the car's not stolen, "It belongs to a friend of mine."
"Oh, yeah, what's your friend's name?" the Sergeant asks.
"Uhh, umm. I don't remember. I just met her tonight."
The other officer walks up to the car, winks at Mike and me, and asks to see Steve's license. Steve tells him that he left it home.
"Well, there's a bike pouch on the seat. Do you think there might be a wallet in there, Steve?"
The Sergeant takes the pouch, opens it up, removes the wallet, looks through it and says, "Fake drivers license Steve. That's no good."
The other cop starts ranting, "Oooh, let me arrest him Sarge, please?"
He walks to his patrol car, gives Mike and me a thumbs up, and takes a book out of his car. After a few moments of pretending to look in it, he comes back around and announces, "It's a felony, Sarge, please let me arrest him. I haven't had a felony all month."
Now, I'd always seen cops on TV do that whole "Good Cop, Bad Cop" routine, and always wondered why anyone would ever fall for it. I mean, it's a staple of the police drama; everyone knows cops do it, so you would think they would become immune after a while. Especially with these two. They were so bad at it, it took all our strength not to break out laughing while watching this whole thing. We kept waiting for Steve to laugh in their faces. As far as I was concerned, there was no way for anyone to fall for this; these two cops were just too bad at it. Then I looked at Steve. I watched the first few beads of sweat drip down his cheek and all the blood drain from his face. They had him hook, line and sinker. He was buying the whole farce.
The Sergeant kept telling his partner to just hold on a minute, and let him check the rest of his wallet.
Now while the partner is practically jumping up and down wanting to arrest him, Mike and I are trying to hold in our laughter (and not doing too well), and the Sergeant is still looking through the wallet.
"Who's credit card is this, Steve?" "It's my girlfriend's." "What's her name?" "Uhh, umm." Then the Sergeant moves on to the bike pouch.
"Rolling papers, eh Steve?"
"I roll my own cigarettes."
"Sure you do, sure you do."
The partner blurts out, "Three to five years for driving with a fake license, please let me arrest him!"
Steve seems to finally wake up for a moment after hearing that and says, "Wait, I know who owns the car....."
"Get up against the car son. You're under arrest."
They cuff him, search him and read him his rights. They search the car some more and find the registration, which is registered to Chrysler Motor Corp. Brand new car, probably bought right off the lot.
The regular cop leaves to pick up the girl. As soon as he leaves, the Sergeant tells Steve that now that his partner is gone, he's willing to let the kid go free if he tells him where he got the ID. Steve starts rattling off names, addresses, phone numbers, all too fast for the Sergeant to even write down.
By the time the other cop returns with the girl, Steve is uncuffed, and the Sergeant is sitting with us and chatting on the back of the LeBaron. The situation is explained; everybody tells their side of the story, and Steve asks who those two guys are and points to Mike and me.
Now let me describe what we look like. We're both wearing motorcycle jackets, T-shirts, ripped jeans, cowboy boots (each with one spur), and the whole night we've been standing in front of my car (which I described earlier).
The Sergeant looks at us and says to Steve, "They're cops, we hire dirtbags sometimes."
We smile and wave.
The Sergeant turns to the girl and says, "By the way, the car is registered to Chrysler. Who actually owns it?"
"The family I work for."
"Yeah," he says, "But who do you work for?"
The Sergeant turns around and says, "Sorry Steve, thought you were joking."
Steve and the girl left together, and a few more cops showed up when the Sergeant called this over the radio. For the next two hours, we just told and re-told this story to every cop that would listen, and it seemed like they all wanted to hear it again and again. We laughed so hard. We must have spent twenty minutes alone trying to re-create the face Steve made when told that he was facing three to five. None of us could do it very well.
The next day we drove back to New York. I think by now, almost seven years later, my roommate and I must have told this story two hundred times each, and I personally think that not one person we've told it to has ever believed it really happened. But by now, getting people to believe this story when I tell it has become less important. The only truly important thing is that Mr. Iacocca never finds out that I was sitting on his car the night it was stolen. Because I'm pretty sure the nanny never told him about it happening at all.
If you have any questions, E-Mail me. Spat@spat-nospam-cave.com