Flashback – Last Thursday night…
Scene – A lonely traveler, lonely-ly driving down a dark and lonesome road. He is all alone…
So it was about 6:30 in the evening. It was already dark in the chilly Indiana evening as I finished up my drive to visit friends and speak to students at Indiana Wesleyan University. I was only about half an hour away, deep in thought and listening to my music, when the flashing lights and sirens started right behind me. I pulled over quickly, glancing at my speedometer. Was I speeding? I didn’t think so… Thus ended 10 golden years of driving history – 10 years of never being pulled over – 10 years of glorious, perfect driving (except for the time I flipped a friend’s car… but I didn’t get a ticket for that…)
As the police officer approached the car, I rolled down the window and shielded my eyes from the harsh light.
“Good evening Officer…”
He asked for my license and registration – I couldn’t find the registration (it is my dad’s car) and ended up handing him my 18 year old brother’s expired driving permit. He was a bit confused by that until I dug out the insurance card and handed it off to him. A quick jaunt back to the car to “check it out,” while I waited in the car. I glanced over and saw Partner #2 walking along the side of the car with this really nice looking German Shepherd… I saw them, but I didn’t really notice them. After all, Partner #1 was going to come back in a few seconds and I’d be on the road again.
“I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to ask you to get out of the car. Our dog is a trained drug dog, and he smelled something. We’re going to have to search your car. Please step outside.”
I didn’t say anything, but in my mind, I’m thinking “What! You have to be kidding me!” But I play along with the law, and step out of the car, immediately breaking rule #1 and putting my hands in my pockets. (In my defense, it was pretty cold…) “Take you hands OUT of your pockets SIR!” “oops. sorry…” I mumble.
Partner #1 leads me behind the car, puts my hands behind my back, and proceeds to give me a VERY thorough frisking. I just wish he had warmer hands… He tells me “You don’t seem very surprised we pulled you over. You were expecting something like this, weren’t you…” (I’m thinking, “Do you want me to start shaking and crying? Break into nervous sweats? Run away? What else am I supposed to do?” I don’t say that though.) I shrug my shoulders and make a non-committal noise. He then stands next to me while Partner #2 proceeds to very slowly search the car.
Before Partner #2 begins, he turns to me and asks “You like to smoke a little now and then, don’t you? Are you sure you don’t have any drugs for personal use? Cause if you do, just tell me, and we’ll let you go…” Again, I’m not sure what my response is supposed to be. Do I confess? (“Oh yes, officer, here is all my drug paraphenalia. Let me go now please…”) How stupid would I need to be… So I tell Partner #2 “No, I don’t do drugs, I don’t have anything in the car, I don’t know what your dog smelled… Do you need me to open the trunk?”
“No, we’ll get to that later…”
Partner #2 continues searching the car, while Partner #1 stands next to me and observes. It’s a little awkward just standing there not saying anything, so I begin to make small talk with him. “How long you been with the force? Do you get a lot of drugs through here? How does the dog work? Do you like it? You from around here? (and so on and so forth…)” I felt odd, wanting to be curious and pass the time, but not wanting to ask too many questions that could be suspicious (“So how do you fool those drug dogs?”).
Partner #1 asked me where I was from, and I told him that I lived in Brazil. “Brazil Indiana?”
“No, Brazil South America.”
“Hmmm. You ever been to Columbia?”
“Nope. Well, not unless you count the one Christmas that I flew through there and had a six hour layover in the Bogota airport…”
After 20 minutes of looking, Partner #2 gives up, tells me I’m free to go, and they both walk back to the car. I shoot a grin at them… “Good luck…”
It’s only after I leave that I start to wonder… Did the dog really smell something? I thought there could be some residue from one of my bags when it was in the favelas. But if that was the case (and marijuana smoke was able to cling to my shoulder bag for four weeks), and the dog really did smell that, then why did Partner #2 spend so much time looking through all my stuff? Why didn’t he just have the dog sniff around until he found what they needed? Was there really probably cause for them to search my car? Or did they just see a lone guy driving a non-descript car with Illinois plates through rural Indiana and decided to see what would happen… I really don’t know…
I made it to IWU later on – not too late, and with a good story… all in all, it was totally worth it…