July 5, 2009

Ohh, this one’s good. Not many people know about this story, but it’s one of my favorites, despite not being the most fun to actually go through. So, yeahh, there was this one time when I got interrogated and was the prime suspect for a 200$ theft…

I was playing soccer in a gym in a P. E. class, back in tenth grade. There was this pretty big guy, Hispanic, a year ahead of me, and actually a pretty cool cat after I got to know him later on in the year. He was wearing pocketless gym shorts but for some reason didn’t want to leave the wallet in his gym locker, so he placed it on a bench in the corner of the gym and asked the goalie (read: me) to watch it for him during the game. I sorta passively said yes, not really thinking about it, and kept playing the game on through. The game eventually ended–didn’t really keep score, but for one guy guarding a giant wall as the goal, I think I did pretty okay–and people started heading back to the locker room. I looked over to the bench where the wallet was supposed to be sitting… and saw the owner picking his wallet back up. He thanked me and headed back inside.

I went to the locker room, got back into my normal clothes, talked to some of the other guys, and went back into the main gym to sit on the bleachers to wait for the class change bell to ring. It rang, but the teacher, accompanied by a high school police officer, told the girls to go to class but the guys to stay put. We wondered what was up but just kept sitting around. The hispanic guy talked to the police officer for about fifteen minutes. Then, finally, the teacher says everyone but me and three other guys can go. Everyone else leaves, and the police officer informs us that someone stole the guy’s wallet in the locker room and that we’re apparently suspects. Apparently the guy had 200$ to 250$ in there. (Retrospect: what the hell you doin’ with that money in a big public high school, kid?!) We’re told to go to class, and that we’ll be later called into the office to be asked questions. Good times.

I go to class, a little uneasy but not really worried–I mean, I didn’t steal it, obviously, so it should be fine. Right? Then again, all four of us suspects were white, except the other three guys were wearing collared shirts and had short hair. I was wearing, uh, cargo khakis and an obscure t-shirt, and I had long hair and some facial scruff. I generally don’t have the best time with police officers and first impressions… and I had never met this officer before…

Yeah, I was at least a little worried when I got called into the office later that day, around lunch. We all got called at the same time and all sat in a waiting area together. Eventually one of the other guys got called in and was asked questions for about ten minutes. He left, sat back down, and told me that I was next. I walked into the room–there was the same police officer from before, scowling a little bit at me, and one of the school’s vice principals, the grey-haired one with a mustache that always looked like he was angry about something and trying to hide it. They asked me to sit down at a round table and closed the door.

This was early tenth grade, so I was fresh off of middle school and at least a little bit still socially and conversationally awkward, and sure as hell not confident enough to keep any sort of cool with a vice principal and a police officer staring me down. Thus, first problem: I seemed skittish from the get go, and I knew immediately that they were already suspicious. Crap, man, I thought, this is going to end badly.

The officer asked me to recount everything that happened that morning. I told him everything as I remembered it: I went into the locker room, changed, talked to some people, started playing soccer…

Me:…”And then the hispanic guy asked me–”
Officer, bursting out: “Woah, woah, hey, do I need to leave? If I hear something, kid…”
Me: “No! No, it’s fine, he just asked me to–”
Officer: “Okay, I’m leaving!”
Me: “No, no! Wait! It’s–” (Incredibly D: right here)
VP: “There, he’s gone. Now, say it.”
Me: “I just… he just asked me to watch his wallet, on the bench, during the–”
VP: “You expect me to believe that?! Do you honestly expect me to believe that?!”
(I am currently about to cry and/or freaking the hell out. Why did I tell them this, again?)

The vice principal kept going on angrily–I thought about what the officer and the guys outside were thinking and hearing, especially since it had been at least twenty, thirty minutes at this point–and I kept on denying accusations and saying that I didn’t do anything. After five or so minutes of this he told the officer to come back into the room. Both of them back inside, the VP told him that I was incredibly suspicious. The officer started getting angry at me too, telling me to owe up and tell the truth. I told both of them that I was telling the truth, I really was, but they just weren’t buying it.

Eventually the officer said, “Do we need to get your parents in here? How about your dad?” At this point I was not only really freaked out but also getting just a tad angry back at them for hyping the hell out of this, so I said with some visible frustration, “No, no, please, my dad is really busy, this isn’t important–” (Oop! Why the hell did you say that last bit?!) The officer of course immediately said he was going to find my dad’s number when someone knocked on the door.

I’m not entirely sure what was said–I think I knew at some point, but I can’t remember now. In any case, though, the office receptionist had come to the door and told the vice principal that me and the other three guys were free to go, for some reason. (I wanna say that the hispanic guy had said it wasn’t us–even though he pointed us out as suspects earlier on while we were waiting on the bleachers after class.) The officer and the vice principal’s faces changed in an instant. I walked the hell out of there, still pretty shaken up, and went on with what little was left of my school day.

From then on that poor police officer was the nicest chap to me throughout the rest of my years in high school. He always smiled big and asked me how I was doing, and we usually carried on a conversation for at least a few minutes. Really, it was a mixed bag–I know he meant the best and he ended up being a really nice guy, but every time I saw him I felt bad for him feeling so awful, since I could tell he was being extra nice to me to make up for the way he wrongly treated me before. When I end up back in the old school I see him, sometimes. He seems to have forgotten me a bit more, which is probably for the best. Hopefully taught him a bit about judging on appearances, at least. (Didn’t really see the vice principal much after that–intentionally or unintentionally, I don’t know, though when I did see him he seemed mostly unfazed.)

The lesson? Well, I sure as hell act a bit differently around police officers, now: Smile big, be friendly and confident but not to a fault, and don’t go in worried when you’re innocent. (Cutting your hair helps a little, too.)

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