Since I haven’t been doing all that much recently, I have decided to tell you a tale from my more exciting youth. Obviously from the title of this post you can guess this tale is about the one and only time I ended up in jail. I was going to exaggerate and go on and on about how I was a hardened criminal with a rap sheet a mile long, but it would be a lie and I’d like to cover my ass in case I ever want to go back to Canada.
When I was 19, I used to work at a shoe store in a very suburban mall. I started off as a regular Sales Associate and on my first day of work my manager got me high and then made me re-arrange purses according to size. I’m hesitant to tell you that I got high because it’s not a very family friendly thing to admit (hi Dad!). Since this post is about jail (not exactly family friendly) and I had never been anything more than a person who smoked if everyone else was doing it and I didn't have to pay for it(pot makes me too sleepy to ever enjoy it) I will mention it. I think the fact that my manager got me high on my first day really kind of sets the tone for this whole thing anyway. I hope you can imagine a 19 year girl who was very nervous on her first day of work trying desperately to be serious in arranging hand bags according to size but having to run into the back in a fit of giggles because zippers were really really hilarious.
After about a month of working there, the manager who got me high decided to quit. I can’t remember why but I’m sure it had something to do with starting his own grow house. The Assistant Manager therefore became Manager and since I was good with numbers and managed to keep a straight face when obvious cross dressers came in looking for high heel pumps in a size 12 (Wisconsin cross dressers like to wear beards…I know, I don’t get it either), I became Assistant Manager. This new title meant nothing in the way of increased compensation – I simply got a key to the store and had to work more hours.
One day when both the Manager and I were working the same shift, he asked me if I’d like to come out to a dance club in downtown Milwaukee with him and his girlfriend after work. My manager was over 21 and I had to explain to him that even though I would love to go to a club, I was only 19 and there was no way I could get in. He said he knew I was underage but that he had a friend who’d be joining us who was willing to let me use her old driver’s license. Never one to consider something as a bad idea just because it’s illegal, I agreed.
After we closed the store, we drove down to the East Side and met up with my Manager’s girlfriend and the friend that was loaning me the fake ID. We met at Vitucci’s, which back in the 90’s was never known to check anyone’s ID. Before you young bucks gather up your spare change and head for $2 PBR pints, let me assure you that times have since changed (sorry). Anyhow, my Manager's friend gave me the ID which of course looked nothing like me. I’m not a 5’4”, 115 lbs, blonde with blue eyes – not even then when I was young and svelte. My manager assured me that they wouldn’t be looking at the picture or the description – but if they did, to memorize everything on the ID. So I did. I had my name and address down. I knew my birth date. Hell, I even memorized what sign I would be (Sagittarius – some things you never forget). I knew my height, and weight, and whether I was an organ donor. While I was still nervous, I was pretty sure of myself that they couldn’t catch anything on the ID that I didn’t know.
When we got to the club, my manager and his girlfriend went in first with me right behind. I was sweating bullets by the time I handed over the fake ID to the big bouncer in the skin tight black muscle shirt who probably just ate three high school freshmen for dinner.
The bouncer looks at the ID. The bouncer looks at me. The bouncer looks at the ID. The bouncer looks at me. The bouncer says, “This isn’t you.” I say, “Yes, it is.” I knew questions about the ID were coming. I could tell by the look in his eye. My mind was going through all the information, “….Mary BlahBlahBlah, November 28, 1968, 345 Howell Avenue, Sagittarius, Organ Donor, 115 lbs…” but I did not and could not expect what the bouncer actually did. He handed me a piece of paper and a pen and asked me to write my signature. The signature! I hadn’t looked at the signature! It could be in Braille for all I knew, with little smilie Braille dots marking the I’s! I breathed in sharply and grabbed the pen. I gave it my best effort trying to forge a signature I had never seen. The bouncer looked at my handy work, laughed a bit and said, “I’ll have to confiscate this from you.” I, knowing when I had been defeated, nodded my head and started to walk out the door.
That really should be the end of this tale. If I hadn’t done a series of unfortunate mistakes after handing over the fake ID that would be the end of this story – which would mean it wouldn’t really be a story now, would it?
My Manager and his girlfriend hadn’t seen what had happened. I think the strobe lights and promises of cocktails made them temporarily forget that there was a 19 year old girl using a fake ID that they provided at a night club. I slowly walked toward the door to go outside when a police officer, now holding the fake ID that the bouncer gave to him, called out to me by saying, “Hey, can I talk to you for a moment?”
MISTAKE #1: I said yes. I said “Yes, certainly I will talk to you - Mr. Police Officer who is holding the evidence of my wrong doing”. I could have just walked out. The copper wouldn’t have followed me, I’m very certain of that fact. Do you want to know why I decided it would be a good idea to talk to the copper that was holding the evidence of my wrong doing? I honestly thought (I was 19 and I may have had a few beers in me from the previous bar – don’t judge) that the police officer was going to give me the fake ID back. And I wanted the ID so I could give it back to the girl who lent it to me – you know, because I’m considerate like that.
The police officer was a young guy with a nice smile. He asked me if the ID he had in his hands was mine. I said yes (technically MISTAKE #2, but I’m lumping it with #1) but then explained AS I TRIED TO GRAB FOR IT, that it was a friends and I needed to give it back. The copper said that he couldn’t do that and that he would have to write me a ticket for using a fake ID at a bar. My lip started to tremble as a big tear ran down my cheek. I knew I couldn’t afford a ticket, no matter how small the amount was. The police officer asked for my current address. In a stroke of genius, I gave him the address of my apartment in Colorado. I had just moved from Colorado to Wisconsin 6 months ago and my logic was that if they sent the ticket there, I could claim I never received it and therefore wouldn’t have to pay it. Genius! I am the smartest girl in the world!
MISTAKE #2: In the State of Wisconsin, if you get caught with a fake ID at a bar and you are from OUT OF STATE, you will be immediately sent to jail. Once in jail you can only get out if 1) Someone posts bail (which is the cost of the ticket) or 2) You attend your court date (usually the following afternoon) and pay the cost of the fine. I do not know what happens if you get to your court date and you don’t have the money to pay your fine. I’m assuming they cut off a body part and make you get a tattoo of a wheel of cheese with the slogan, “I got arrested in Wisconsin and all I got was this lousy tattoo.”
My Manager and his girlfriend ran out of the club just in time to see me handcuffed and put in the back of the squad car. I mumbled feebly, “I guess the ID didn’t work.”
At the station, I was processed like any other person staying the night in jail. They took all my possessions – which was $15 and a pack of cigarettes – fingerprinted me, frisked me (not as sexy as it might sound), and took my shoe laces in case I felt like committing suicide over my ineptness in getting into a bar underage. The shoe laces were actually a big deal for me as I was wearing my 8-hole Dr. Martens at the time and they would not stay on my feet without something holding them together. They threw me in the drunk tank with 3 other women who had the good luck to actually be pretty fucking intoxicated while I – long since lost my buzz – remained sober the entire time.
I only remember a few things from being in jail. I remember the cold hard benches. I remember that it was freezing and I didn’t have a jacket. I remember this African American woman talking (shouting really) at me the entire night about how it was her man that beat her up and how it ain’t right that she was the one in jail. But most of all I remember going to the bathroom. The toilet was stainless steel with no seat and no door. There also wasn’t any toilet paper. I’m assuming this was so that no one could commit suicide with a roll of Cottonelle. Not wanting to be wet and certainly not wanting to hang out pant-less while I dried out, I ended up using one of my socks. I was then lace-less and one foot sock-less and all together miserable and I was in for another round of why the poor African American lady was in jail when it was her man that beat her up.
5 hours later, 3 o’clock in the morning, an officer opened the door, called my name and told me someone had posted bail. The woman whose ID I had used had felt terrible about what had happened and offered up the money. She wasn’t there when I walked out of jail but my Manager and his girlfriend were. They also felt terrible and decided to buy me breakfast. Of course, on the way to the 24 hour George Webb, my Manager ran over a cat. The cat was still alive so we picked it up and spent the rest of the evening in the Emergency Veterinarian Hospital.
I didn’t get back home (to my parents house) until 9 AM in the morning. I collapsed on my pull out sofa bed and didn’t wake up until nearly dinner time. I didn’t tell my parents what happened until 10 years later at some New Year’s Day party they were throwing where I casually mentioned that I was in jail once. I'm a bit disappointed that they didn't seem at all surprised.
In case the Canadian Mounties are out there reading this, this little incident never landed on my permanent record so please continue to let me into your country.