I’ve heard many people say “Oh, you don’t want to hear about me, I’m boring.”
That is a pet peeve of mine. NO ONE is boring. EVERYONE has a story to tell. Even if you’ve led the “typical life” and work the “typical job” and go home to the “typical family”, I know somewhere in there you have had something happen to you that’s an opportunity for storytelling.
Having joined Toastmasters, a great side effect from joining is that in groups of complete strangers at social events, I have something interesting to say now! I can recall some story or weird thing that happened lately that relates to whatever we’re talking about and thanks to my participation in Toastmasters, I can spin it into a compelling story – one that my newly made friends actually enjoy hearing. It’s a pretty neat trick and it certainly beats small talk. I get tired of the “Hi, my name’s Jessie and I so on and so forth and blah and what do you do?”
With that intro, I want to tell you a story about my morning last Wednesday – it was not “typical” or “boring” by any means. . .
I woke up early Wednesday because I had to drive an hour and a half north to go to our Ocala office that day to provide admin support to them. At around 6:40AM I was brushing my teeth in my pajama shorts and a tank top – my hair was a mess, no makeup on, and I was drooling some toothpaste down the right side of my chin (hey, it was earlier than usual for me!). I heard a knock on my door. I NEVER hear knocks on my door unless I’ve ordered pizza, and even then they ring the doorbell. I have maybe 5 functioning brain cells at this time in the morning so I leave the toothbrush askew in my mouth, walk to the crafty porch area where there’s windows to the street below on the way to my door. I see. . . two cop cars below. Ah, crap. This can’t be good.
I figure it’s likely safe to open my door, it’s got to be a cop and I’m a white female (it’s awful that that checklist exists in my head and actually makes me feel safe) so I do indeed open my door. My apartment is on the second floor, above a garage, and a police officer is already downstairs so I look over the balcony – toothbrush still hanging from my mouth (classy, right?) – and he says “Excuse me miss, did you have a bicycle on your car last night?”
“Ah crap!” I said rather garbled through the toothbrush, “I did! It’s been stolen??”
“Well, I have an awesome story for you when you can come down.”
Ok, so now I’m running on maybe 8 brain cells. I only think enough to spit out the toothpaste and wipe off my chin. I didn’t even put on a jacket or an actual shirt. I don’t remember if I even put on glasses, maybe?
I get downstairs in my pajamas still, because: 8 brain cells, and talk to an officer. He explains that he has a young guy in the back of his cruiser that he picked up because he was riding around on my bike with what looked like a lot of stolen goods along with another young guy. He was suspicious because my bike is a typical grey bike but with pastel pink, green, and blue straws covering every spoke of the front tire, rainbow beads on the spokes of the back tire, a pink bell on the handle bar, and a rainbow light on the front wheel. So, ok, there may have been some age/gender profiling going on, but. . . my bike is likely not going to belong to a 16 year old male (to be fair, it may not likely belong to a 32-year-old grown-ass adult woman – but hey, I never claimed to be a grown up).
There were two teenagers, riding around my neighborhood, with my bike and backpacks full of random items they stole from cars that had unlocked doors. I live in a “gayborhood” where crime is pretty minimal so I’m assuming people feel relatively safe. I ACCIDENTALLY left my bike on the rack on the back of my car that night after getting home from work. I usually take it down and lock it under my stairs – not that night though!!
The two officers apprehended the boys and the one who stole my bike apparently cooperated quite well, giving out the locations of where he stole several items – including where he stole my bike from! MY PLACE! So the officers and the kids drove around the neighborhood, returning stolen items when they could – eventually getting to my place.
As the officer was explaining this to me, he kept going on about how cool my bike was, this is a grown-ass man – IN A POLICE UNIFORM – telling me how awesome my spoke straws, pink bell, and rainbow light and beads were. Again, I was at maybe 10 brain cells by now. I was still out of it. I had brought my phone down with me, mostly so I could text my coworker that I would be late, this was taking a lot of time, and had I been running on my usual like 10,000 brain cells (I have no idea) I would have removed my standard phone case. I have a Samsung Galaxy J7 which is pretty giant. My phone case is a giant blue unicorn that encompasses the whole thing and then adds another 2 inches with a protruding horn – it’s made of silicone so it’s not a weapon or anything. It’s ridiculous and awesome and it makes me so happy. I forgot the case was on my phone. Mr. Police Officer noticed – suddenly a GIANT BRIGHT LIGHT was shining on my phone when he was exclaiming to the other officer here “HEY [OTHER OFFICER NAME]!!!! CHECK OUT THIS PHONE CASE!!!!!”. He had that giant standard issue cop flashlight shining directly on my giant unicorn phone case. And now, 20 more brain cells came to life.
Finally, the officer heard from another cruiser some blocks away that they had my bike. The officer had said repeatedly how cool my bike was during our 30 minutes together so I offered up that he could ride my bike back to me. I did not think that he would actually do that but – alas – he did. A grown-ass male police officer rode up on my pimped out bike – rainbow light in full effect. Welp, kids, I have now seen it all.
It was a very weird morning indeed.
The officer talking to me has the perpetrator in his cruiser and there’s another kid, the accomplice, in another officer’s cruiser just a few feet away. The officer speaking to me explains that the kid in his cruiser has been picked up and charged multiple times for different offences, he’s been through the system and the process before, and he is likely the product of drug-addicted or absent/neglectful parents. He asks if I want to prosecute. I asked the officer what happens when I say I want to prosecute – what happens to the kid? Does he get offered any sort of program like counseling or intervention? Does he go to juvenile jail? House arrest? What?
I explained to the officer that I used to work with kids on probation who tested positive for substance abuse. I wanted this kid to receive help, not just punishment. I have seen kids like him, not cared for by anyone – schools, parents, family, friends, the system, and they act out like this to get attention – what will be done with him? FOR him?
I have been contemplating what I want to do to help change the world – at least a little corner of it – and I’m taking this incident as a BIG OL’ SIGN that HERE! HELP YOUTHS! HELP AT-RISK TEENS WHO NEED TO BELONG!!!!!!!!!!!!
I decided to prosecute because that will get my words higher up the chain of command and I can change my mind at any time. I am writing a letter to everyone that I can think of, explaining that I’m prosecuting because what other choice is there? What options exist for this young man? What resources are he directed to? How can I as a citizen help?
I feel inspired to do something. I shall figure out the what and the how. I know the who and the why already.
This is my phone case, available on Amazon.