Police Encounter: Baytown, Texas 2016

I traveled to Houston to see my family and get some work done. An old friend from Jr. High and I reconnected through social media, so we were going to meetup. I traveled down to Baytown to meet them at a restaurant. They never arrived. He said he got tied up at home with his kid, and he would love it if I came over in about an hour. I don’t have kids, but I try to be patient with parents, especially parents of young kids.

I had about an hour to waste, so I decided to go to a local bar. At first, I didn’t drink. Then, I decided, “Why not?”

My wife manages the finances. This was the arrangement made after the second time I was hospitalized with a bi-polar manic. In short, I will never sign over my finances to anyone else ever again. Honestly, I think she contributed to the last breakdown, though she denies it and blames it on the cannabis. Of course, blame the cannabis. “Reefer Madness” rhetoric is getting old. Find some new, more intelligent arguments.

So, I had asked for funds a few hours earlier. She new I was traveling. After I had finished my evening, I went to pay. The card was declined. I looked at my bank account. No funds. I explained the situation to the bartender, and subsequently called my wife.

No answer.

I waited. Trying her again every 10 minutes or so. After about 30 minutes, a Baytown police officer shows up.

“Sir, it’s my understanding that you refuse to pay your tab.”

“That’s not true, sir.” And I went on to explain the situation.

He eventually asked for my ID.

“Mr. Wagenseller?” He seemed intrigued. (You see, I am usually the first Wagenseller a police officer has met.)

“Yes, sir?”

“Do you have any cash in your wallet?”

“Not enough to pay the tab.”

“Look again.” He said.

I looked, and sure enough, I had enough money to pay the ~$70. I thought I had like $20 or something. Why can’t I have this problem more often?

“I do have enough. I have way more than I thought I did, and I guess that’s a good problem to have, huh?”

Everyone laughed.

I gave the cash to the bartender.

“So, now we need to arrange a ride.” The officer said begrudgingly.

“A ride?”

“Yes, sir. You have been drinking, and you are not safe on the road.”

“Am I coherent?”

“Yes.”

“Am I stumbling?”

“No.”

“Am I slurring.”

“No.”

“How are my eyes?”

“Clear and direct.” (Cops often look for glassy, red, or eyes that jitter back and forth. These things are especially true of people who have been drinking.)

“So, by your estimation, do I seem intoxicated?”

“No, sir. You don’t. How many drinks did you have?”

I looked at the bartender. “What would you say? 8? 9?” (In about a 60-90 minutes.)

“That’s about right.” The bartender confirmed.

The police officer looked me over one more time and said, “Ok. I will let you drive out of here if you promise that you are good to go. Go straight home.”

“What if I have important places to be with important people?” (I was honestly just pushing a little.)

“Mr. Wagenseller, if you say you have important places to be with important people, then who am I to stop you? Just be safe out there.”

“Yes, sir.” I said.

I walked out of there, hopped in my car, and drove home. I had missed my interaction with my old friend, and I was worried I would be late to the house. I made it home 5 minutes late. Of course, my father gave me an earful, and then I left.

I later told a good friend about it, and he practically shouted, “You had that many drinks and the cop let you drive home?!?!?”

“Yes. And it’s not the first time this has happened.”

“Dude. You are nuts.” He said.

“Certifiably.” I retorted.

We laughed.

Cops can be good people. I think many of them are just cogs in a system and they don’t know it…much like the masses that still believe the government cares about them in any fashion. There are good people everywhere, even in law enforcement. Always try to be respectful and courteous, until someone gives you a reason not to.

Wagen, over and out.

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