PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Sunday, January 09, 2005

8-Track Flashbacks, Or How I (Briefly) Ended Up In A Women's Prison

OK, I have (what I think are funny) stories & I'm going to try to write at least one each weekend. Thus the 8-track flashback. Now, on to the more intriguing part: how I ended up in a women's prison.

Last week I referenced the stupendous '86 Ford Escort that died in a blazing fire - that story's pretty damned funny, and it's on my list. Maybe next week. It's a long story. But in any event, I was living in St. Louis, the Escort was charred, I had to get a car, and I didn't know what I was doing. (This would be the pre-Consumer Reports-addicted Jennifer.) So I ended up with a black four-door Neon, mostly because the car salesman didn't treat me like a stupid woman and worked with me on price. It had power nothin'. No power locks, no power windows, I guess it did have power steering, but it would prove to be a car that would provide me with a laundry list of what my NEXT car would have on it. But it did have air conditioning, which was an awesome improvement over the Escort, especially in those St. Louis summers!
So, I had to go register the car. I worked in Clayton at the time, and I called a phone number to find out where I needed to go. They said, go to the courthouse & go to the third floor. Okey dokey!

I got up early (no small feat) and drove to work. My office actually faced the courthouse, and I saw an entrance to the courthouse on the lower level, rather than going up all the "front stairs" like in a movie. So I gathered up my paperwork, grabbed my purse, and walked the block to that lower-level entrance. I am, in general, a pretty observant person. I notice smaller details - whether it's because I'm always seeking humor, or having been a fine arts major, I think you just never know what you're going to find and it's important to look around and notice/see as much as you can. This is a quality that exists quite harmoniously within me, right next to the sing-song doomPAH-DEEdah fogbanks quality that finds me staring at the cloud formations and nearly stepping on a four-foot black snake. So! As I enter this corridor shortly after 8 a.m., I notice, as I head to the elevators, a small sign above a doorway labeled "Sex Offender Registration". I think, "Huh! Well, I am in the basement, that's probably where you'd put such a room."
I get on the elevator. I am surrounded by five men, all of whom are law enforcement sorts. The are all a foot taller than me, but I DON'T CARE: I HAVE A NEW CAR. And I got up EARLY. Look at me go. GO GO GO. I notice that one of them looks at me strangely. I think, "Whatever." Being a big gal and having a unique style has garnered me a lot of looks, so I filter them and buffer them and remember that my favorite part of visiting New York City was the fact that NOBODY looked at me. I press my button. Everybody's silent. In retrospect, I wonder what in HELL they thought I was doing! They all got off on the next floor & I continued on to my floor. When I got off the elevator, it was strangely silent. I started walking along the corridor, because it looks like the only way to go. There are small rooms behind thick glass, but they are empty and it doesn't really dawn on me what they are: cells. DoomPAH-DEEdah! I see a bank of small black-and-white television screens through another glass wall. There is a man sitting in the room, back to me, facing the screens. I do not see myself on any of the screens, because these cameras are on the rooms - uh - cells. A little alarm starts ringing in my head as I clutch my papers and head further into the building, and then there is a door, marked "authorized personnel only" and I think, "I do not think I am supposed to be here." and I beat a hasty retreat. On the lower level, I spy a janitor. I say, "Hello! I am trying to register my car. Where do I go?" And he says, "You need to go next door! To the NEW courthouse." I say, "Oh! No wonder I am confused! They told me to go to the third floor, and I went up there and didn't see anyone!"
He said, "Ma'am, that's a holding facility for female prisoners. You're not supposed to be up there."
"I know," I said, meekly.

Now, of course the rest of my morning did not go smoothly. Turns out if you live in St.Louis CITY you can't go registering your car in St.Louis COUNTY. Two separate things, like church & state. So after getting to the right building and the right floor, I was told I had to go somewhere else to get my plates & registration. It's all very complex & rigid and there is no getting around the rules. However, it was very simple for me to just stroll IN to the women's detention center via an employees-only elevator, and I could have registered someone as a sex offender, for kicks. Which just goes to show that the DMV is probably our country's greatest, impenetrable, complex infrastructure, and we should have THOSE people fighting terror, because they would simply frustrate & stupefy Al Qaeda to the point they'd pack up & go home & drink some gin and thank their lucky Allah for not having a DMV. Imagine if we combined the DMV with the Post Office! We'd have this country safe again in no time. Because the post office, my friends, also holds some 8-track flashback memories, and they are equally stupefying. Tune in next week. We might have to push the burnt Escort story back again.

posted by PlazaJen, 1:32 PM