A belt some shoelaces and a city jail near Cleveland

During the summer of ’98, I had two jobs in Cleveland. During the day, I worked with kids and at night I threw boxes for RPS. On night after work, I drove out of the RPS driveway across the street into the gas station parking and then out on the street and was immediately stopped by a patrol car. I was sited for avoiding a traffic light and after running my license and my license coming up suspended I was arrested for driving on a suspended license.

I was not technically in the city of Cleveland but in one of the outer suburbs and as a result I was taking to a small city police station where I was processed and held. I would be eligible for bail in a couple hours and I had already called my mother who was going to bail me out so all I need to do was wait. There was no transferring me to the county or anything like that. Despite all of that, I was placed in a holding cell alone.

The cell was huge. The ceiling was like fifteen feet high and there was a bench along the far wall. There was no toilet or sink or anything like that in the cell. In fact, the only thing in the cell other than the bench was a small grate cover to what must have been a drain. I imagine that this cell was not always a cell and as I was sitting there trying to think of all the things this room could have been before it was a cell, my thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of a police officer.

“Give me your shoe laces and your belt,” he said.

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“For the safety of the prisoner, we are required to remove the prisoner’s shoe laces and belt.”

At this point I was tired and annoyed. I had worked all day at two jobs and instead of being at home resting, I was in jail for a computer error that the state of Georgia obviously was taking it’s sweet time correcting. The last thing I wanted to do was unlace my work boots. So I said,

“Look, I’m here for driving on a suspended license. A license that isn’t really suspended but the information hasn’t reached the computers yet. So, there’s no need to worry. I’m not going to injury myself.”

“Sir,” the officer barked, “I need you to remove your shoelaces and belt and hand them to me now.”

“Look at this cell,” I said. “I’d have to tie the shoelaces to the grate on the floor then ties them around my neck then jump up in the air and hope I die before I come back down.”

The officer immediately covered his mouth with his hands to keep me from seeing him laugh. Through his hands he said that he was just doing his job and would I please give him my shoelaces and belt.

I unlaced my shoelaces and removed my belt and handed them to the officer. He took the items and left but I noticed that he didn’t close the cell door. A minute later, I heard him and another officer talking and then the other officer burst into laughter. A few minutes later, the first officer returned and asked me if I wanted to come out and watch television with him and the other officer.

We drank sodas and watched Law and Order and I listened to stories about local crimes in their small part of the country. By the time my mother arrived to bail me out, the three of us had made plans to hang out again sometime. When the officer handed me my shoelaces, he burst into laughter again and said he couldn’t wait to go home and tell his wife about that one.