Saturday, February 17, 2007

Having the Right to Remain Silent

It was a Saturday in May like any other. A beautiful hot Texas spring day. My parents still lived in Colorado full time, but had bought their place in the country between Eastland and Cisco and the Last Stop was born. They knew that is where they were going to retire (hence the name the Last Stop…get it?) , so they had started plans to build their home. But during that process, when they would come to Texas, they would stay with their friends, Victor and Janice, just like they were doing this time.

Since I immediately fell in love with the Last Stop, I tried to get there whenever I could, too, especially when mom and dad were in town.

I left Austin and all was well. For about 200 miles until I had made the final turn towards the Stop in Cisco, Texas.. I was, literally, FIVE MILES from my final destination when I came through little Cisco. And I made the fatal mistake of driving 38 in a 35 mile an hour zone on the edge of town. That’s right, I was driving 3 miles over the speed limit. And I remember I’m singing really loudly to the song on the radio.

I look in my rear view mirror to see Cisco’s ONE police car pulling me over.

Oh man, I don’t feel like dealing with this. What was I doing wrong?

I pulled over and deputy sheriff Barney Fife stepped out and came over to my car where he told me he had “clocked” me going 38 in a 35-mile an hour zone. And he was real lectury about it. As if I had been tearing top speed down a street full of blind, deaf children while being loaded and blindfolded, instead of going 38 down a road that was 10 yards from the “city limits”, flanked by fields on both sides. I held my mouth shut because I knew the only thing that would come out otherwise would be a smart aleck comment, and that never goes down well with any officer, but especially a small-town cop. I just handed him my driver’s license and registration, which he took before returning to his car. “Oh, I see you’re from AUSTIN”, he said kind of sneerily, as if that totally explained my unexplainable speed limit ignoring behavior. I WAS 3 MILES OVER THE LIMIT!

My folks and I had made a definite plan to meet at 3:00 that afternoon because I had the key they needed to open the first gate. Dad had left his in Colorado, which was no problem, because I had one too. While waiting there on the side of the road, I called them to let them know I might be a little bit late. Cell phone service is sometimes spotty in that countryside, so unfortunately I didn’t reach them that time.

I organized some things in my car. I laughed when I looked in the rear view mirror and realized how ugly I looked. It was a hot May day so I was wearing old shorts and an old blouse, no make up and my hair looked pretty gross. Oh well, this was a coveted day off – of which I had few back in those days because of my job – and I was just excited to get to the Last Stop and check it out.

It was about this time that I realized Barney Fife had been gone for a really long time. I knew the process didn’t usually take this long. So I became even more irritated, but chalked it up to Cisco’s small town system.

Finally, about 30 minutes later, I look out my side mirror and I see that Deputy Fife is getting out of his car. But instead of coming straight to my door, he’s circling way out and around me. The first sign of trouble hit me at that point. As I watched him creep way around me, I NOTICED HE UNSNAPPED HIS GUN HOLSTER, as if he was getting ready to draw his pistol! That was the first time I uttered the phrase I would say again at least 100 times that day, “What is going on here?”

Deputy Fife is circling around me and he yells out, “STEP OUT OF THE VEHICLE”.

Blink. Blink, blink.



I will never forget the shock of adrenaline and feeling of total fear that surged through my body at that moment. It was that fight or flight reaction that is a part of us just as surely as our opposable thumbs.

I yelled out, “What’s going on?” but again he told me to step out and put my hands on the car.

So I did. Shaking like a leaf, I got out of my car and put my hands on the roof.

Barney Fife comes up behind me and says, too loudly, “YOU’RE UNDER ARREST. You have the right to remain silent…”. I tuned out of the Miranda rights reading because all I was able to register at that moment were those two words, “under arrest”.

What the f is going on?

He then tells me he’s going to have to PAT ME DOWN! I’m wearing shorts and a shirt – there weren’t many places I could hide my AK47 - but there I was, on Highway 6, five miles from home, with my feet spread, hands on the roof of my car, being patted down after being told I was under arrest.

For going 38 in a 35 miles an hour zone.

When I saw him get out the handcuffs, I finally became unfrozen and burst into tears. WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? I was finally able to shout. I think that freaked the guy out that he finally heard my voice. WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME? “Ma’am, you’re under arrest and I’m taking you in.” TAKING ME IN? TAKING ME IN WHERE? FOR WHAT? Ma’am, there is a warrant out for your arrest, I’m taking to the Eastland County Jail.


He never did tell me. I learned a lot about our law during this whole episode, and one thing I learned is that they have 24 hours to charge you with your crime. If there is a warrant out for your arrest, that’s all that matters. No one has to tell you anything until you are arraigned before the judge, and they have 24 hours to hold you before presenting you to said judge.

It was then that Barney Fife put me in handcuffs and led me to his car. And put me in the back seat like you see in the movies, by putting his hand on top of my head and pushing me in. I was completely terrified and near hysterics.

We drove away I looked back and saw a tow truck hooking my car up and taking it away. This might have been the most surreal moment of my life thus far.

FIVE MILES down the road we passed the turn off to the Last Stop, I pleaded and convinced the cop to pull in so I could give my parents the key they needed. He begrudgingly did this, but unfortunately, mom and dad hadn’t arrived yet and they weren’t there. So the guy glared at me and we turned back around to get on the road to Eastland.

We drove two more miles and I couldn’t believe what I saw ahead of us.

It was another black and white in the middle of the road with its lights on, with the door to the back seat open and another deputy waiting outside the door HOLDING HIS SHOTGUN across his chest. The Cisco cop tells me we’re at the Eastland town limits and he is going to transfer me to an Eastland officer for the rest of the trip – those remaining THREE MILES. So with cars passing on both sides of us, with me in shorts and bad hair and hysterics, wearing handcuffs, I’m taken out of one car and led to another cop car in the ditch where I’m pushed in the back seat again. The Cisco cop drives away and the Eastland cop gets behind the wheel and drives into town WITH HIS FLASHING LIGHTS ON.

Without asking for permission, I managed to get my cell phone out of my purse and I called mom and dad. Conjure up the image of how difficult that was to do with handcuffs on. THANKFULLY dad answered. In that happy dad voice that he has, making jokes that they were just a few miles from the Last Stop and couldn’t wait to get there! All I had time to say before the deputy made me turn off my phone away was, “Dad, I’m being taken to jail.” To his credit, dad didn’t waste any time asking what was going on. He just said in that more serious dad voice that often gives me comfort, “Hang in their doodle. We’ll meet you there.”

I will never forget the total fear I felt when we pulled up the Eastland County Jail and I had no idea what was about to happen.


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  • At 2/17/2007 , Blogger Emig Family said...

    Oh my gosh. I'm reading this with my chin on the floor. I'm screaming "no way!" at my computer and asking it questions. It's not answering, and the cats are a little freaked out. Don't leave me hanging long!


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