Three years ago we had the most unsettling Saturday afternoon. I underscore three years ago because some kind of statute of emotional limitations has run a course. Although my husband looks like an extra from the Sopranos it was still a surprise to receive a collect phone call from the North Las Vegas City Jail. Our little family prides itself on being collectively boring and law abiding so this turn of events was a jolt. When the Italian left to do errands there didn't seem to be a possibility of incarceration....but then who outside of criminals see jail coming?
It was Saturday, that is important because the weekends are a bit more problematic for breaking folks out of jail. That fact is simply layered on top of this being the same weekend my younger daughter brought her boyfriend home from college to meet the family.
So here is how it went down.....the Italian had finally finished repairing his beloved 20 year old truck. It had been in the garage for months without registration, insurance or plates, so he was taking it to be smogged and registered. During it's long season of in-operation we had taken it off our insurance and turned in the plates. As I said we are law abiding folks so I was careful to add it back to our insurance the day before he was going to do everything. Since the DMV is near Deseret Industries (the goodwill kind of operation we support) he loaded the back of the truck with bags of clothing and other things to donate. I waved good bye and went to work in the yard. Our plans were to meet up later in the day with everyone and have dinner so we could sit and stare at the new boyfriend. Then our plans changed.
After working in the yard for several hours I came back in the house to see several messages (10) on the phone. Before I could listen to the messages the phone rang.
"Will you accept a collect call from the North Las Vegas Jail?"
There was only one person I knew going to North Las Vegas that day, and his named ended in a vowel. In certain parts of the world that makes you an instant suspect, like being blond makes you dumb and being an attorney makes you the brunt of every joke. For the record the Italian really is a puppy dog of a person, appearances aside. After I accepted the call he explained he was pulled over for making a lane change without putting on his blinker. So not only was he guilty of that egregious error, but the truck wasn't registered, he didn't have the proof of insurance card (which we did have, but hadn't put it in the glove box) and they said he had an outstanding warrant for a ticket he didn't pay. Just getting one of those things cleared up would have kept him out of jail, but it was Saturday and they couldn't (or wouldn't) get the insurance company on the phone. The ticket in question had been paid through an attorney friend but no one told him it was paid late, so a warrant had been placed. Trouble on trouble
He told me there were 3 police cars involved, he was taken out of his beloved 20 year old truck, handcuffed and put in the back of the police car. No windows were even cracked, and it was hot outside! He explained he would be needing his diabetes medicine soon, but it was their mission to get this criminal to jail. When we finally spoke he had been there for 2 hours. The only thing they had told him was for someone to call the jail and follow the prompts on how to get him out. My first reaction was to go completely cold. Most of my brain stopped working with only the panic part fully functioning . For the record the panic part of your brain is not the best part to rely on in a situation like this. Perhaps if you are being chased by a bear...but not so much when you need to make sense. I cannot recall who I contacted first but I know it was an attorney....I am friends with roughly 10,000 attorneys. It is well known you shouldn't leave your home without an attorney, and never was that more true than this day. Starting with numbers in my phone I just went down the list, deputy district attorney? Not available. Another deputy district attorney? What jail is he in? North Las Vegas? I don't know any judges there. A criminal attorney, a zoning attorney, a personal injury attorney, a bankruptcy attorney even the attorney for a hospital, no one knew what to do or who to contact on a Saturday, especially in North Las Vegas. With all this bad news, I assumed my friend who is a district court judge couldn't help either. Besides, I couldn't get her on the phone.....weekends.
The promptings on the phone to the jail said it would be 3 hours before they started processing him. Three hours? My oldest son and daughter got in the car with me for the ride to North Las Vegas.
All during this time my younger daughter, the one home from college for the weekend with her new boyfriend, were attending the Rebel basketball game. She was calling to find out where to meet for dinner. Exactly what should I tell her? I couldn't tell her about jail, bail and epic fail, so I just said, "You know we haven't really decided where to eat yet." That would buy an hour...what to do after that was anyone's bet.
After being in line at the jail forever they informed me I needed to give them $1600.00 (yikes) The beloved truck was at an impound lot at a location they wouldn't disclose. I am not sure why I didn't qualify for that bit of information, but they did tell me it would be $200 a day. Thank goodness a branch of my bank was still open because I couldn't get that much money from the ATM. And the jail doesn't take anything but cold, hard cash. For an instance I wished I had been a bank robber.
Jail is a complicated place.
Now we just had to wait in a large room with the rest of the families of the unfortunate incarcerated. I spoke with the Italian one more time to assure him we were doing everything we could to get him out. He told me he had been given a sandwich, and they took his belt, shoelaces, watch and ring.
My daughter called again, and I had no idea what to tell her, so my son took the phone and said, "Dad's in jail." I don't know how there conversation went, but Trey said they were handling it and not to worry. Still it wasn't clear how long this was going to take, and no one was willing to tell me anything. Everyone with authority was behind locked doors, you had to press buzzers to get anyones attention. When you did get someones attention they wouldn't tell you anything helpful. The automated phone calls were just that, automated, nothing interactive. To say it was the most frustrating experience I had encountered would be an understatement. I am used to information, problem solving and solutions, and this was a classic example of, "you cannot get there from here."
Finally a wonderful friend of my husband's, an actual Italian criminal attorney, called me back. He told me not to worry, it would work out. He didn't know any judges in North Las Vegas, but just keep doing what we were doing and eventually he would get out that night. We made some typical ethnic jokes about this situation and laughing released some tension. Now we had been there for hours, and the Italian had been in jail hours before that, and we were facing hours beyond that. Just when discouragement started to set in again, my friend, the District Court Judge, called back. She had been to a cheerleading competition (remember it was Saturday?) and couldn't hear her phone. She let me know that District Court Judges supersede any jurisdiction and it didn't matter the Italian was in North Las Vegas jail. After one phone call from her the folks at the jail informed me the Italian would be released within the hour. "Just go out to your car and wait." I think I cried.
We waited about a half hour when he came out to the car, and of course he brought a friend he had made in jail. My husband has always found himself with those he refers to as, "the least of them." To my knowledge he has never turned his back on anyone in need. He worked at a hotel and casino in downtown Las Vegas for 25 years, always with the least of them, so it didn't surprise me he would bring someone from jail with him. We loaned him our phone, the Italian gave him some money, a hug and off we went.
Now onto damage control with the new boyfriend and my younger daughter. Nope...there is no way to fix this one, it will just have to be a story for the ages....
Remember when dad went to jail?