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A Great Day

One of life's biggest annoyances for me is trying to find something in a pile of junk in the car. I get the feeling that the entire pile is conspiring against me to hide whatever it is that I'm looking for. And so it was on this Spring morning in California, I was feeling bullied by this mountain of road trip knick-knacks in the passenger seat, working it's hardest to tumble down around my arms whenever I attempted to push it aside. For God's sake, I just want to find this book. Stuart and Scott are probably in Scott's house drinking or watching a good movie, or eating breakfast.

"Sir, do you need assistance?"

A policewoman! Where did she come from? She sounded suspicious.

"No, thank you."
"Sir, what is it you are looking for?"
"Just my book, thank you." I wanted her to leave me alone. I did have some herb in a brown, engraved, and otherwise conspicuous box on the floor of the back seat. I wasn't thrilled about this lady hovering over me like this.
"You mean to tell me you're not hiding a 'package' in there?"
"What the hell are you talking about?" Surely she didn't know about the herb. I wasn't too worried, though - she had no right to search the car. No probable cause.
"You aren't hiding anything from me?"
I reached into the back seat and slid the box underneath the front passenger seat. Immediately I thought this would look suspicious to the policewoman, but she said nothing about it.
"Look, ma'am, I'm just here with my friend from Kansas. We're visiting an old college buddy. I can't stand out here and answer your questions all day."

Rather than take offense, I think she was impressed with my forwardness. I was a little impressed myself. She glanced backwards. Another cop was walking towards the car. Well, hell, I thought.

"We're going to have to ask you to sit quietly in the back seat while we take you to the precinct," said the newcomer.

And for some reason, I did what they asked. Maybe because they were matching my forwardness with intimidating language, maybe because it was too early for me to resist anymore, or maybe because I was curious by now. In any case, I was in the back seat, watching unfamiliar California shops fly by me.

We hadn't been gone long when I regained my courage.
"Where exactly are we going?"
No answer. The newcomer was driving and the policewoman that grilled me about 'the package' was sitting right in front of me on the passenger side. She smiles a little. It's not the kind of devilish smile a bad guy might grin in a movie, but the simple smile that says, "I love California. I love the sun in my face."

About this time it occurred to me that these people might not be real cops.
"Let me see your badge," I said.
Nothing but a smile.
"Dammit," I said. I cracked the door open, hoping they'd slow down and let me out. But they kept driving. Soon, we came up to an intersection. We got into the right turning lane, which had a yield sign, and the car slowed just enough for me to jump out. I could see a family in a minivan on the adjacent street gawking at me. What is a person supposed to do in this situation? I didn't exactly feel panicked or in danger, but I felt obligated to wave my hands around and cry for help at traffic. My car continued down the road with the two non-police women inside, and I crossed traffic, waving my hands and yelling. I attracted considerable attention but no help at all.

"Shoot. I guess I can probably find my way back home." I started jogging, lest I take too long and forget some of the turns. I crossed some railroad tracks and took a right, jogged a little more. I crossed the street to my left and jogged a little ways down that road too. It didn't take too long to get back to the house.

I ran right through the front door and into the kitchen, where I startle Stuart in his undershirt, cooking breakfast. After an instant or two of adjustment, he relaxes and smirks.

"Dude! I just got my car stolen by some lady!"
Stuart smiled. "Yeah, I figured that's what was going on out there. I saw her talking to you earlier."
"You saw it happen and you didn't do anything?! What the hell is wrong with you?!"
Stuart just let out a little chuckle and waved off the question. He sat me down and put some bacon and eggs with salsa on my plate. I forked a little bit of the scrambled eggs into the salsa and with my left hand, crumbled a little bacon into it. I let it sit there on my fork for a while, appreciating the aesthetic quality of the whole thing. I decided that I better clear the brassy, sweaty taste off of my palate with a swig of sweet rice milk. When that was done, I stuck the loaded fork into my mouth and savored the hell out of that thing.

"Oh yeah, dude, I found your book. You'd left it on the couch yesterday." Stuart flopped the book on the table in front of me.
I looked at the cover, thought about my life, and rested my bones for a while. Life was good. "Sweet. Thanks, man."
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