We called in a hunch and got someone arrested. We felt like cops. For about 30 minutes.
Monday night for family home evening we decided to go to a movie because we knew once school started again, we would be in Titanic hell. It was our last chance to play until closing night. We headed toward Hurricane, the next town north, because the theatre there is never full. But let's tell the truth, in Hurricane we can get a chimichanga at Lupita's before we go. It's a really nice town, on the verge of Zion Canyon, but Lupita's is the whole reason to visit.
We turned off I-15 onto Hwy 9 and Andy spotted a very old Mercedes 300 TE meandering down the road. It wasn't going particularly fast, but...the windows were completely covered in newspapers. Every inch of every window in the car, except the driver's side and front windshield, were covered in layers of newspapers. Weird, right?
With Andy's miraculous eyesight...he could tell that the papers were from Las Vegas which meant that whoever was driving the car was not from around H.E.R.E. Yikes, I'm turning into a townie. My mind raced...Las Vegas!...he could be a dozen types.
In the back window, slid in between the papers and the glass, was an 8.5 by 11 sheet of computer paper with 3 letters and 3 numbers printed on it. That was it. I guess it was intended to be a license plate but it was missing the state, the year, the date... it wasn't the yellow temporary sticker that we are used to seeing. I recognized the Helvetica Bold font and thought "if you are going to print your plate at home, at least choose something creative." I'm a judger when it comes to fonts.
The car swerved back and forth, which added to the mystery of it. Probably drunk. Or high. Yep. He was high. It was getting creepier and creepier as we imagined, in our little minds, this kind of person was going to Hurricane to "make a drop." Of course, by this time, we had given this person an entire personality and it was not favorable. We assumed it was a man, and we assumed the car was stolen. We assumed that it was full of meth or crack cocaine and we were about to become town heroes.
Still, why would a drug runner intentionally cover up his windows with newspaper? Andy told me that cops usually pull over drug runners because they are going exactly the speed limit, looks like a mom car and has a D.A.R.E. sticker on the bumper. Maybe this guy was thinking of reverse psychology: "if I look like a drug dealer, they'll think I'm really just a PTA mom delivering pink princess cupcakes to my daughters birthday party and I needed to shield them from the heat. In my junker Mercedes. With the bald tires and lack of plates. I hope they enjoy my font choice!"
We were convinced that this guy was probably smuggling illegal immigrants inside his seat too...like they do. Do they?
And so we got the nerve to pull up next to the creepy car and glance over like we were being friendly. I thought we might get shot, but Andy said he would do it safely. Safely? What was my option there? Up he went, slowly passing this guy and I glanced over, smiling as if to say "Hey Las Vegas, welcome to Southern Utah!" I took a split second look at the woman driving then turned my eyes back to Andy so as not to get shot. Andy was STILL looking at her. He was practically inviting gun fire.
Obviously Andy got a better look because he said it was a man with a long braided ponytail. Damn his good eyesight! He said the guy looked "foreign." Which means, he could be from Hurricane. Truly, if you haven't lived in St. George all your life and then some, you are a foreigner. He was holding a video camera in his right hand, hence the swerving. We imagined that he was surveying the area and sending information back to the Middle East somewhere. We were going to be the center of a nuclear war. I knew we should have taken those jobs in Salt Lake.
When we got to the light infront of Purgatory (the local prison) it went red. I was truly freaking out. I was on his side of the car after all. Andy said "act natural and call the county sheriff." Other options please....
So I dialed 411 and they connected me to the county sheriff dispatch who took my information and then asked me to stay on the line while she found someone who could pull him over. My heart was beating so fast! I was on the verge of giggling to passing out. She asked me to keep naming the local landmarks as we passed them...Red Cliffs RV Park, Walmart, Chevron...then suddenly a black cop car pulled up behind us, moved over to pass us. The dispatcher said "wave at the cop if you are the car making this call." So we both WAVED like he was our long lost cousin from Tooele. What idiots. The panicked, giggly feeling will do that to you.
She told us to follow the cop car until the Mercedes pulled over, then to pull over ourselves and leave a big distance between us and them until his backup arrived. We were his backup! W...a...i...t. Both of us slid down in our seats at practically the same time. The cop turned on his lights, and the guy changed lanes in the middle of the intersection, without signaling, and pulled over just ahead of us. I knew he was looking back to see who he was going to have to kill, and it was going to be us. I put my sunglasses on.
We pulled over and stopped, watched the cop get out of the black car. Watched him lean down into the Mercedes. An hour went by (more like two minutes) okay it seemed like an hour, until the drug runner got out of his car and he had his hands closed over his head, elbows out. The cop frisked him, made him open all the doors of his car, trunk included, but even Andy was too far behind him to see what was in his car. Another cop showed up right then and we both yelled "backup!" and started giggling some more. What would we say in our speech to the people? Would anyone give us a medal?
The dispatcher called us back and said, "you are free to go now," as if she was watching us the whole time. Where were the CTU cameras? It must be Jack Bauer in the cop car after all. Maybe we should stick around and get his autograph. We were faithful, all six seasons. She continued, "the policeman has made an arrest." I didn't dare asked "for what?" But I was dying to find out. We felt a little disappointed and a lot relieved that they didn't need us anymore. We had done it. We had acted on an impulse and had gotten a bad-guy-foreign-drug-runner-international-terrorist arrested. We had helped the forces avert nuclear war. We saved the world. We were super citizens...for a minute.
Never judge a Mercedes by it's newpaper covering.
Once we got to Lupita's, hot chimichanga on the plate in front of me, the actual policeman that made the arrest called us! He did! I thought that was so nice of him. He wanted to thank us for making the call and thought he'd let us know that the guy in the paper covered car was actually from the Czech Republic. Well, I don't know my foreigners very well that's for sure. He was on a three month tourist visa and he had been driving from Houston, where he bought the Mercedes from someone who probably ripped him off because they gave him the ridiculous computer print out to use as a plate. He's Czech, he didn't know. But the car was actually registered in the name he had on his passport, and the plate's letters and numbers were the real deal.
He was headed to Zion Canyon, D.U.H., to rock climb. Double D.U.H. His car was full of climbing and camping equipment. The cop said is was a super nice guy, didn't speak English very well and was upset when they sited him for changing lanes in an intersection and not signaling when he did it. He's Czech, he didn't know. So the cop only gave him a warning. I would have done the same thing. The swerving, carrying a camera while you are driving...He's Czech, he didn't know. The camera was full of pictures of the great American southwest. I thought, you poor guy, don't kill your battery on Hurricane! Just drive another 30 miles, buddy. You haven't seen amazing yet!
The newspapers? He was out of money, so he was sleeping in his car and he didn't want people to rob him. Can't say as I blame him, still, the cop explained how creepy it looked here in the mild, judging, little-minded, state of Utah (yes, I'm talking about myself) and the guy...is Czech...he didn't know. He immediately took the paper out and apologized like crazy. There was no one buried in his seats, no drugs of any kind, and the glove compartment was full of all the right documents. He'd been saving and training his whole life to take this trip and some weirdos in Hurricane thought he was a terrorist and had him arrested.
We watch too much T.V.
Well...I feel bad and I don't. If you are going to drive a car in another country, rent, don't buy. Can't help wonder how many times that car broke down between Houston and Hurricane. Also, don't put newspaper in your windows, especially paper from Las Vegas. We thought you might be mafioso...or worse- some serial killer showgirl in drag. And if you're driving and video taping at the same time, you might want to google map that area and w.a.i.t. so as not to drain your battery before the real scenery arrives.
So I apoligize to the Czech's and the terrorists. (I'm a judger and T.V. has made me that way) But one last piece of advice....When you print out your own plate, just add the state, the date and use yellow paper. Oh, and Arial Bold next time. That's all. Hope you enjoy the memories you are about to have and can leave the one we gave you behind.
Sorry about that.