Caught By The Fuzz
July 28, 2004
Well, after writing today’s diary (the one about the Delays and Bush’s assassination), I was walking home when I realized I wanted an L.A. Times to, you know, see what’s going on or what’s NOT going on. About 5 blocks from where I live there’s an LA TIMES vending machine. It costs 50 cents fro papers bought Monday through Saturday. I put 2 quarters in lifted the lever. Or tried, I should say. It wouldn’t give. I yanked it harder and my 2 quarters popped out. I put them back in and tried the lever again. The quarters got stuck again and the lever locked on me again. So I yanked it again and, the machine not being bolted, it jumped a bit and my quarters came out. So I gave up and started walking home, figuring I’d stop by Albertson’s Supermarket for the paper. Or so I thought.
As I walked away from the vending machine I noticed a SMPD car make a U-turn. Now, this wasn’t your everyday walk-in-the-park u-turn but a mad, ‘somebody got murdered’ u-turn. I stopped to see what was happening, just in case bullets were gonna fly. I wanted to know when and where to duck. But there wasn’t a murder. Not even close. The Santa Monica Police Department car was coming for you-know-who! And the fellow couldn’t just pull up to me. Nope. He had to PARK ON THE SIDEWALK. I guess he thought I was someone else, you think? He exited his car and the following conversation took place:
“Sir, would you please step over to the car and please present some I.D.”
I did as he asked and reached in my back pocket but, guess what? No wallet. I had on the same pants from Last night at the Bitter Redhead. I didn’t bring my wallet last night and forgot to put it in my pocket this morning.
[See, I got a phone call from Keith Stodart this morning explain to me that a package that I UPS’d to him yesterday was being held in Kentucky customs before being shipped to England because I’d forgotten to write something on the invoice. So, as soon as UPS opened up (9am PST, about 30 min. after Keith called) for business I went in and took care of the problem. I am happy to report the package is most likely over Island as I write this. After leaving I headed to the Velocity café for tea and to use the internet.]
“Um, officer, I’m REALLY sorry but I don’t have my wallet with me.”
Next came a good 10-minute lecture on how our hero was once in the military and that you never went anywhere without your I.D. He’s fought in the Gulf War and blah blah blah blah blah. Ok, so I apologized like 200 times. THEN, apparently, I made a huge mistake and asked the WRONG question, which turned his ‘please’ and ‘sir’ into extended questions about ME and my wallet. I DID, however, wonder how Santa Monica – a beautiful, liberal seaside community – could be confused with Iraq. Our hero didn’t get the joke but I got it that I should chill, as I was beginning to push the envelope.
I did know my CDL (Calif. Drivers Lisc.) By heart and recited it. Twice. He ran it in. In the meantime, I was given another lecture about how it’s against the law to walk around without Identification. Now, I’m no Perry Mason but I DO know that’s total B.S. But that didn’t stop him from trying to frighten the crap out of me. Except that those kind of tactics don’t work on the Diary. See, the Diary gets bored VERY EASILY and well, this was about as exciting a thing as I’ve experienced since Frazer took a ‘poo’ on the tour bus back in June. So, after about 15 minutes of standing around while my CDL was being checked I asked -let’s call him OFFICER BOZO – him about the Shaq trade. He wasn’t a Laker fan, he told me. He was from Sacramento, originally. Oh, I figured, so THAT’S his problem! And also, what he probably wasn’t aware of is that I’d been watching Judge Mathis and Judge Marilyn on a regular basis since I got back from England.
My CDL report came back and he asked me my address and I answered it correctly. THEN, as I mentioned, I ASKED THE WRONG QUESTION.
“‘Scuse me Officer, but, er, why am i being stopped and questioned? I mean, I can’t say I was really going anywhere or doing anything important, and by the u-turn you made i figure you took me for somebody else. But i was curious if i did anything wrong?”
“Well, for one thing you were seen vandalizing private property when you were beating up on that (points to vending machine) thing over there.”
“What’s the other thing?”
“What other thing”
“You said, ‘For one thing…’ and when I say that I eventually follow it up with the other thing.”
” There isn’t another thing, smart guy. We got a problem with people abusing those machines, either to try and get a news paper or to jerk it until money popped out. It’s a $50 fine and it even says it on the thing (vending machine.)”
” I didn’t abuse it! It took my money and i yanked it a bit, sure, and then my money came right out. (I showed him the 2 quarters) If you out these back in you’ll see the machine isn’t allowing you to get the paper. Go and see for yourself.”
“Sir, i don’t need to see for myself. You were observed abusing the machine. And the fact that you know a CDL number doesn’t fly for me. For some Officers but not me. I am going to have to ask you to empty your pockets.”
Officer Bozo wasn’t going to cut me any slack. But at least he was back to calling me ‘Sir’, which I took (incorrectly) as a good sign. So i pulled the contents out and placed them on the hood of his car. They were:
My home keys
A UPS receipt
He looked over the UPS receipt, walked over to his car and presented me with a blank piece of paper and a pen.
“Sir, would you please sign your name on this.”
So I signed it and handed it back to him. He had me sign it 2 more times, went to his car, said something to his radio and came back.
“Listen, Mr. Randle, I’m letting you off with a warning this time. Next time, If I see you banging on ANY machines I’m going to have to issue you a ticket. Understand what I’m telling you?”
I was kind of upset at his talking down to me. I hadn’t damaged the machine and the quarters DID stick when you loaded them. I didn’t want to walk away feeling angry and worse, feeling like I’d done something wrong. So I thought about the original Americans who stood up against the King of England and the words just sort of came out…
“Officer Bozo, with all due respect, let’s go over to the machine and put 2 quarters in and you can SEE that when you try to open the lever, it sticks and with a second yank, your money comes back out. There’s no abuse here. And also, i know for a fact that, if I’m not in a moving vehicle, I am not required by law to have I.D. on me. Not in California. I live 5 blocks from here and was completely in my rights this morning. I know you probably get tired of hearing this but I can think of a laundry list of things you could be doing other than spending 30 minutes talking to me over a 50 cent newspaper. I don’t mean any disrespect but people get really upset knowing Officers waste our time when there are more important matters at hand. For the record, I just wanted to state that.”
Officer Bozo’s demeanor changed not one bit.
“Mr. Randle, you are more than welcome to call the SMPD and report this incident, if you so wish. My name is Officer Bozo the Clown and my badge number is ********. Now, unless there’s anything else, have a nice day.”
I didn’t want to call his superiors. Why? What’s the point? But I DID want to prove my innocense. So I jogged over to the machine and put 50 cents in and the lever stuck, just like before. So Officer Bozo came over. So I yanked it again, not too hard, but a good, firm yank. And guess what? 3 quarters popped out! I’d made a profit! I told him that I wasn’t gonna ‘rat him out’ but that I DID write a dairy that gets over 10,000 hits a week. I told him he could find it at and that I was certain to write up today’s events. Officer Bozo advised me not to use that particular machine again, bid me a good day, got in his car and split. I figured he was going to get a donut or something. There was no telling with some of these SMPD boys. I felt vindicated. You could tell he got enjoyment bullying people. I mean, he was a nice enough guy (I’ve seen MUCH worse) but he really did make a big deal out of nothing. And i never did get that paper. But my day started on such an exciting note. And it was only 10 in the morning…