Posted by: Michelle Mitton | September 22, 2008

"Go Ahead! Arrest Me–I DARE You!"

Arrest Me I Dare YouGrace needed a round of shots so she wouldn’t get kicked out of school. I’m such a great mom that I put it off until the very last possible moment before finally dragging her down to the Health and Human Services building Friday afternoon, the day of the deadline.

It’s always busy there, if it’s not the rush for kindergarten immunizations with a waiting room full of sneezing children then it’s flu season with a bunch of old men waiting for their flu shots but when I walked in we were practically the only people in the place. It was spooky.

I’d brought Grace, David and Lillian in with me but Spencer said he had homework to finish and stayed in the car. After checking Grace into the system we sat down to wait for our number to be called. We waited. And we waited. And we waited . . .

An hour more into this lovely little adventure and the security guard sitting at his elevated desk by the entrance (I can only guess that there are a lot of people running into the clinic in broad daylight to make off with all the polio vaccines??) he got up from his station and walked over to me in a rather strange way. He approached somewhat slowly, leaned my direction, then when I looked up he said, “Do you have a child in your car?”

It took me a bit to register what he was saying and then to ponder upon whether or not I did in fact have a child in my car. I mean technically Spencer is nearly 12 so I wouldn’t call him a child, really more of a teen or young man, but under some circumstances perhaps he’d be considered a child but what on earth would Spencer or his age have to do with this guy and why was he asking me such a ridiculous question?

“No” I finally said, opting for the ornery route (after all we had been waiting forever) “My son is in my car. He’s 12.”

Then the guard said–and I kid you not, I completely did not make this up–“He can’t remain in your car unattended, he’ll have to come inside.”

I blinked. Then I blinked again. I had no response to that as I tried to fit the pieces of this very odd conversation together.

“What??” I said–hoping a second go-round would clear things up.

“Your child can’t remain in your car unattended. He’ll have to come inside.”

It finally reached me what he was saying but I couldn’t quite believe we were having the conversation.

“He’s 12,” I said.

“I’m sorry, unless he’s 16 he can’t be left unattended.”

“Okay here’s the thing here, he’s TWELVE,” And at this point I started to get a bit uppity. “He’s doing his ALGEBRA HOMEWORK for goodness sake–“

“I’m sorry ma’am but he can’t be left unattended.”

“So you’re telling me that a 12 year-old can’t be left in a parked car?”

“No ma’am. Not until he’s 16.”

“So in this town where a person can get a driver’s permit at 14, can ride the bus at any old age, can GET AN ABORTION whenever they need one–that they can’t sit in a PARKED CAR?”

“No ma’am.”

“You’re telling me that I’m an irresponsible mother because I’m letting my son do his homework in the car but if I were to let my son roam OUTSIDE the car in the parking lot, even dash out into the street randomly, perhaps let him lay down on the pavement with his head behind the wheels of the parked cars that only then would I be within the bounds of legality?”

“I’m sorry but he can’t stay in the car unsupervised.”

“You’re insane.”

“Well I’m sorry ma’am but he’ll have to come inside.”

By this time I wanted to take him down but I kept my cool–kind of–and decided to go to the heart of the matter.

“So let’s just say I let him stay there–what are you gonna do about it?”

“The police have been called.”

WHAT?

“The police have been notified, you’ll need to bring him inside.”

At this point he probably shouldn’t have turned his back on me to walk back to his desk because after being stuck in that stuffy, dirty, scummy hive of socialized medicine for a full hour with three hungry kids and no prospect of ever getting our stupid immunizations I was ready to take him down to the tile and show him what he could do with his security badge–he was short, I could have taken him I think. But my kids were watching me with these wild, open-mouthed looks and the thought flashed through my mind that maybe it wouldn’t do for the kids to see Mama pounding on the security guard in public.

I’m afraid that after my week’s experience with our dear Anchorage Police Department–including getting a totally bogus traffic ticket and not receiving ONE inquiry from the report we filed regarding the vandalism on our street–I was ready to take on the system and take it to its knees but then I noticed Lillian and David watching me with that “OH MY GOSH MOM IS GOING TO BE ARRESTED!” look on their faces. Now honestly? That’s not something I ever went into motherhood expecting to see so I decided that maybe taking the security guard down and pummeling him in frustration wasn’t the best use of my super powers.

I was steamed, I was ticked, I was amazed at the idiocy of it all but I got up and went out to get Spencer from the car. As it turns out he had just finished his homework and was actually half way up the steps on his way inside before I even got to the door but I really wanted to tell him to go back into the car and wait for the sirens.

“Dinner’s going to be a little late tonight kids. Mom’s in the hole.”

We all sat down again and waited some more for Grace’s turn in the exam room and after a few minutes Spencer turned to me and asked, “Mom, can I go get something out of the car?”

I smiled and said, “Of course you can!” then dangled my keys loud and long enough for the guard to see that yes, my son was returning to the scene of the crime. Unattended. Just to tweak him.

That evening at the dinner table I told the story to Andrew who somehow found it rather funny.

“I really wanted to see what would happen,” I said. “I was really REALLY tempted to tell the jerk to do his worst and go ahead and arrest me but after that crazy ticket I got this week I had this feeling that they really would drag me off to prison and I didn’t think I wanted to deal with that. Not this week anyway.”

“That would be so cool!” Andrew said, grinning.

What?”

“That would be so cool! Dragging you off to prison–I mean can you imagine the post you could write about that?”

“You’re a sick person, you know that?” I said grinning back.

“Besides,” he said, “They wouldn’t arrest you.”

“Why not?”

“Because if they took you off to prison then all the kids would be left at the Health and Human Services building. Unattended.”

“You’re a great attorney, you know that?”

“I love you too. Too bad you didn’t get arrested. I would have loved to have bailed you out.”

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