Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How getting police records was almost a comedy of errors

Today was one of those pile-all-the-doo-doo-on-you days. At work, I sat through 2-1/2 hours of training for a new interoffice computer program. That session made me fall very behind on all my daily duties. As I struggled to keep from having to stay overtime, I was asked at 4:35 p.m. to go pick up a 235-page police report at Tempe Police Station. Now, for you non-Arizona people, you need to usually take the freeway to get to downtown Tempe from downtown Phoenix. It usually takes about 15 minutes but at 4:35, there's no telling how monstrous traffic can be. And of course, the public records office closes at 5 p.m. And in my building, you have to take the elevator down, walk across the lobby to the garage, etc. Basically, losing minutes right there. It never ceases to amaze me at how these requests come at the worse time. But I had to give it a try.

So, I speed down there as fast as I can without getting a ticket. On the way there, my cell rings and it's my friend Leah. She wanted to know if I was free after work. I explained through some griping what I was up to and how there was no way I was going to get there before 5. She happened to be in Tempe too. As I got closer, I grew more anxious. I had never been to the police station in Tempe. When I got to a major cross street, Mill Avenue, I didn't know which way to turn. Here's a rough paraphrase of our conversation as Leah was still on the phone with me:

Leah: "I'm at that intersection too. I'll turn south, you turn the other way. If I see the police station, I'll let you know to turn around."

Next best arrangement to having a GPS. Sure enough, she saw the station first. So, I U-turned stat and pulled up in front of the police station. I bounded out of the car leaving the hazard lights going. I looked at my watch. 5:05. !@#*$

I went into the lobby and there was nobody there to check me in. A plain-clothes police officer opened the second door between the lobby and records desk.
"Can I help you?"
"I missed the picking up the public records by five minutes. Is there any way I can still pick up? I'm with the media."
"Public records? Nobody's here right now. Nobody will help you. Sorry." Am disappointed at how he's kind of curmudgeonly and straight-laced.

He went back inside. I wanted to kick something. I did not want to have to drive back here tomorrow right when they opened. Meanwhile Leah had texted me: "Watching your car so it doesn't get towed." Not willing to give up yet, I decided my best bet was to try and look my most vulnerable without turning on the waterworks. So, despite wearing a short skirt and heels, I dropped to my knees there in the lobby. I put the printout of our public records request on the floor. I pretended to stare in deep thought at it and at my cell and did my best to look utterly distraught. I mean I was distraught, just not "utterly." After a few minutes of staring at the ground, I got up, dusted off my knees and was ready to throw in the towel. I called the office and told a colleague to tell the news editor I wasn't able to get the records in time. As I hung up, I noticed the same police officer was waving vigorously. When I was sure it was me he was waving at, I walked back through the second set of glass doors.

Officer: "I don't normally work at this desk. But I guess if all the other media already picked this up, it must be pretty important. You better have it too."

I couldn't believe it...My pity party-of-one actually worked? He took my press credential and started gathering the 200-some pages. He said since it was after 5, he didn't have any change or credit card machine to use. I would have to pay cash. The total was $57.50. Despite having gone to the ATM yesterday and having $13 in ones in my wallet, I was still shy of exact change. I rang up Leah.

"Leah, do you happen to have any cash?"
"Yeah, I have some. I have some twenties."
"Do you have anything smaller? I need $4!"
"I have some ones. I'll bring it out to you. But I don't want to try to open the doors since it's after 5."

Two minutes later, I turn and I see Leah for the first time since we spoke on the phone. She's standing there sliding singles in a crevice in between the glass doors. Chuckling, I run over and grasp them all. I run back to the window and start shoving $17 in ones under the window to the officer.
"Um...guess I won't be going to the clubs tonight."
He actually smiled and I decide he's not so curmudgeonly after all. I tell him I want his name so I can send him a thank-you card or perhaps baked goods.

After all this, I get my reports. Since he couldn't print me a receipt, he wrote a very detailed post-it. I'll still have to go back for a receipt but at least I can go when it's convenient. He tells me all he wants in return is for me to send an e-mail to his boss (whose address he's written down) and tell him how he helped me. Still surprised at what I transpired, I shake his hand and run back out to Leah to thank her. We decide to meet up for dinner tonight because we can't stop chuckling about the whole thing.

I don't think Leah ever played a role in any of my work-related tasks. So, that was new for me. Now, I don't know if it was "wrong" for me to get so...um...theatrical. I've never tried to use feminine wiles to get what I wanted. However, I am not above a little emoting or looking vulnerable. I'm so happy that as one editor put it, "for the second time in two weeks, the news gods smiled on me."

1 comment:

Bleeding Healer said...

Just visited your blog,it's awesome, love your writing style.This was especially hilarious.Looking forward to read more.