So then…I finish my shift and drive home. Yeah, that’s right – I’ve got a job – and I’m only a TEENAGER. Yep. (trying to act casual, but super stoked!)
(I’d been so nervous during my interview at Grandell’s Amusement Park, but honestly – how could they resist my professional interview outfit: pastel teal polyester pants with a striped collared shirt – and get this, one of the stripes was the exact same shade as the pastel teal pants! No, seriously. I like to think it’s that kind of meticulous attention to detail that impressed them to hire me immediately.)
All summer, my teen coworkers toil outside in the broiling Louisiana sun, running the carnival games and operating the rides.
But I serve chili-cheese-dogs in an old-timey train caboose – the ONLY air-conditioned spot in the entire amusement park!
The teen boys who work here are always hanging around my caboose – (the TRAIN caboose – git yer mind outta the gutter!) – and I’m fairly certain their constant presence is a testament to my charming personality – OR the air-conditioning. Whatevs. Potato Po-tah-to.
Anyway, I’m happily singing along to my car radio as I turn the corner and pull up outside my house. I park on the street, wave to my Dad in the backyard, then stroll up the sidewalk to our front door.
I’m halfway there when I hear a man’s voice behind me say, “Excuse me.”
Someone must need directions. I turn around, saying, “Yes, can I help y—”
There is a cop. Standing in front of his cop car.
This cop needs directions from me? That’s weird. It’s usually the other way around.
“Do you know why I’m here?” he asks.
Oh dear, this cop is having a really bad day. He doesn’t know where he is or what he’s doing.
“No,” I say gently, wondering how I can contact his sergeant to return him safely to the precinct.
“I’m here because you blew through two stop signs right in front of me.”
Oh, I see.
Suddenly the whole picture becomes painfully clear to me.
“Well, I’m not sure I’d say “blew” through them, maybe I “stop-rolled” through them?”
His expression indicates he’s not interested in parsing semantics with me.
“I can’t believe you ran a second stop sign right in front of me while I was following you for the first one. Didn’t you see me in your rear-view mirror?” he asks, pulling out his ticket book.
I furrow my brow. Does he mean the make-up mirror? That thing in the middle of the windshield I use to apply thick coats of Maybelline mascara?
“Well, why didn’t you have your sirens on?” I ask. “I would’ve noticed you then.”
He looks flummoxed, like he can’t believe I’m trying to turn this around on him being at fault.
Just then my mom comes tearing out of the front door.
“Oh my God, Darcy! What have you done now?”
(What have I done “now?” Good God, she makes it sound like I’m a regular juvenile delinquent!)
I say ruefully, “Narcotics again, Mom.”
Mom is NOT amused.
“DARCY! Don’t you dare joke about this, young lady!”
She turns to the cop and says, “What did she do?”
He says, “She failed to come to a complete stop so I – wait, is that you, Meredith? It’s me, Tommy – Tommy Renaldi.”
She takes a couple steps closer and recognizes the young cop. Mom works as Deputy Clerk of Court so she knows most of the cops who come in and out of the courthouse.
“Oh, hey Tommy. I mean, Officer Renaldi,” she says quickly, trying to highlight his authority for my sake.
“Meredith, I didn’t know this was your daughter.” He closes his ticket book. “No need for a citation. I’ll just let it go with a warn—”
“No!” she says vehemently. “No daughter of mine’s getting a free pass just because I work at the courthouse! She commits a crime, she pays the consequences! You throw the book at her!”
“Aww, Mommmm,” I say plaintively.
“Aww, Mommmm,” the cop echoes in solidarity. He grins at her optimistically.
She shoots us both a look that smacks the smiles right off our faces and the hope out of our hearts.
She points a finger at me and says, “When you’re finished here, come inside for a ‘talk.’”
And with that, she spins on her heel and strides back into the house.
The cop looks at me with sympathy – and a fearful shudder.
“Oh, man,” he says, “That’s gonna be some talk.” He writes in his book. “Here, I’m just gonna cite you for the one stop sign – so at least it’s $50 instead of $100.”
I’m appreciative – but dammit, do you know how many chili-cheese-dogs I gotta sell to clear $50 bucks?
I mumble “thank you” as I mournfully take the ticket.
As I trudge back up the sidewalk to my front door, I can only imagine him thinking, “Dead Man Walking…”
Note 1 – MY MOM:
First, I need to tell you that my Mom is actually one of the warmest, funniest, most compassionate people you’ll ever meet. Quick to offer a lending hand, a sympathetic ear, a strong shoulder to lean on – she is literally my role model for motherhood! But damnation, if you try to slide something by that woman — and she thinks you need to learn your lesson – well, by God, you.will.learn.that.lesson! Another reason she’s a great Mom!
Note 2 – MY DAD:
Second, I find it absolutely hilarious that my Dad simply waved at me from the backyard. I mean, his teenage daughter pulls up, followed by a cop car, but he just waves and goes about his business! To be fair, he was working on the “Yellow Cracker Box.” This was our affectionate name for the bizarre box-shaped yellow rehabilitation vehicle he bought used, then retrofitted it to include a table, bathroom, and pull-out beds so our family of 7 could go on camping trips and road trips all across the South. He was quite fond of that Yellow Cracker Box, so he may have been distracted by whatever he was tinkering with or fixing.
I like to think he just assumed, “Oh, that Darcy’s a clever one – if the cops are after her, I’m sure she’ll figure a way out of it.” Of course, more than likely, he probably just figured my Mom’s “Spidey Sense” would alert her that one of the 5 kids was in legal trouble – and that she’d rush to ensure the kid was prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Note 3 – MY NEXT COP:
Fortunately my next summer job provided me with a hilarious way to get out of speeding tickets as this true tale will attest: Funniest Way to Get Out of a Ticket.
Note 4 – MY NEXT CRIME:
Recently my Book Club read The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty (great book BTW) about a wife’s dilemma when she learns her loving husband of about 15 years and terrific father to her kids actually secretly killed a girl when he was a teen. Should she turn him in or not?
When I asked my Book Club friends if they’d turn in their husbands in a similar situation, most said they’d keep the secret! But you can clearly see that if I pulled something like that, my MOM would not only CALL THE COPS on me — she’d swab my DNA, track down the buried body, and gather all the damning evidence into a compelling PowerPoint for the judge and jury!
Note to self: do NOT invite Mom to help dispose of any bodies. My Dad, on the other hand, would’ve pulled up in the Yellow Cracker Box, tossed the body inside, and headed to the desert with a shovel. Which kind of parent are YOU?
— Darcy Perdu
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(How would your parents react if you showed up at your house with the cops? What would you do if it were YOUR teen – let the cop issue a warning – or insist on a ticket? Any funny cop stories?)