I’m afraid of cops. I have anxiety trips when a police car rolls by or an officer stands behind me at Starbucks.
Perhaps I look suspicious and give off that “arrest me” vibe? So, learning that I had to go down to the __ once a week to check crime reports for Patch wasn’t good times for me. I feared the cuffs – that and the discovery of my faux felony record that keeps popping up like a determined weed.
Let me explain.
A few years ago, I received a notice from the California Department of Social Services stating that I had a felony record and was suspended from my job at an elementary school. The letter was addressed to Lynda J. Rivers. I’m Lynda E. Rivers, you know, the one without so much as an unpaid parking ticket.
According to them, I had two social security numbers, two names, and a hefty criminal record. I had also missed my last parole meeting so there was a warrant out for my arrest. They further informed me that I had been convicted of a few burglaries and robberies in 1984.
I was 11 years old in 1984. Still, this seemed completely plausible to them.
Despite the Department of Justice providing Social Services with my real – clean – record, I was told that I hadn’t gotten this corrected information filed in a timely enough fashion, so my record was sealed, felonies and all. They also told me that they had informed the FBI of my location. I programmed a lawyer’s number into my cell phone.
So, walking into a sheriff’s station was not something I was psyched to do. What if they asked my name and ran it just for fun and then ended up having to book me? I imagined the headline: Patch Freelancer A Suspected Felon.
I was on edge just walking into CV Sheriff’s Station. Prior to my fake criminal record, I had only been in a station once, to report a crime. Now I didn’t know what to expect. I stood there, heart racing, waiting for the deputy to slide open the window, the Miranda mantra rattling around in my head.
Finally, a deputy asked for my name when I requested the crime reports. No sirens sounded. No one told me I had the right to remain silent.
“You work for Patch?” he asked congenially.
“Yes, sir.” I said, still a little nervous.
He introduced himself and handed me the reports. That was it. I sat down on the sofa, got a snack from the vending machine, and tried to relax.
Now, when I visit the CV Station, the deputies on duty ask how I’m doing. Many of them know my name. My real name. Being there and talking with them has eased my fear. A bit.
I’m still on edge when a deputy I don’t recognize slides open the counter window. I haven't deleted that lawyer's number from my phone but I do take a small comfort in knowing if I can’t afford an attorney, one will be provided for me – Lynda E. Rivers.