I’ve found myself in many uncomfortable situations over the course of my twenty-seven years. In Jr High, trying to hide my erection when Mrs Monson made me go up to the front of the class to multiply some fractions. Accidently calling and asking Shasta (an ex hook-up) how to get to her house when i was trying to call Shana’s house (my current fling). Damn cell phone contact list! And just generally any situation with a girl all throughout high school. But none of these compare to spending a night on cold concrete in a 10×15 ft cell with 15 scary mexicans behind bars.
Anyone who has a DUI also has their sob story of how they got it. I got pulled over in a parking lot because my windows were tinted. Bullshit. I was however over the legal limit and therefore subject to arrest. It’s a unique feeling going from such a high to such a low in such a short time. Here I was, having a ball at Brian’s apartment with, among others my girlfriend and most of my best friends. Not wanting to sleep on Brian’s floor we were making a short drive to meet up with more friends closer to home to continue our alcoholic consumption. My heart then sank when i saw the red and blue flashing lights. You know that feeling you get when you look in your rearview mirror and see a cop behind you? Imagine seeing that, lights flashing, when you know you’ve had too much to drink. In all honesty I really hadn’t drank all that much, but the fact that I had been sipping on a beer while driving so it was fresh on my breath probably wasn’t the best idea. I remember saying out loud to my friends in the truck with me “I’m getting a DUI.” And so it began. Walking in a straight line, touching the tips of your fingers to your nose, reciting the alphabet backwards (which is pretty tough even sober i must say, let alone after a few drinks), and standing on one foot. I actually thought I did pretty well, almost to the point where I thought I might be able to charm my way out of this. I was very polite, even trying to initiate a conversation about baseball with the officers. But once the breathilizer was brought out, I knew I was done. The handcuffs were put on, I was thrown in the backseat, and we were off to jail. On the way I realized that I REALLY had to pee. I asked the officer if we could stop somewhere so I could go. “We’re almost there” he replied. “I’ll drive as fast as i can.” Even as pissed as I was at this policeman who had just arrested me, I felt a little bit better when I could feel the car accelerate slightly. When we did arrive at the local station he led me to the restroom and let me out of my cuffs. I nervously pissed for what seemed like 5 minutes. “Man, you did really have to go huh?” I was then taken to another room where they took my fingerprints and mugshots, from the front and the side just like in the movies. I was never able to see them though, I’m curious if my mugshots could contend with some of the horrific celebrity ones you see on TV. I was given my one phone call. I called my friend James, who was sitting shotgun when I was arrested, but no answer. I was then put into a small cell alone where I layed for about half an hour. An officer then came and told me I was going to be taken somewhere else for the night. From what I had heard, mostly from friends who had received DUI’s before, you were usually let out within a few hours of your arrest. Once you were sobered up you could go. Seeing as that I was barely over the legal limit, I was sure this would also be the case for me. But when I was again put in handcuffs, this time attached by chains to two other men, and led to a van with plastic seats and holes near your lower back so that your cuffed hands could fit, I knew it was going to be a long night.
We were taken to the Ventura County Jail. It was probably about 3 a.m. and I must admit I wasn’t feeling very brave at this point. The officers led us down the hallways until we reached our cell. It was fairly small and rectangular shaped, about 8 ft by 15 ft with a toilet in the back. I surveyed the room. It smelled awful and was filled with men, about 15 other guys were already in there. Shoulder to shoulder, either sitting on the bench that ran along one wall, leaning against the other wall, or laying on the floor. Some of the guys were asleep, some were talking amongst themselves in spanish. One very elderly very inebriated gentleman talked to himself. Most were hispanic though, most older than me and most much, much bigger than me. I found a small space on the cold concrete floor and sat down. Realizing that I was probably going to be here for a while I tried to get some sleep. It’s hard to rest when youre laying in the fetal position on cold concrete, lights bright enough to be seen even with my eyes closed, surrounded by drunk, high, and generally just no good guys. I cursed myself for getting into this situation. All because i didn’t want to sleep on Brian’s floor. How ironic. Despite all my rage, I did manage to pass out in my cage.
I woke up at about 8 a.m. I think. Not really knowing what to do, I flagged down an officer who passed the cell. “Sir? Aren’t I able to make a phone call?” “You had your phone call!” was his response as he kept walking. So I sat back down and waited. It is a terrible feeling to be sitting in jail not having any idea whats going on. I wasn’t able to get a hold of my friends with my one phone call the night before. My parents didn’t know where I was. Even if they let me out, then what? As I sat pondering my fate, a guard opened the door. “Alright! Everybody line up! Follow me!” We were taken out of the cell and led down some hallways. Eventually we reached what looked kind of like a locker room, complete with showers. “Everybody strip!” Are you kidding me? At this point we were all still wearing our street clothes.I nervously started to undress, looking around to make sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong. An officer came down the line collecting everybody’s clothing and putting them in a black hefty bag. There were 3 showerheads for the 14-18 inmates. Here I was, completely naked, standing in single file with fifteen other men. My mind raced. How the hell did I get to this point? Do I look like a wuss if I try to cover myself? Why are all these guys uncircumsized? Is that normal in spanish culture? I took a short shower and quickly dried off, actually feeling a little bit better about myself. We were now given the standard jail fashion. Orange jumpsuit and navy blue slip on shoes. Then we were off to a new cell. Still fifteen guys, who i still hadn’t said a word to. At this point i was in somewhat of a panic. Showered and in my new jail wear, they seemed to be settling me in. Am I ever going to get out of here?? Now if this were a situation where I was told, “Hey Dustin, you have to spend a couple days in jail.” Fine, I could deal with that. But here I was, locked in a cell for about 9 hours after being arrested with no idea how long I would be here or what I could do. I tried to stomach a small breakfast of spaghetti, coleslaw, green jello and red fruit drink. One hour passed…I tried to sing songs to myself to pass the time. Two hours passed…I tried to conversate using the little spanish I knew, but to no avail. Three hours pass… An officer appears, “Helvig!..Dustin!” “Thats me” i replied. I was taken to another cell where they gave me my clothes back. I did have to spend another hour or so in this cell but at this point I knew I was probably getting out soon. I was given back the contents of my pockets and signed out. By the time I was able to rejoin society it had been a full 12 hours I had spent in the Ventura County Jail. Possibly the longest 12 hours of my life. Many hours of work furlough and alcohol classes followed, along with thousands and thousands of my hard earned dollars. But I definitely learned my lesson, and I definitely don’t want to ever have to go back to jail again. Don’t drink and drive kids.