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What I Read in the Waiting Room of Hell

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From the Tongues of Angels

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June 10, 2005

Comments

Diane

I wouldn't call it an indignity unless you are really fond of understatement. Many years ago, my partner and I were at a large public event. He was a news reporter, covering it. Some drunken policemen took his tape recorder from him and mocked him. I wasn't all quiet and submissive, so we were both arrested. He was taken to jail, but I was taken on a march through the streets, repeatedly insulted, and offered up for sale to men of color.

I learned later than the chief instigator of this circus had already killed several people off-duty with a sawed-off shotgun, so I was afraid to go after him. We did go to the Chief of Police, who blamed me (he had a stroke the next day, too). The police offered us a deal: We'll throw out the arrests if you agree not to sue us. I refused to make the deal, even though I was too afraid of the aforementioned man to sue them.

I got my arrest thrown out, anyway, using my own power, and my partner (who was mad at me for not making the deal) and I broke up soon after that. It was going to happen anyway, but this incident helped it along.

The Heretik

That is a tough tale, Diane. We learn about ourselves when what matters most is also what those closest to us would have us walk away from, to give in, and let it go. At such moments, each of us is asked for our courage. You showed yours. Thanks.

Kate S.

I got roughed up once by a young officer who thought I was a drug dealer because I left a concert early (my girlfriend was going into labor and I was to meet the family at the hospital.) He made fun of my outfit, fun of my car, fun of my choice in music, he made me stand out on the windy road for an hour doing field sobriety tests, without a coat (winters in San Diego can be chilly by the water,) I was sick and on antibiotics, which made me dizzy, so he handcuffed me and took me in.

Before I got there, I had taken one of my hands out of the cuffs because my arms felt like they were breaking. It's hard to sit like that, with your arms behind you. He got so angry he grabbed my free arm in a vice grip, hit me on the cheek with his other hand, and threw me up against the wall, cracking my head against the concrete. He told all the other cops I was a hooker and did they want to have fun with me, later?

After my breath test turned out negative for alcohol, he got really mad. He told me I had to walk back the several miles to my car. So I told him I knew a detective from the old days, way back when I was a dancer and he was just a beat cop, looking out for "us girls." But now the detective was powerful.

The angry, young officer then took me back to my car and asked that none of this be relayed back to the detective because he wanted out of the force, without any black marks on his service record. Why? He was a black man in a very racist police force. He couldn't take it anymore. I knew it was racist and I felt for him, but I said: "Did treating me like a whore make you feel a little better? Okay, then ... g'night. And Good Luck. You're going to need it. You might think about getting a little counseling."

I took a joint out of my boot and left it under his seat. A souvenir, from the drug dealin' Happy Hooker.

THE END

The Heretik

Kate, that really is quite another tale, but it is not the end , not at all. You came out of that with your dignity and a strong voice. Thanks.

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