First of all, you gotta understand, it wasn’t my fault.
If it was anyone’s it was probably the hillbilly. Or maybe the nameless, bitter, worn down by life, jaded, bureaucratic, pencil pushing mope who’d been given a sliver of power and didn’t give one shit for anyone except his ownself.
Okay, I’m on duty and I get the call to go to Chicago to pick up a prisoner. Guy’s sitting in the Cook County Jail, one of the largest jails in the country (with better than 13,000 prisoners) and the single largest mental facility in the country. I kinda dig doing transports, so I pony up and head out.
I drive pretty fast so I’m there quick. Navigate some hellacious highway construction, drive around this huge concrete nightmare that is the jail, get to the back gate, pull up in my MARKED squad car, wearing my UNIFORM, and head into the gate.
“‘S up?” the guy asks. He’s probably early 60s, obviously sliding into retirement. He’s at the end of his shift. He’s ready to go home.
“Here to pick one up.”
“Cool. Lemme see your ID and we’ll get going.”
Okay, like I said, it wasn’t my fault. A few weeks ago, the hillbilly dog ate my wallet. I got home and there were all kinds of little pieces of shredded black leather everywhere. Looked like snow…other than being coal black. Death snow, maybe.
Well, she didn’t eat my Sheriff’s Office ID nor my driver’s license, but she did eat the wallet and I just hadn’t gotten around to replacing it yet. So, consequently….
“You ain’t got no ID?”
“Well, you got no license?”
And I wasn’t sure, given the grammatic obscurity, what the correct answer was. So I said, “Uh…no license. But I have a credit card. Has my name on it. Name matches my namebadge on my UNIFORM.” And then, helpfully, I pointed to the MARKED squad car.
“Don’t care about none’a that,” he said. “We got policy.”
“I drove two hours.”
“And we got policy. You cain’t have him.”
“I look like I’m fucking with you?”
“Okay. Well, let’s try this. Is there a supervisor I can talk to? I mean, I’ve got a marked squad car and I’m in uniform. It’s pretty far for someone to go if they’re trying to break someone out of the jail, isn’t it? I mean, I have business cards and everything.”
“And we got policy.” But he dialed his captain. “He gonna say no.”
In fact, the captain said no. He didn’t even bother talking to me.
“What about the lieutenant?”
“He gonna say no.”
In fact, the lieutenant said no. He didn’t even bother talking to me.
Ditto. Ditto. Ditto.
That guy goes through his shift change and I go home…sans prisoner. On the heels of my attempt, my sergeant sends another deputy. He heads up, ID in hand, and comes back with the prisoner.
Here’s the rub: they never asked.
ID in hand, ready to show to anyone who might ask and they never did. Didn’t ask at the guard gate where I’d been, didn’t ask at the desk that sits as the penultimate point of control before stepping into the cell blocks, which is the ultimate point of control. No one EVER asked him for his damned ID.
It was a different shift, you see. And apparently, there is only so much common sense at the Cook County Jail, and it’s all on the overnight shift.
And I realize none of this would have happened if I’d had my ID. But like I said, that was my hillbilly dog’s fault. You can’t blame that on me…can you?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I bought a wallet.