What Would You Do?

Expect the Unexpected – Real Life Situations – What Would You Do?

In this series of blogs, I’m looking at real life events where a person has found themselves in an unexpected and untenable situation.  You may think that this kind of stuff could never happen to you, but think again.    


When the phone rang this morning at 0530 hours, I had no idea what my day was going to be like.  And while my day sucked, it was a whole lot better than the day the lady on the other end of the phone was having.  It was a call from an acquaintance who found herself in a pickle.  It made me wonder what I would do in that situation.  Let me tell you her story…


I am a single, middle-aged female, hit hard by the recession in the remote desert area of Southern California.  To keep from losing my home, I’ve started renting out one of the bedrooms to a gentleman in his late 60s.  At the beginning of this month, he failed to pay his rent.  Without that income, I can barely pay the mortgage, with nothing left over for food or gas.  After a week, I am becoming rather desperate, taking solace in a glass (or more) of wine.  When I approach him again, the renter becomes belligerent, telling me that he will not pay rent, and there’s nothing that I can do about it.  A verbal fight ensues, and I call the police.  The fight makes its way out onto my driveway as we wait for the police.  I admit, I am rather vocal, and it is late, about 11 pm on a Saturday night.  The police arrive, look over the situation, and arrest me for public intoxication.  I am thrown into the police car, and the officer refuses to allow me to get properly dressed (I’m in a ratty T-shirt and boxer shorts, my normal sleep attire), nor am I allowed to get my wallet or cell phone.


At 0500 hours on Sunday morning, I am told that I am free to go, but I cannot leave unless 1) someone picks me up; or 2) they will drop me off at a “neutral location,” whatever the hell that is.  I am at a jail facility 20 miles from home.  There’s a pay phone in the holding cell where I am to wait.  Did you know you can’t call Information collect?  It is early June, and I know that most of my friends are on vacation; unfortunately, the only phone number I know off the top of my head is a friend in Northern California – damn those cell phones, no one knows anyone’s phone numbers anymore.  I call my friend collect, but what is she going to do 400 miles away? 


Call a cab!  There’s the answer.  And she does.  Only problem is that there are only two cab companies that are willing to pick up people from the jail (gosh, I can’t imagine why), and they want cash up front.  One would normally take a credit card, but their system has been down for three days.  “Would you like to send a Money-gram?”  Uh, no. 


Now I’m without anyone who can pick me up, no cash on hand to pay for a cab.  They need me to leave, and will drop me off someplace, but not to my home.  I’m in my pajamas with no ID, no money, no credit cards, no cell phone.  I suppose I could try to hitchhike home, but in the desert heat, wearing my night clothes, I’m not sure what kind of ride I might attract.  What should I do?  What would you do?

10 thoughts on “What Would You Do?

  1. This is a heart stopper.
    I would refuse to leave the station. Do a sit-in on the front steps of the police station and they’ll probably throw you back in a cell. Demand to see the Chief of Police (or Sheriff), then insist on a public defender for legal assistance.
    Talk to the matron — they ‘ll know where a woman’s shelter might be (they would have tons of info). The police can drop you off there.
    Call the friend 400 miles away and ask her to get into her car and come and help you. She can be a good witness to future interchanges with the tenant who has taken over your home.
    Get a realtor. Even if you don’t sell your house, he/she will have plenty of legal info as to how to get rid of that miserable person in your home.
    Stay away from booze. At this point in your life it’ll only compound your problem.
    The tenant? Lock the bastard out the next time he leaves the house, Pack his clothes and set it on the curb. Go to a gym and get a couple of big-hearted nice, but big men to sit on the steps when he comes back. It might even work!

    • Great thoughts, Bette! If she hasn’t been officially charged (brought before a magistrate) nor read her rights, would she be able to get a public defender? Anyone know?

      Love the idea of a women’s shelter! I do believe the police would give her a ride there.

      I’m totally with you on the booze issue; I’ve been sniveling about it all morning, lol. “Big-hearted, nice but big men” Do these really exist?! j/k

      Thanks, Bette!

  2. I don’t know if I would accept a ride to a “Neutral Location” because I would feel safer staying on the grounds of the jail, a place that I could at least get water while I figured out my next move. Plus I would be embarrassed walking around in my Tigger slippers…
    I would hope that someone coming to the jail might be in a sympathetic mood and let me use their phone despite how I am dressed. Being left out in the searing heat would really scare me. I have to ask, if the police pick me up and take me to jail have they not just accepted responsibility for me? If something happens to me being 20 miles from home, where they took me from, are they not responsible for anything bad that happens to me?
    If as a result of their actions I am hurt or killed can they be sued?
    Just asking!

    • Ya know, Abby, that’s a damn good question. If they just left her at a bus station, which is what she thought was going to happen, she would have been royally #$%%$^%. She would definitely be a victim-in-waiting. I highly doubt that I would stop to pick up and give a ride to someone dressed like she was, nor do I think that most “normal” people would…that leaves the um…other-than-normals with whom I wouldn’t want to accept a ride (would you like some candy, little girl?).

  3. I love Bette’s ideas. I immediately thought of asking for a social worker or women’s shelter. I have to say I am a little surprised that cops would behave this way. Not allow her to get different clothing before they took her in? Is it possible that there was a bit more to the story than she described?

    • Hi Terry! I just talked with my friend (we’ll call her Sandy since she’s in the desert), and as the story goes, the roommate was in the house, making threats, so Sandy went outside to wait for the officers. She says that she was calm and respectful; but something we all know is that how we perceive our own actions and how others see them are often remarkably different, especially if there’s alcohol involved! I, too, was astounded that they didn’t let her change her clothes or get a wallet. I would love to see the police report!

      An interesting note… even though she was arrested and booked for public intoxication, they never took a breathalyzer or a blood test…

      Thanks for your suggestions of a shelter or social worker. Those hadn’t occurred to me. Great stuff for writing!

  4. Very strange circumstance there, Eileen. I hope your friend’s situation improves, because that just seems wrong.

    And yes, I agree with Terry . . . there must be more to the story than you’ve been told.

  5. Your friend needs to hire an attorney if for no other reason but to get the charges drop. Any good attorney should be able to accomplish this unless your friend has other charges for intoxication. State laws vary & you can be arrested on your own property for public intoxication only if said behavior can be seen by the public. They failed to obtain the evidence to prove intoxication which leaves only the verbal statement of the officer. I do know the police department here will arrest someone here with no concern as to attire (or lack there of) and will release the individual the following morning @ 4:30am, ride or no ride and they do not offer rides to anyone. You are on your own period. . .end of report!

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