On Almost Being Arrested, and other things to do on Wednesday night


Downtown Houston

As if nothing else in the world was happening at the Nolen household.

Today the house framers were hard at work on the garage apartment in the back yard. They completed the second floor. The roof was framed. I got an almost frantic call from the contractor. The engineer had called him and told him that on re-calculating the plans he discovered a mistake. This is after everything has been inspected and passed. He had a fit of conscious of something. He explained that they should use two by eight boards for the ceiling on the second floor instead of the two by six.

The contractor told me, no, insisted to me that it was their mistake and I wasn’t to be concerned. But they were going to have a slight delay with taking part of the framing down. I asked what the difference in price for the materials was and I insisted on paying for that.

After all, the house plans had passed city inspection on all counts. And they were willing to stop construction, deconstruct and start over again on their dime. That is integrity.

The air conditioning man showed up around this time. Our air conditioner worked part of the time and the furnace worked part of the time. We’d been spending a lot of time and money having parts and pieces fixed. With a lot of pounding and grating the air conditioner man removed the old electric furnace and air conditioner from our downstairs utility room.

The grand baby slept through it all.

At one point I heard some yelling and high-pitched man-screams and went outside to investigate. The air conditioning man had been under the house (we are on pier and beam so there is a crawl space beneath us for easy access to pipes), he was wiping his brow. His shirt was muddy. All work on the garage apartment in the back yard was suspended as the guys crowded around. Apparently from what I could understand Victor thought there was a bear, or a monkey, or a chupacabra under the house. It had frightened him. He couldn’t get out from under fast enough.

I calmed them all down and told them that my cats were serious hunters of dangerous under-the-house creatures.

Turns out when the other guys used flash lights and investigated, it was our Siamese cat (they called her the “kitty-kitty”). Of course Peanut can look like a bear, or a monkey, or a chupacabra, depending on her mood.

The process of removing and replacing the old rotten air condition and furnace took all day. He and his two workers stayed late, finally leaving after dark. The only thing left undone was hooking everything up.

Immediately, I mean minutes after they left, my daughter said, “Oh look! The police have pulled someone over right in front of our house.”

I looked and it was our air conditioning man. I thought perhaps he had run the stop sign. But while I watched the situation didn’t LOOK like a simple traffic stop.

There must be some mistake.

I went outside and stood inside the fence. I called out to the air conditioning man, “Victor, is everything all right?”

A policeman on the other side of the car (I didn’t see him before this) came around the car and yelled at me that I was interfering with a police investigation. Yelled at me.

What? I stood there, shaking my head. “These guys were just at my house. Did they run the stop sign?”

“No ma’am.” The officer approached me. “You need to leave this alone. It is none of your business.”

“I’m just asking if they are okay.”

“No you were NOT! You are interfering! You need to get back! You are making this a dangerous situation! This vehicle came up as a suspicious vehicle. It has nothing to do with a stop sign. You are being disrespectful.” He was angry. Incensed even.

Disrespectful? I felt like reminding him that he was the one standing in the middle of a busy street. Dangerous situation indeed.

I turned around and went in the house and got a piece of paper and came back out and took the plate number of the police car. (from a respectful distance) I then went and stood far enough away but near enough that the officer could see me. I caught his eye and smiled at him. (How’s that for respect?) I asked him what his name was.

He called to me, that I was to come across the street to him and talk to him. (Now, this is always a safe move in a traffic stop of a suspicious vehicle where the suspicious vehicle’s occupants could be killers escaping from the long arm of the law.) I joined him and he told me that he and his partner felt the occupants of the vehicle were suspicious characters who could have guns and that my interference was clearly wrong and I could be killed.

These guys just spent the entire day in the mud under my house fighting chupacabras why would they shoot me?

I stared through the front windshield of their van. Our a/c man had already been hand-cuffed and put in the police car. The other two guys looked frightened and defeated.

I want you to know that I did apologize for interfering with what the officers were doing. Normally, I would never get involved with a traffic stop in my neighborhood. I’ve seen officers pull a car over and draw guns just like you see on “Cops”. I live a mile from downtown Houston. It’s more of a “duck and run” kind of area than an area where you would pop over to the officer and say “hey, what’s going on?” during a traffic stop. But I had just bid these guys a good evening. I felt like defending them.

Thankfully the officer and I parted on speaking terms. He apologized for getting angry at me. He gave me his card so that I can call him if I see crack smokers or miscreants hanging about.

This is good.

Sometimes it’s hard getting through on the non-emergency line to report misdeeders. The last time I tried the woman kept asking me to “back up and repeat my description of the guys”. By the time I’d finished my descriptions so that she could get it down, the bad guys were long gone, and I’m talking about fifteen minutes of backing up and repeating, honey. Two police cars passed by during that time and she wouldn’t let me get a word in without backing up and repeating it several times.

Here is a side note: The “suspicious vehicle” thing couldn’t have happened quite the way they explained it.

First, they pulled them over as soon as the van pulled away from the curb beside our house. They couldn’t have run plates in that amount of time. Which means they had to have spotted the vehicle before this and run the plates. Second, the vehicle was not the problem. Turns out our a/c man had a warrant for his arrest. Before you get all excited about that – it only means that he missed a court date. Third, if the vehicle had been a problem they would have taken it and they didn’t. They asked our permission to leave it on the curb beside our house so that one of the guy’s wives could come drive it home.

And Fourth, (only because one must have a “fourth” if there is a “third”) I’m without an air-conditioner and furnace downstairs at the moment so excuse me while I go pile on some blankets and enjoy the Wednesday night line-up on television.

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