A few years ago when I was living in Ontario, I volunteered for hospice.
Once a week I would go to the day center for people who were terminally ill. There would be volunteers offering energy treatments, massage, crafts and various other activities at the center to the ill visitors. On this particular day, I was on my way to the center with Eddie, an owl named Winston and my hawk, Daisy. I was going to do a flight demonstration outside for everyone at the center and give them an up close and personal experience with these majestic and beautiful creatures.
As I was driving the 15 minute route, a policeman pulled me over. I was not speeding, did not go through a stop sign and as far as I could tell, had done nothing wrong. After I pulled over, I waited for him to come to my window. It took him a long time and I was wondering if he was going to make me sit there all day guessing as to my infraction, when he finally came over and with a very smug look on his face and a slow, disdainful perusal of me, asked me if I knew why he had stopped me. I said “no, I do not” and he told me my sticker on my license plate was expiring that day. I told him I knew that and that I was going to get the new one that afternoon. With more bluster and bravado, he told me that he was not going to allow me to drive, I was going to have to get someone to come and get me. He asked me to wait and went back to his car.
After about 20 minutes, he came back and told me to get out of the car. He had a self satisfied look on his face that made a feeling of impending doom settle in my stomach. Feeling scared and somehow violated, he told me to come to his car. He put me in the back seat behind the cage, and started punching in stuff on his car computer. I sat there in the back for what seemed like forever and then he started asking me questions. Have I ever lived in Toronto in the High Park area? “Yes”. Was it during such and such a particular time frame, I can’t remember exactly, I answered “yes.” Had I taken drugs? “No.” There was lots of silent time and intimidation in between questions. I was getting really scared and wanted out of the car. Was he some fake cop? Some creepy, crazed kidnapper? What was going to happen to me? To Eddie and my other birds? What about my demonstration which I was now late for? I was now alternating between cold chills because I didn’t know what he was going to do and hot indignation because I knew I had done nothing wrong. Is this how innocent people ended up in jail? Oh God I was going to go to jail!!
Then the most unexpected question.
“Have you ever been or are you still prostituting yourself?” he asked me as if asking me how I take my tea.
He then told me that a woman with my exact name, age, height and description, except the eye colour was wrong, had an outstanding warrant for her arrest. Now I was completely freaking out and I could see Eddie in my car looking around. I kept focusing on him trying to calm myself down. The police officer kept on interrogating me with the same questions over and over again, telling me that I had better just fess up as we both knew the truth, because, as we both knew, eye colour could be changed with coloured contacts lenses. “Are you still prostituting?” he asked me. “If this was a violent crime I’d haul you in now and ask questions later. “HUH?”
I had been in the car for more than an hour and a half. This was getting ridiculous and now I was getting mad. I said “Wait until I tell my parents about my real job. The birds in my car are just a cover.”
He never once mentioned the fact that there was an eagle in my car visibly seen. He was on a mission. I wished I could sick Eddie on him.
After another long silent block of time, he told me that even though we both knew the truth, he was going to have to let me go, but I was not to drive. He gave me back my documents and let me out of the car. I went back to my car, the birds all calmly sitting in their crates and I told them “You won’t believe what just happened!”
I then waited until the police officer left and then I drove to the center to do my presentation. I was a couple of hours late, but everyone was still there. I got everything set up and then brought out Eddie. Everyone gasped in wonder, awe and delight. I then proceeded to tell them; “Let me tell you why I am late getting here. I just found out that I am apparently a prostitute practicing somewhere in the Toronto area.” Blank looks. I then told them what had happened and it turned into a huge laugh for everyone with many off coloured jokes being bandied about. At the end of the day it was all worth it to see the looks on their faces and to hear all of the laughs at my expense.
Even Eddie seemed amused.