In Which I Run Afoul of the Law for the Sake of Blogging | Ninja Poodles Local

Monday, January 1, 2007

In Which I Run Afoul of the Law for the Sake of Blogging

Posted By on Mon, Jan 1, 2007 at 7:06 PM

Hi!  Look, I can post again!  And comment!  You're all thrilled beyond belief!  Trust me, you're thrilled.  I'm glad we got that out of the way.  Now settle down, so I can tell you how I narrowly avoided a Homeland Security shakedown in the Jacksonville Wal-Mart parking lot.

Ever since starting this blog about a year and a half ago, I have been more and more compelled to document incidental things I run across, or that happen to me, in my day-to-day life.  Sometimes these things are interesting ONLY to me, but hey, it's my blog, right?  Anyway, more and more I find myself with a little digital camera in my purse or car almost all the time.  This allows for quick capture of things that I find interesting, odd, funny, outrageous, etc.   My husband, bless his heart, has even taken to snapping things that he thinks I would appreciate with his cell-phone camera and emailing them to me.

I have documented all manner of things in my life, including my coupon-derived grocery savings, my first astronomically high electric bill (they got even higher later), the horror of my abdominal surgery and recovery, the time the co-op beheaded a dozen of my beautiful ornamental trees, the trimming of my Christmas tree, INNUMERABLE pictures and stories of the escapades of my daughter, and even the process of pouring warm water through my head and out my nose cleansing my sinuses with a neti pot...and let's not forget my favorite fried pickles.  I take pictures of, and write about, my family.  My pets.  My church.  My friends.  Things in my yard.  Things in my house.  Things on my television.  Things I read.  Things around town.  Just...random things.  You get the idea.

Just a couple of recent examples, both captured on The Husband's cell-phone camera, would be the morning, just a couple weeks ago, when it was apparently unseasonably warm in Jacksonville:

And this very appealing food-product, which had us both reeling in the frozen-food aisle at the Cabot branch of Kroger:

And so it was that, on a pleasant enough overcast day the week before Christmas, I was leaving the Jacksonville Wal-Mart, just casually glancing around the parking lot on the way to my car, when I spotted this sticker on the rear window of a pickup truck.

That's "Hot & Nasty," if you can't make it out.  I'm desperately hoping that this is a slogan, if an ill-advised one, for...well, something.  Because if it isn't, then what is it?  A pickup (no pun intended) line?  Who responds to that?

Now, "Hot & Nasty" was not enough, in itself, to make me reach for a camera.  Besides, I didn't have a camera on me at the moment, though there was one in my car.  But as I walked on, I noticed that the vehicle next to that one was also sporting signage, as well as the one next to that, and so on, until and including my own vehicle.  For some unknown reason, this fascinated me, and I decided I needed to snap some pictures on the fly on my way out.  So I circled around to that aisle, began with "Hot & Nasty," and just snapped a shot out through my rolled down passenger window as I coasted on out of the lot, which explains some of the blurriness of the photos here.  I was holding the camera up high, and the auto-flash was engaged.

The photos which follow honestly depict every vehicle on the same aisle as mine, one after another, ending with my own.

This being Jacksonville, there were, as you'd expect, many proud expressions of patriotism and support for our armed forces, including my own little "peace dove" magnets, one of which is pictured last here:

(The Peace Dove magnet is apparently no longer available, but there are other incarnations of this sentiment around the internet.)

The owner of this car has plenty of love to go around, and I like him or her already:

Some other things we love, judging by the adhesive-backed proclamations on our bumpers and rear windows:

Bass fishing.

Deer hunting, and...well, either baring one's buttocks or partaking of homemade pure grain alcohol, or both.  Probably not in that order.

Nascar.  (And another vote for deer-hunting.)

Some of the stickers had me wondering, "Why?"

While others had me wondering, "What...??"

I mean, what is this symbol?  It's almost like the Swiss cross, but with a confederate flag built in?  I'd never seen that before.

As opposed to wrong?  And if so, about what?  Or does it mean I'd better be in the slow lane so that this person can pass on the left?  Or I'd better be politically conservative?   Or I'd better not be left-brained?  Left-handed?  What?

There were two things that were so universally represented that I only photographed them once each.  If I let you, you'd probably guess, but I will tell you that they're both represented in one form or another on my own vehicle:

And yes, I DO believe in evolution, and no, science does not threaten my faith.  Just getting that out of the way.  I do sometimes wonder if the presence of my Christian fish acts as a sort of talisman against those who might get irritated at my peace-dove (and there are definitely people who interpret a desire for peace as a disrespect of our troops, which could not be further from the truth).  I have to admit to being somewhat surprised, when I first put them on, that the doves never got stolen or defaced for not expressing a pure "go the distance"-type sentiment.  Yaaay, Arkansas!  Speaking of which, the Hogs, they were EVERYWHERE.  Including on my own front bumper and trailer-hitch.

So there you have the fairly unremarkable "One Parking Aisle at Wal-Mart" photo series.  The whole thing took less than one minute on my way out, and that was the end of that, and I went merrily on my way, across the interstate to Sonic for a big, fat soon-to-be-denied-by-my-own-New-Year's-Resolution Cherry Coke.


As I pulled out of the Sonic parking lot, a Jacksonville police patrol car came up behind me, and turned on its flashers, giving one good "whooop" of its siren.  I wasn't doing anything wrong, and my tags and taillights were all in order, so I just assumed that the officer was needing to get around me and through the intersection.  I noticed another patrol car waiting in the left-turn lane ahead, so I scooted on up to the red light as quickly as I could, to allow the officer behind me clearance to get around me to the left.  I even waved and smiled politely at him in my side-mirror.


He did not go around, but pulled right up on my rear bumper, and gave another short, "whoop" blast of his siren.  He wanted ME.  What?  What the?!?  I have received exactly one traffic violation in my life, for speeding, and that was 22 years ago.  When I learn a lesson, I learn it good.  The nearest place I could get out of traffic was the Lowe's parking lot, so that's where I headed.  The officer followed me, and he was followed by the officer I'd observed in the left-turn lane back at the intersection.  I rolled my window down, not at all worried, but curious as all get-out about what on earth the po-pos could possibly want with ME.

The officers, both of them, could NOT have been more pleasant, and in fact did not stop smiling and laughing throughout the entire incident.  This is part of the reason that I felt so at ease despite being pulled over, the other parts being that I have a pretty great fondness and respect for the Jacksonville Police Department--they do a great job, and if the low crime rate in Jacksonville doesn't convince you of that, then just drop into town on one of the air-show days at the Little Rock Air Force Base, which event would seem to me a major deterrent to any applicant to the JPD--and the other part being that I hadn't broken any laws.

It seems that, as the first officer explained to my surprise, some upstanding citizen who'd been in the Wal-Mart parking lot at the same time I was, had PHONED IN A COMPLAINT of a "suspicious person taking pictures of license plates" in the lot. Hee.  This made me nearly gleeful, although I did feel bad that I'd worried some poor paranoid person to the extent that they called the POLICE.  I smilingly offered up my digital camera, without being asked, and showed him the pictures I'd taken in the parking lot.  Explaining "why" was a bit tougher, but he accepted my explanation with good-natured aplomb and a warm-sounding laugh, while the other officer informed me of how "hinky" people were acting "these days." 

I complimented the officers on the rapidity of my apprehension (seriously, it was, perhaps, 5 minutes' time between my leaving the parking lot and pulling out of the Sonic drive-thru), we all had a good laugh, and we went our separate ways.

I drove on home, suddenly even more mindful of speed limits and traffic signals, and began to wonder about the person who "reported" me.  Let's suppose, for just a minute, that I WAS "photographing license plates."  (And for the record, let me just say that I was very careful about eliminating overtly identifying information from these pictures, just out of common courtesy.)  What of it?  I mean, you drive around all the time with your license plate on public display, in plain sight.  Isn't that rather the POINT of a license plate?  What would be the particular threat of someone "photographing" plates?  Really, I'm looking for theories, here.  I could just as easily have taken the pictures with my cell-phone camera, to avoid detection, or I could have been driving around town all day writing down license-plate numbers.  Couldn't anyone?

Ah, well.  I guess I'll never know.  In any case, if you were unnerved by the sight of a 40-ish mom in a white Tahoe snapping pictures through her passenger window at Wal-Mart...well, fear not.  Here they are.  Also, I apologize for giving you reason to fear (and would LOVE to know just what scared you).  And thank you for not taking it a step further and alerting Homeland Security.  I'm not sure what kind of internet access they have at Gitmo.


I'm glad to be back.


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