May 26, 2011

Popo vs Tuckerbag: Round 3

My tame but annoying run-ins with the law have become frequent enough that they deserve mention, but eventually not their own post.

4am, Thursday morning, a knock on the window and I pull the shades aside to find my first (and probably the town’s only) female cop. I think when people knock they are expecting a dirty, middle aged man with a big beard and two teeth. They often look surprised to see a frazzled looking blond.

Copper: “What are you doing out here?”
Me: “Sleeping”
Copper: “How long have you been living in your car?”
Me: “About a month”
Copper: “Can I see your license so I can run it for warrants?”

At this point I’m totally perturbed, rummaging around in the backpack for my wallet and trying not to glare. When she calls in my plate number I can hear the switchboard lady saying “I’ve already run that plate twice, she’s fine.”

Copper: “I haven’t had any complaints about you so I’ll let you sleep here the rest of the night, but technically camping on university grounds is illegal.”
Me: “um, before I got my permit I checked with the town police, parking services, and physical plant, just to make sure I wasn’t breaking any rules. None of them had any reason why I couldn’t stay here”
Copper: “Well, you have a permit, so that’s why I say ‘technically’”

I don’t think I hid my blank stare very well. Is that like saying “technically you’re not allowed to drive, but you have a license, so it’s ok”? Between the birds and my temper, it took me an hour to fall back to sleep.

The situation is annoying but I refuse to move, I’m not breaking any rules! There are a finite number of cops working in this town and maybe I just need to wait it out until I’ve met each of them at four in the morning. I feel like putting a sign on the back window saying “Here’s my license number, run it without waking me up. If you have to wake me up, bring coffee”


  1. I think they found someone to pick on. Jerks.
    “What are you doing out here?”
    Ugh.. how frustrating. I hope you stop getting harassed.

  2. Whatever you do, never never call a female cop "Officer Wigglebottoms". It doesn't end well, I'm just saying.

  3. You know, Steve, the next time I see her that's going to slip out...

  4. "Here’s my license number, run it without waking me up."........I was thinking the same thing the whole time reading this post.

  5. I agree, they've found someone to pick on. Basically, the first cop told another, who just had to check it out, and it continues on and on. Sadly, the whole "Technically" garbage is her trying to push her weight around, and make you scared to make her feel like she is the boss. I see it here as well, female cops are usually the ones that are jerks, while male cops are professional. It's the whole, "I'm a woman in a man's world so I need to prove I'm tough" mentality, when in fact, no one cares.

    "Here’s my license number, run it without waking me up." made me laugh! You should do it, but they'd still wake you up anyways. It's what they do.

  6. They're bored. You could always leave a donut with the note.

    Cyndi & Stumpy @ RVly Ever After

  7. Cops automatically fish for fugitives whenever they see people living in vehicles. And while it's sad that people must resort to living in their cars, the laws are still against this otherwise people will start setting up camp on the streets, etc. that will later turn into a makeshift shanty towns and destroy property value. Homeowners & businesses will get screwed. Many neighborhoods don't even allow someone to park their RV nor boat in front of their own house. It's an eyesore having to look at someone's boat & RV 24/7/365. Now imagine looking at a slew of them if people were legally able to live & park anywhere. If your college put it in writing that it's ok, they'll open themselves up to some serious legal issues. Seems like the trick here is to be as stealthy as possible. The big, blue tarp on your roof is not a good idea IMO. The missing hubcap(s) is another. Maybe you should take them all off or find a replacement at a junkyard.

  8. MK4,

    I hear you; you’re absolutely right that people don’t want to see a car parked outside their homes in suburbia and because of that it does have the potential to bring down property values. Were it up to most of us, we would have streamline RVs or even just hubcaps. The point is that we’re not criminals and we shouldn’t all be viewed as suspect by the police and thereby fair game for hassling. It’s not just car dwellers who are pushed out of town because we are considered eye sores. The homeless and people in low income or poorly kept housing face the same persecution. I am here through both necessity and choice, however many are not and when we see a person sleeping in their car our first thought should be whether they need help, not how much our property could depreciate. If there are so many homeless in one area that they could potentially create a "shanty town" then there is a very serious problem, and the solution is not to pass laws banning them so that they move on to another town. We each have our reasons but we’re all just trying to live, though some go about it differently than the majority of people do.

  9. Well what you're saying is nice but i doesn't happen in real life. My point was that cops will usually always check for warrants on someone living in a car b/c in general, many people in flight lives in their cars. This is how cops proactively patrol for criminals, just like how they pull people over for a broken license plate they can fish for other things and not just wait for Huggy Bear to tip them off like on TV.

    Obviously there's not enough support for the homeless, especially in this economy. But should the homeless be freely allowed to drag everyone else down with them by wrecking property value, businesses, tourism, etc.? Many people with a mortgage and/or business are already hanging by a THREAD and not far away from losing their their homes, etc. It's easy for you to say don't worry about property value nor obstructions to businesses, b/c it's not yours that's affected.

    And what I meant about your missing hubcaps is that your car, in general, looks like crap. People who have lived in vehicles for 5-10 years straight will tell you that being stealthy is best, which include looking presentable and not an eyesore. Missing hubcaps, a giant blue tarp on a red car, white curtain shades....and you wonder why cops & security guards notice you? Do you dress like a homeless person, not bathing, etc. when you go to class? Well your car is.

    Can you change all the laws of New Hampshire to help the homeless by next week? Or can you at least buy matching hubcaps and clean up your car better. Probably too late now since the cops already know about you, but maybe it will still help by deterring the general public from calling them b/c they're sick of seeing your messy car. You can buy 4 new hubcaps for like $15-20. Car polish is only like $5.

  10. MK4, I feel like you might need a hug

  11. MK4 probably needs to stop reading this blog. He seems personally offended by it.

  12. They should bring you coffee and a donut. That is what a town cop should do--be friendly.

  13. MK4 i totally disagree with you. I would much rather own a home where people were not harassed by the cops for living. This is why I don't understand the whole concept of property value: different people like different thihngs. It seems like the whole notion is just an excuse for people to force their notions of what a normal life is on every one else.


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