I need to write the fourth and final installment of my Jail Tale series (it’ll be the best one!) but an experience I had today also needs to be written up.
When I was finally released from jail I was happy, as you can imagine. To actually see the sky again! Mundane issues preoccupied me, though; I wanted my’ keys and cash. I got out at the same time as a reprobate druggie named Ray. He got his personal stuff and a check for the amount of cash he had in his pocket when he was arrested. My turn came and they gave me my checkbook and keys.
“Where’s my money?” I exclaimed. They took $25.00 in cash from me when I was booked.
“Oh, the book-keeper went home. Come back tomorrow.”
“It ain’t easy for me to get up here to Palmyra!”
“Well, that’s too bad.”
I was pissed off. They took my cash and wanted me to jump through hoops to get it back. A couple of days later I was talking with a man whose brother was interested in buying my albatross of a building, the place I lived in for four years. I hit him up for a ride to Palmyra to get my cash.
We got to the jail and the man dimly visible behind the mirrored glass told me “Sorry! The book-keeper had to leave early; her father’s been sick lately.”
I’m as empathetic (probably more so) than the next guy, but I must confess I didn’t really care about the book-keeper’s father.
In the weeks since then I’ve had a series of difficult phone calls with the jail administrator. Running the gauntlet of robot answerers isn’t fun for anyone. I requested that they mail me the check. This morning I called and was informed that they just couldn’t mail me a check.
I could have hit up a friend for a ride to Palmyra, but I would have felt obligated to put some gas in their vehicle’s tank, and it just irked me to think I would have to pay money to get what was owed to me.
This morning was another cool one, and after my last conversation with the jail administrator I decided to ride my bike up to Palmyra and get my money. If I waited much longer I was afraid that they would invoke some rule like “Sorry, Mr. Ayers — after thirty days we get to keep the money!” I wouldn’t put it past them.
I rode up Rt. 61 on this sunny but cool morning. The main annoyances were the passage of noisy semis and the long uphill grades, some of which were over a mile long. I had to dismount and walk up the last bit of a few of them. It was about eleven or twelve miles from my doorstep to the jail. I had to stop once to rest my legs and lungs.
It took me a little over an hour to get to the jail in Palmyra. I walked in and faced a mirrored-glass counter. I couldn’t see if anyone was in there.
“Anyone there? I’m here to get my money.”
A disembodied voice from behind the glass said:
“Please step over to the next counter, sir.”
I did, and slid my driver’s license and receipt under the glass.
I waited awhile and a man stepped through a door and gave me a check.
“Where’s my driver’s license?”
“You never gave it to me!” said the functionary.
“I slid it under the glass just now!”
My heart sank. When would this bureaucratic crap end?
I said “I slid it under the glass like the man told me to!”
The obscure figure said “Oh, maybe it fell under the desk.”
He got down on his hands and knees and groped under the desk.
“Oh, here it is!”
He gave me my license and I left quickly. I don’t like that place!
I cashed the check at the gas station next door and headed back to Hannibal. As always, a long round-trip bike ride always seems like it’s uphill both ways — you remember the long uphill grades, but the downhill slopes pass by so quickly that only a brief impression remains.
Several times while riding I was shadowed by a bird overhead squawking at me. I didn’t even bother to look up — I know the sound a red-winged blackbird makes when you intrude upon its nesting territory.
I must confess I had to walk the bike towards the end of a few of the long upwards grades. I figured it was a lesser expenditure of energy and wasn’t all that much slower. It was a relief to use a different set of muscles.
After riding twenty-two miles I was ready for a nap. I’m not accustomed to riding such distances, but I had the satisfaction of getting my money back!