Submit your own Busted Letter
My boyfriend, John and I decided on the spur of the moment, "Let’s take a ride to Canada." It was a Monday morning, I didn’t have to be in work till Wednesday afternoon. I had just turned 22 and he was 20. It was January 31, 1989. We bought an atlas, gassed up, brought we thought was enough money (never understanding the whole exchanging thing and took off on our adventure, never ever guessing what kind of a bad movie this adventure would turn into. And off we went.....
That first day was fine. We drove and jammed out to all of our which consisted of all that 80’s metal music, and occasionally scanned the radio to check out local stations. We were hearing lots of songs that later seemed to be an omen: Philadelphia Freedom (we live in Philly) and Comin’ to America (or whatever that Neil Diamond song’s called) right before we entered Canada.
As we stopped at the Customs Booth, it probably took about 2 minutes to get through into Canada. It was dark by the time we arrived. We ended up in Montreal. We checked in (with American cash not converted to Canadian currency) and hit the town. It seemed OK. The best time was when we ate before leaving at the American Rock Cafe, where the owner treated us very well and was fascinated with us simply because we were American and obviously, rock n’ roller types (We both had long hair, I had on an Army Shirt.)
Soon, we were headed back to the US. En route there, a Canadian police officer pulled us over. "Your tail light is out." He was nice about it and soon we were on our way. I was relieved, because I did have a small amount of marijuana on me (1.3 grams to be exact). To be on the safe side, I decided to stash it in my bra, along with the rolling papers.
Before long, we approached the border. The guard stopped us, and asked a few questions about our trip. He took one look at John, his hair in a ponytail, me with my Army shirt, and heard the Iron Maiden tape in the deck, and said, "Pull over". Rut-roh.
We pulled over, they had us step out of the car and asked more questions as they searched us while they tore the car apart. They found a pot seed! It was enough for them to take us to separate rooms for a strip search. I stripped down to my bra (I was still a naive 22) and then started crying as I handed them the pot and papers. As they brought us back to the same room, John and I both played it as if he didn’t know I had it on me (he didn’t smoke). Smart move, because they arrested me, handcuffed both of us to chairs until the State Police arrived. Then they explained the Zero Tolerance law to us.
Zero Tolerance, I learned too late meant, that it didn’t matter HOW much of anything illegal you had, if you had anything illegal (specifically drugs) they’d confiscate your car on the spot. "Get all of your belongings out of the car." "But, I’ve never heard of this! I’ve never even been arrested!" "Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law," explained the guard who was about my age. I was so scared, I asked for her permission to take my birth control pill. "Sure," she replied, nonplused. The most amazing thing people can’t believe is that this all took place in the American side, near Plattsburgh, NY.
A NY State police officer arrived to bring me to jail, since, big criminals my boyfriend and I were, we had a TOTAL of eight dollars, no credit cards and no checking account, we could not afford the $250 to bail me out. The police officer was kind, almost as if he did not really support what was happening, but he had to do his job. I kid you NOT, we went to the judge’s house, I remember sitting in his living room while we waited for him, and drove over to the station/jail. Once there, I felt like a specimen as the entire department peered at me eerily, and the female officer (who was so nice) had these lens in her glasses that magnified everything, and they told me in their hick accents, "You ain’t ever gonna git yer car back!" I was so sure I would.
They placed me in jail with 3 other women. One lady was in trouble for fraud, the other two, for murder. The one girl, younger than me, showed me all the news clippings of her story, as she explained she was being raped and it was self-defense. The other woman had a plate in her head, was bigger than my boyfriend and seemed to harass the other two who took it in stride. She didn’t bother me at all, but she did tell me, "You ain’t ever gettin yer car back."
Before long, John amazingly appeared to bail me out! John, carless, weighted down with ALL of our belongings from the car, was trying to figure out what the hell to do. He saw a guy with long hair and NJ tags on the car. "Yo," he called out the guy, until one of the guards said, "If you don’t shut up, I’m going to throw you into jail for a week!" John shut up, and had gotten in contact with my family who wired him enough money to bail me out, and for us to catch a train back home. But, the closest place to get money wired to him was 3 miles away at a truck stop. It was freezing, windy and snowing as he walked along the highway. At one point the poor guy was blown off the road by a huge truck! Finally he arrived and got the money.
Now if the following is not some sort of scam, I don’t know WHAT is (it could be a story in itself):
While waiting for a bus to bail me out, 2 police officers pulled up and questioned him. He told him he was waiting for a bus to Plattsburgh, approx. 10 miles away. "The last bus just left. (It was around 6 p.m.) The next one isn’t until morning, BUT, for $35, we can drive you there..." "Uh, no thank you, I’ll wait..." A suspicious John replied. Since he didn’t know what else to do, he was about to walk back to Customs. Then he heard, "Yo, dude!" It was the longed haired Jersey guy. When Jersey was pulled over, John made a comment to a guard about they seemed to single out guys with long hair. "That’s part of our criteria," the guard actually replied! When they stopped Jersey, they found a case of beer and a knife. Jersey had $232 on him. His fine was $200, they suspended his license in the state of NY, and two cops offered to drive him (3 miles) to the truck stop with his remaining $32, effectively stranding the poor guy! John said, "Dude! My license is legit, I just got money wired to me, let’s get the fuck outta here! Don’t worry about anything!" So as Jersey showed John the car controls, those 2 cops came back that earlier tried to scam John. "What’s going on here!?" the cops asked thinking they had Jersey. Not! John explained, "Here is my license, it’s valid, and I will be driving this car." The cops couldn’t do anything, so they left. "Let’s get the FUCK outta here!" John repeated.
They bailed me out, we drove all night and had some of the most intense conversation ever. When Jersey dropped us off, I was emotional all over, because we just went thru hell, and we were all able to help each other out of a bad jam! A bad movie, I like to say. A bonding experience indeed....
I never got my car back. I hired a lawyer, gave him a $1000 retainer fee, he didn’t do a whole lot other than write a couple letters and a deposition to the Customs judge. The customs judge would not give us the car back, they wanted $5,000 to return it! I said, fuck the car. I tried to put it behind me. It came to haunt me a year later when I purchased my house.
The bank sold the car for $4200, the difference being $6900 I still owed on the car AFTER the bank sold it! We were about to fight in court over THAT, but then bank finally said, "You know what? We are going to drop this matter. You always paid ahead off time, and this situation is just too unusual." They faxed me a letter absolving me of owing more...Always xerox copy important faxes because....
7 years later, a new bank took over the bank that had the car loan. They had NO record of my being cleared. They called me up at work, bringing the whole nightmare back to me. I immediately left work, went home, grabbed a xerox, because the original fax completely faded!! I drove right to the credit office, showed them the letter, they apologized and said they’d never bother me again.
So, did this all convince me to stop smoking pot? No. Fourteen years later, I still smoke pot. It has not tempted me to try anything else, and unlike my friends who prefer alcohol and make asses out of themselves, I am always in control of myself. They tried to punish me and ruin my life, but they never did offer me help or counseling. I tried to quit getting high right after that bust, but I was so upset over the nightmare I went through that I became suicidal. And ironically, the only thing that kept me calm and rational was getting high. I even proved it to my shrink, before partaking, I was suicidal and upset over losing my job and boyfriend in 2 weeks. I called him very upset, he told me to come in. I got high, went in and told him, "Now that you can see how calm I am as opposed to cursing and yelling, when you’re ready to do a study on "The Effects of Marijuana on the Manic Depressive Mind", let me know, I’d be happy to be your test subject.
These days, I may have to give it up for a while. I’m unemployed in a bad economy with less than a month of unemployment left. I had a great phone interview the other day, but upon checking their web page I discovered they do drug testing. I think High Times and NORML should put together an employment web site with a list of companies that either don’t screen or don’t discriminate against the responsible user.