We are heading down the street, and looking for the officer in question...and of course, we drive right by him and have to turn around and come back.
It's about 2:30 am, I think. Once we're there on scene, I go over to listen to what the officer is telling Mr W, so I'll know what's up before I start talking.
I was a little nervous. First of all, this is not someone I really feel like f**king up in front of, both for Mr W's sake, and my own sense of pride. Secondly, this man is drunk, how drunk I don't know, and well, you never know what you're gonna get with that, even without taking into consideration I'm gonna be telling him what to do in Spanish. Those Latin macho guys are not necessarily into that, a woman bossing them around, in any language.
Luckily, our guy is very cooperative, and good natured. I'm trying not to grimace at Mr W's "Senor" pronunciation. I follow him, and wait expectantly for what he wants me to tell him. His colleague had said that the guy didn't do well forming a seal on the breathalyzer machine, so I'm thinking about how to ask him to do that, just as Mr W is demonstrating the heel-toe walk, and I'm jumping in to describe what we want him to do in regards to walking--nine steps--turn--nine back. Hey, I can do this. (And not laugh at Mr W's demo...bonus!)
Mr W moves onto the rest of the field sobriety tests, and then we go back to the breathalyzer.
I'm making sense to the man, but I want to be sure that he understands so he'll do it right the first time.
Analogies are made, to blowing up balloons. I remind him to form a tight seal around the tube as he blows.
If you don't think it's surreal to be standing in a parking lot, telling someone to blow <into the machine> as your husband and his colleague are hollering at him "mas, mas, mas" I don't know what is. It was bizarre.
Ultimately, he was under arrest. He was borderline, but it was their call, and apparently, had been all over the road, so he was done for the night. The car had to be towed, and his passengers were stranded. They were to um, happy-drunk to care much. I told him, as we got to the command post and he said that next time when someone called him for a ride, he'd just say no, "Well, they had to take a taxi, anyway, right? They should've called one to begin with."
I'm helping Mr W process him, and it's no biggie. Until I have to read to him the consent form to draw blood, and Mirandize him. I got smart, after stumbling a bit on the consent form and read through Miranda first on my own before I attempted to do it out loud. Nerves suck. We get his blood, and here's Mr W with another form. I have to translate the questions to Spanish, then get his answer and transcribe it. We finish up and I am explaining his court date, and where to go, and stumble on the word "warrant" (it's "orden de aprehension" for the record); I give him the towing details, and now I don't want to translate anymore, but we get him to where he needs to wait for a taxi to take him home, and I make a beeline for the bathroom.
On my way back, I find a translator from another city, an official one, and ask questions about words galore. The thing is, I know this stuff. I can converse, I'm fluent, I'm just these are not words I use everyday. I don't say, "buenos dias, Nana, there will be un orden de aprehension issued for your arrest if you don't show up to court on your given day. Estabas manejando un caro bajo la influencia de alcohol." No, that doesn't come up much on my weekend visits. And I'm nervous, in the face of all these guys my husband works with, because I--I don't want to look like an idiot.
Yet I manage to feel like one, with the next round.
Because little did I know that other people noticed I could translate...
And I got called over, again to do it, near the end of the night.
"Hey, can you help us out?" I get motioned over.
"Sure," I plop down in the chair next to the guy.
Meanwhile, out of the corner of my eye, I'm watching this blonde girl, attractive, miles of midriff showing, acting like if she is flirty enough, she might get a break. Ugh. Please. Put your hands on the fingerprint inkpad, and get it over with, you idiot. Of course, men are men. Ogles, shared glances all around. I don't have time for this, this fifth grade business, so I concentrate on the drunk guy.
This time, the man, he's not very cooperative; he's pissed off, and not really listening to me. I'm not even sure what it is he wants to know. I do my best. He's getting on my nerves, as he is just not getting it and we keep going in circles. Maybe I'm missing something, so I go fetch my new translator buddy to help me out, and as he takes that over, I get called to translate at the end of the table for someone else. I don't mind. I hop in.
Of course, he wants to discuss all his names, and which one should be used, blah, blah. Again, I am dealing with a man so drunk I don't think he could form a coherent thought, and I'm trying to get him to just chill and let them process him.
I look up and the translator is gone. I get called back to Mr. Indignant again. Who is still making no sense, but whatever.
I really want out of this, right now. But the two guys are fixated on me when the translator is gone. And the volunteers processing them call me back when they need help. So I bounce back and forth between the two. I want to help, really, I do. I like translating. But I don't like being abandoned in the middle of it. If I have a question, I need to be able to ask it and have an answer; not have to scramble for it. And all the officers are interested in, understandably so, is getting their guy/girl out of there, so they can leave. Fine. If I were more experienced at this, I wouldn't care, but at this point, I'm not, so it's particularly annoying to me that I'm on my own. Mr W, has gone from admiring me in action, to getting irritated that I'm not getting his signal that I need to get the hell out of there. *I can't go into detail here. He was right, but I didn't know. I was right, and he understood my point later.*
Things are winding down. I've gone a few verbal rounds with Mr Indignant. All of a sudden, he's right next to me, with more questions. I'm thinking, why is he here, why is he uncuffed, and why is no one getting him away from me? Obviously, he's been released, or something, whatever. Take him out of here, don't let him come up and start talking to me. I feel my hand start reaching over for Mr W, who is off behind and to the side of me, and just then, the guy's arresting officer shows up, and hooks the guy right there in front of me, for what, I have no idea. I really don't care, at this point, I just put some distance between us.
Mr W and I leave, after I take a picture of the group.
He invites me for breakfast.
And sitting there across from him, in a deserted Denny's, I told him:
*You don't get paid enough for what you do. No way.
*People do suck.
*Sometimes, your coworkers suck. (except Remo...he gets a pass, outspoken or not)
*I'm really glad I came along.
*He's an odd fit in his current group of coworkers.
*I don't mind translating. But I won't do it under those conditions again.
*I admire that you can do this everyday, and still manage to maintain your sense of self.
*Are you gonna finish that? Because I'm starving.
I just wanted to hug him.
Once we got home, and settled, I did. I'd still be hugging him, if it hadn't been for Audrey waking up and squeezing in.
Noooo. I'd been up for 24 hours.
Ah, well, sleep is overrated. I stumbled down the hall, poured her some chocolate milk, and poured myself into the magic chair.
Until noon. When I was called to translate again.
For my three year old.
Now, there's a job I can handle.