Genre: Creative Non-fiction
Busted for Bud
"Hey you! Come with me."
The police officer's bark woke Reed up. He had just fallen asleep. The ache in his back and neck was getting worse. That's what you get for laying on a cement block with no pillow. Boat sized dangling off the edge. He told me that the entire room was grey. The brick walls, cold hard floor, thick metal door with thick metal bolts. All grey. What they gave him for a blanket was thin, itchy and grey.
The only thing that wasn't grey was the flick, flick, flickering of the light bulb that threatened to give Reed a migraine.
He lifted himself off his block; the smell of jasmine, lavender, and sweat clung to his nostrils. His business partner was in the room before him—a hippy who had new age personal hygiene.
The officer escorted Reed into another room, cement of course. Besides a single table accompanied by two chairs, the room was completely empty. Reed took a seat. The officer sat across from him. Another uniformed man entered the room without a word. He folded his thick arms across his chest, circling the table.
"You're looking at life in prison for this," the officer said.
Reed told me he nearly grinned at the officer's remark, but didn't dare. He stayed silent instead. The officer decided to speak again, this time taking a different approach. "Just to let you know, your partner rolled on you."
Reed leaned back in his seat. He swept a hand through his short, rust hair and gave his shoulders a little shrug before speaking. "Well, then it's probably even more important that I wait for my lawyer's advice."
Approximately fifty-eight thousand Canadians are arrested each year for pot related crimes. Reed was the first person I knew who joined that statistic. He was busted at a check stop outside a small town in mainland British Columbia in June, 2009. The only reason why he didn't go to jail was because the police searched his vehicle without a permit, and the fact that marijuana laws are so blurred in Canada that many people don't even see the inside of a courtroom.
"I found out that the biggest pet peeve for cops is the inability to identify someone. I didn't have my driver's license on me when we were pulled over, so I guess that annoyed the police and gave them a reason to question me." Reed didn't realize that he had left his I.D. and wallet at home until he was five hours away. When Reed and his business partner were asked by the police what their plans were for the night, Reed explained that his buddy had gotten in a fight with his girlfriend. They were on their way to a friend's house where he could crash for the night, which wasn't a complete lie.
"Have you had anything to drink tonight, sir?" the officer asked, tilting his head so he could get a good look at the empty back seat.
"I had a pint with dinner about five hours ago, other than that, no." Reed was telling the truth; he blew a zero point zero on the breathalyser test. Alcohol wasn't the issue here. It was his reluctance to let them search his vehicle.
"Step out of the car, please."
Reed watched as one of the officers pulled out a large cardboard box hidden under his back seat. Inside was a sealed ionized bag wrapped in plastic containing a pound of pot. B.C. bud, to be exact. Seconds later the same officer found a taped up Kleenex box containing 38 thousand dollars of Reed's boss' money. Handcuffs clicked around his wrists and he never saw that cash again.
"Basically," he told me, slouched over, legs crossed and joint in hand, "I was fucked."
Before Reed was busted he worked fourteen hour days most of the time. He had a job driving for a courier company working nine to five, Monday to Friday. As soon as Reed was finished he'd saunter over to his Jetta, still in his work uniform, and take off to his first deal of the evening. By the time he arrived he'd be changed, fed and hydrated without getting out of his car once. Anyone on the road behind him would spot a four litre jug of chocolate milk popping up from his sun roof from time to time. Sitting in the back seat of his car was always a challenge, empty pop cans and milk jugs invaded the floor. They rustled and clanged whenever you moved your feet.
"My buddy always laughed when he would see me get into my car wearing courier pants and get out in my cargos."
The evenings would consist of Reed making trips all over the city until close to midnight. He was a foot man, trekking to multiple places to meet anyone who wanted to pick up for the night. The angry vibration of his phone would constantly notify him of text messages. "Wanna meet up 4 sum salad later?" "Hey man I need ur services." "When r u gunna be in the area?" "Wanna dine tonight?" Reed had to turn it off whenever he wanted enough peace and quiet to sit down and eat a meal. He took weekends off, but those were spent driving out of town to drop off cash and pick up more pot.
He told me that during a date he got a call from some drunk woman at her office party. She was looking for a five chunk and a ride home after—an amount that wasn't worth the hour drive to drop it off. Unfortunately for Reed she was persistent and ruined the rest of his date.
He once arrived at a house to find the place trashed and a pair of cops questioning his customers. The couple who called to pick up got into a fight and the girlfriend beat the crap out of her six foot four boyfriend. Furniture was flipped over and dishes were smashed on the floor. Reed pretended to be at the wrong house and got out of there. The worn out green backpack that was latched to his back was holding a half pound of pot.
Money was never something that Reed had to worry about, but it seemed to disappear just as fast as it arrived. He's the son of two chartered accountants, but Reed never thought to save or invest any of his earnings. Instead he spent copious amounts on liquor and eating out three times a day. There were a few times when Reed would get a hotel room for him and a few friends just so they could party all night and trash the place.
"I have to pay back all the money I lost when I was arrested. There were times when I had that much cash on hand, easy." Reed said. "I didn't inherit the rest of my family's accounting abilities."
"So was it all worth it?" I asked. He looked at me, taking a toke from the joint that was pressed between his two thick fingers before passing it to me.
"Think about it this way," he said, voice strained from the smoke in his lungs. "What woman is going to date a twenty-eight year old who lives in their parent's basement because they're 38 thousand dollars in debt?"