In November 2018, I went to Tacoma, Washington to spend the holiday with some friends. While I was visiting, however, we decided to meet up with our friend in Port Orchard, Washington (about 40-miles away from Tacoma). All four (4) of us smoke weed, so it was inevitable that part of our hangout was going to include at least one smoke sesh.
We decided to carpool to Bremerton, Washington (less than 10-miles from Port Orchard) and hang out in the board game shops they had downtown. When we arrived, our friend — who was driving — asked if we wanted to help her hot box her car for the first time ever.
We obviously said yes.
Once our plan was confirmed, I pulled out our first joint of the night and lit up. In all our excitement, however, we failed to notice that we had parked in front of a hardware store with an all-glass storefront. And the two (2) employees on duty that day could clearly see everything we were doing. Wanting to be considerate, and frankly avoid potential calls to the cops, we pulled forward until we were no longer in front of any storefront.
Don’t worry, friends! The entire parking strip was empty, so we cruised forward slowly and without re-entering traffic.
A few minutes later, we noticed a woman who was driving with her left hand out of her driver’s side window while dragging a grocery cart alongside her. We were all confused but mostly amused at the sight. Especially when she made her first right-hand turn with the cart still in hand. Then, she made a second right-hand turn into a Safeway parking lot and our confusion dissipated.
Once I reached my limit for that particular session, I decided to walk to the same Safeway to get some cash out for my share of gas. I had walked about 10-feet away from the car when the first cop showed up. The officer didn’t seem to be looking for our car, however. Instead, he drove straight to the Safeway parking lot and disappeared.
A few feet later, I crossed the street to the block the store was on and noticed a man sitting with his back up against the store’s building. Given his appearance, I believe that he was homeless. Then, just as I was about to turn the corner to enter the store, the officer from earlier appeared from around the corner. In the span of a few seconds, my stomach knotted and then relaxed when I realized the cop was more interested in the man sitting behind me.
So I kept walking.
While I was getting cash from inside the store, I gave myself a mental pep-talk. The cop wasn’t there for me, so my paranoid brain had nothing to worry about; right?
As I exited the store and then turned the corner to walk back to my friend’s car, I saw not one (1) but five (5) police vehicles; three (3) of which were full-size SUVs. All five (5) police officers were talking in a huddle in the middle of the sidewalk I had used to get to the store. Although they were obviously interested in the homeless man sitting against the building, I wasn’t too excited to risk walking through the group after hotboxing a car that was only a few hundred feet away. Anyone would have been able to smell weed smoke on me, but these weren’t just “anyone”. These were cops. Five (5) cops. So, after a small moment of indecision, I decided it would be best to cross the street.
Once my friends saw me, they crossed the street to meet me in an abandoned gravel parking lot. As soon as I was out of the officers’ earshot, however, I busted up laughing. Never had my paranoia and ability to remain calm under pressure been able to hold up to the pure fear I had felt coursing through my veins. Although, admittedly, being stoned had sort of deadened some of the fear. Or, it had at least made it less of an active concern for me. Nevertheless, it gave us all the excuse to smoke another round before we actually went into the game store. We moved the car to a more secluded, but not abandoned, parking lot and hotboxed the car a second time. All the while, laughing at how close we had come to being caught. We eventually made it into the game store but only stayed long enough to play one game.
With weed in our brains and excitement in our hearts, we ended the night with two (2) pizzas from Little Caesars. The pizza wasn’t that great, but it was undoubtedly a night to remember.