Have you ever been BOLO’d? Neither had I until last Saturday, and I have to say that it is doing wonders for my image. I’ve always been sort of squeakly, clean, geeky kinda guy. But now I have formally joined the ranks of the “Bad Boys!”
Never heard of a BOLO? Neither had I until last Saturday, but now I am very aware of it’s meaning and it’s reach. Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about it:
An All Points Bulletin (APB) is a broadcast issued from one law enforcement agency to another. It typically contains information about a wanted suspect who is to be arrested or a person of interest for whom law enforcement officers are to look. As used by police, the term dates to at least 1960. An all-points bulletin can also be known as a BOLO, which stands for “be on the lookout”. It is sometimes called a “lookout” or “BOL” for short.
And so now that you know, I guess it is time for “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey says. So here’s the deal with just the facts and nothing but the facts:
On Saturday night, January 6th, 2006 approximately at 7:30pm, my wife, Pam and I were ensconsed in our white, Ford Expedition heading along Highway 19 North toward Philadelphia (a small city in Mississippi). We were approaching the small town of Collinsville, MS when I realized that we didn’t have enough fuel to get us to Philadelphia and back and that I should probably stop and get some gas for our vehicle. Therefore, I pulled over into the Conoco Super Stop on the right hand of the highway and up to a fuel pump whereupon I exited the said vehicle and began the process of putting the nozzle into the mouth of the tank and getting the pump started.
I selected the grade and pushed the button labeled ‘Inside Credit’ because I intended to pay for the gas along with purchasing a bottled water for my wife, Pam, and a diet soda for myself. (I thought I might also get us a snack as well since it might be a few hours before we ate dinner.) In spite of a large red sign on the pump that said you must pay for your gas first due to past drive-offs, I waited for just a few seconds, and the pump started pumping gas.
When the tank was full, I headed inside the convenience store and wandered around for a few minutes picking out our drinks and then trying to decide on an appropriate snack. (Just as an aside, I settled on those little-bitty chocolate covered donuts, a) Because they are really, really good, b) My wife really likes those tidbits, and c) They come 6 to a pack which makes them very easy to split between us. But I digress…) Anyway, after a few minutes of convenience store shopping, I decided to get into the line to pay, when I discovered that the girl working behind the counter, used to work in my home town Conoco,
As I waited in line, I spoke to the clerk as another clerk came into and opened the second cash register and called me over. I put my snacks and drinks on the counter and continued talking to the first clerk as the second clerk rang up all of my purchases. I handed over my credit card without being asked, in fact, since asking me to come over to her register, the second clerk hadn’t said anything at all. She ran the card through the machine and handed me my card and the receipt to sign. I signed the receipt and put it in my wallet without looking at either one, said my goodbyes to the first clerk, gathered up my goodies and headed out to join my wife and complete our evening trip to Philadelphia, MS.
After enjoying a great dinner and some fun at the Silver Star, we headed home around 10:30pm and about and hour later we approached the four-way stop and I noticed a Marion Police car in the parking lot of the gas station across the street. This is not an unusual place for a Marion Police car to be located, but I wondered if it might be Ben, Marion’s Police Chief, who normally works the late shift. I made sure that I stopped at the stop sign and turned left onto Dale drive toward our home.
As I drove past the police car, I tried to see if it was Ben, but I couldn’t see into the car. I drove about a block and looked into my rearview mirror and saw the headlights on the police car come on. We were not the only vehicle on the road, but I automatically checked my speed as Marion Police have a reputation of being very strict enforcers of the speed limit. My speed was perfect, but I still felt that rush of nervousness of being caught by the police and eased my foot off the gas a bit as the police car pulled out onto Dale Drive behind us.
Two more blocks and I turned my blinker on to turn right on the next road on the way to our house and kept checking my rearview mirror to see if the police car continued on Dale Drive, and was spooked a little more when I realized the police car was turning right just as we did. I eased up to the next stop sign and turned right again.
“He must be making his nightly rounds through the neighborhood,” I said nervously to Pam. Two blocks further and we are home free, I thought. I checked the rearview mirror again as I saw the police car turn right again and remained firmly on our tail.
I turned the blinker on to turn left into our driveway (I never turn the blinker on to turn into my driveway, but hey, there was a police car on my butt and I think there is some law that says you have to turn on your blinkers even in your driveway.) I quit looking in the rearview, but I saw the headlights of the police car pulling into my driveway as I parked in the garage.
As I exited the vehicle, I heard a familiar voice call my name and I relaxed a little bit when I realized that it was Ben after all and since we are friends I figured he was just bored and wanted to talk about computers. Ben got out of his car and stood beside it as Pam and I headed out to see what was up.
I guess I should describe Ben to you. Ben is a 6′ 2″ tall, buff, black man with closely cropped hair, glasses and arms that are huge. He works out religiously, has two degrees, manages rental properties in the day time, goes to college to work on a master’s degree, is the Marion Police Chief, works the night shift and supports several children. An articulate, generous man, he has a great sense of humor and extensive knowledge of the world around him and the people who populate it. Oh, and in a surreal sort of way, he speaks with a redneck accent. It is a combination that is just enough off from what you expect to drive a person to distraction. I’ve liked Ben from the moment I met him and we’ve developed a great relationship over the years.
Standing in our driveway at 11:30pm with Ben, I shook his hand and said, “So, what’s up?”
“Were you in Collinsville earlier tonight?” he asked.
“Yeah, we were headed up to Philadelphia for dinner and we stopped to get gas at the Conoco.”
“Well, they issued a BOLO alert on you for driving off without paying for your gas.” he said.
“Can’t be,” I replied defensively, “I’ve got a receipt!”
“A receipt? Let me see it.” Ben was clearly surprised by this turn of events.
I pulled out the receipt and as I started to hand it over, I saw the total at the bottom. $3.57. I had pumped $35.00 in gas so I knew immediately what had happened. In the course of paying for my items, the second clerk didn’t know I had gotten gas and had not added it to my total.
Ben looked at the receipt and said, “Looks like you didn’t drive off without paying for you gas, It looks more like they forgot to bill you. Did they ask you if you had gotten gas?”
“No. But I was talking to one clerk while the other one rang me up.”
“Tell you what, lemme call dispatch and tell them to pull off the BOLO, and I’ll have dispatch tell them you’ll come out and pay for the gas.”
“Yeah, but it ain’t gonna happen tonight. It’s 20 minutes out there, and we’re tired. How about I head out to the Conoco after church tomorrow and pay up then.”
“Sounds good to me, I’ll have dispatch call the Conoco and let them know what’s going on and what the plan is.” Ben promised.
And with that Pam and I headed into the house and hopefully to bed soon. As we entered the house, we heard the familiar beeps of messages on the answering machine. Pam punched the play button and we heard the voice of a young woman on the message asking for Paul Tarver to come back and pay for the gas I drove off without paying for before 10:00pm. I was a little put out that the assumption was that I had “driven off without paying for the gas on purpose” but Pam and I laughed it off as being just one more funny story I could write up and put on the website. The second message was from a friend who worked as a deputy for the Lauderdale Sheriff’s department, begging to know what was going on since my name was on a BOLO alert and wanting me to give him a call as soon as possible. I called and left a message telling him that we had spoke with Ben and we were getting the situation resolved.
Sunday morning brought sunshine and a bit of anger as the events of the previous evening stewed around in my brain. Pam was more than a little miffed as well as we realized that my name had been broadcast all over the police radios and scanners combined with the implication that I had drive off intentionally without paying for gas that I had pumped. We went to church and tried to forget about it for a while, but all I could think about was getting to Collinsville and getting this whole misunderstanding resolved.
As soon as the final prayer was said at church, we got in the truck and headed to Collinsville. About 20 minutes later I pulled up in front of the Conoco and went inside. I walked up to the counter and approached one of the clerks.
“I’m Paul Tarver and I’m here to pay for the gas I didn’t get charged for last night, ” I said. “And by the way, was it really necessary to call the police since you had my credit card number, you knew I lived in Marion, MS, and you had my telephone number? Wouldn’t a call to let me know that we had a problem have been enough?”
“Well, sir, driving off without paying for gas is a criminal offense, ” she replied defensively.
“Only if you do it without any intent to pay!” I said somewhat incredulously.
“Sir, I didn’t say you were a criminal or anything, ” she said snidely.
“I’m sorry but you just did. You said that I drove off without paying for my gas which is a criminal offense which makes me enough of a criminal in your eyes to make you want to call out the police on me! How can you say that you didn’t call me a criminal?”
She just rolled her eyes and ran my credit card through the machine, gave me back my credit card along with a receipt to sign. This time I read the receipt carefully and verified that I had been properly charged. Returned to my truck where Pam was waiting and we headed back to our regular lives.
Monday brought a new perspective as I realized that since I’ve now had a BOLO alert issued for me, I had now officially joined the ranks of “Bad Boys” which might not be all bad. I mean after all these years of being an overweight computer geek, good guy, I’m now a bad boy! Membership has it’s advantages. I told Pam that she better look out, because now I was going to have to beat off all the women with a stick.
I got a stick. I’m still waiting to use it.