It was Wednesday, and it was hot. I mean, of course it was hot: it's summer in DC after all.
I needed gas.
Which is how nearly ended up ruining a sting operation at a seedy Shell on New York Avenue.
I am not the kind of person who shops around for a bargain. Circulars do not make me burst into glee or song, nor do I greet the weekend paper with scissors, or even bells, on.
So when I emphasize that it's highly unlike me to go driving around the city because I saw gas for ten cents cheaper at that fateful Shell on New York Avenue, I am hoping that you will take me at face value and beyond. Because I actually made a point of driving around with nothing but the fumes fueling my car so I could save… well, I'm sure I saved some money. But I also gained a story.
The man didn't look much out of the ordinary, really. He looked a little scummy and a little dirty, yes, and he was entirely too self-assured for someone who is going around town in a beaten-up Hyundai. He ogled me as he pulled into the gas station and I just had to chuckle because there are some guys who will ogle anything– from lamp-posts to grandmothers to dumpy mothers with twenty (or forty) extra pounds and with matted hair from a day spent at the pool.
The one who caught my eye was the woman.
She was wearing a pair of high-heeled peep-toed mules, the kind that have not really been in fashion since 1993; a yellow pair of Capri pants that had some oily dark stain on the left butt-cheek, and a loose t-shirt that revealed her rather perky bralessness.
Her hair was disheveled, just so.
But of all the things, what was odd about her was that she seemed to match the bright, cheery, we-want-your-money yellow of the Shell. She was like a beacon, standing here. At first I thought she could be an employee, directing cars around. But that didn't make sense, at least not in this gas station.
What was she doing, standing in the middle of a gas station when it's already hot outside, and muggy and stinky and generally not that fun out; and moreover in a rather grungy and industrial part of town?
Because this is the kind of person I am, my thoughts went fleetingly from worrying about her and her possible luck in such an inhospitable place without appropriate footwear, and briefly considering asking her whether she needed help or a ride, or a phone, or better shoes; to worrying that she would somehow jump into my car while I tanked up and drive off with my two children and my wallet. And that her butt stain would leave a smudge on my upholstery.
(Yes, I am paranoid. But just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean that the lady with the stained butt won't run away with your two kids.)
I focused on getting through refueling the car without pissing off The Credit Card Gods– because if you mess up punching in your zipcode or your social security or your number of extant tonsils on the slippery buttons that are coated in the innards of someone's gas tank, the pump gets moody and won't let you buy the gas. I was pleased to notice that Stained-Butt started chatting away with the man.
Suddenly, I just paused and thought, "Oh goody! They know each other! She was just waiting for her friend."
Oblivious to what was ACTUALLY GOING ON NOT TEN FEET FROM ME, I started humming happily about them being friends, and now she's going to get a ride to work or wherever and she won't have to walk in those shoes and tra la la, when…
…she disappeared. And…
… I saw a paddy wagon blocking the NY Avenue exit to the gas station. And two cruisers blocked the other exit, for good measure.
"Hm," went the inner monologue, "that's kind of odd."
And then three men, showing off their doughnutty physique in Kevlar vests, approached Hyundai man and, guns in hand, pulled him out, handcuffed him, and led him away and into the paddy wagon, while the Hyundai just kind of sat there.
And then the inner monologue started to scream, "WHERE IS MY KEVLAR VEST, YOU JACKASSES?!?!"
She was a cop.
This explained why she looked just so. Ratty enough to pass, but suspicious enough not to do so.
And honestly? After the penny finally dropped, I totally kept on looking for the cameras, because this could have been pulled right out of COPS.