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Spend some time in the lobby of your local sheriff’s office for an entertaining and self-esteem boosting experience. The lobby is apparently the meeting place of the local chapter of Strugglers Anonymous.

At about 2:00 AM on Monday morning a drunk driver miscalculated the curve in the road and launched his truck over the top of a dirt bank straight through the cement-block wall of my brother and sister-in-law’s shop (the green thing sticking up between the two posts is what’s left of the gas meter he tore out – the building was full of natural gas).

The deputy on the scene didn’t give them any information on the driver, which they needed to begin the slog through the insurance process. Since I was at the courthouse yesterday doing licensing and passport business, I told my sister-in-law I’d stop next door at the sheriff’s office to see if I could get any information.

It wasn’t immediately clear what business the young man in front of me was trying to sort out, and you can bet that wasn’t for lack of eavesdropping on my part. In the span of about ten minutes I heard something about a car, the side of the road, some bushes. And Wednesday. The clerk excused herself and I scooted closer to easy-listening range. When she came back she asked him if he had time to wait for a deputy to take his statement to file a report.

How long?

It could be five minutes or, at most, an hour. I have to call 911 and request a deputy, or you can call 911. Do you have time to wait?

No. [Despite all signs pointing toward him having nothing but time to wait.] Can you see if my car has been reported stolen?

The only person who can report your car stolen is you. And it’s important that you know that if, after you report your car stolen, a deputy sees your car being driven the driver will be pulled over at gunpoint. And if you find your car but don’t report it and you’re driving it, you’ll be pulled over at gunpoint.

Yeah, but I just told you my car was stolen.

Yes, but a deputy has to take your statement and I don’t know if one is available in the building at the moment.

But I’m telling you that my car was stolen.

I understand, sir. If you don’t have time to wait you can call 911, tell them it’s a non-emergency, and a deputy will contact you.

Yeah, well, how long will that take? Can I just leave my number and have someone call me?

That’s essentially what you’d be doing by calling 911.

So, if someone robs a bank and speeds away in my car and someone gets the license plate number I’ll get arrested for robbing the bank?

No, sir. Unless he sees you, the deputy won’t be able to prove who was driving your car. If you don’t have time to wait, calling 911 is your best option.

That’s why I’m telling you. Why can’t you just fill out the report? So now someone might be driving my car and robbing banks and it’s my fault because you won’t report my car stolen. I came here so I could report my car stolen now in case someone else is driving it because I don’t want to get arrested for robbing a bank.

Sir, you said your car was stolen on Wednesday.


Sir, that was five days ago.

Yeah, well. That’s just great. Thanks. Have a nice day.

And, no. No truck-through-the-wall crash report available.