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Vomiting near a loading dock on a rainy night in a Pacific Beach alley isn’t the best feeling in the world. In fact, just the thought of it brings back the acidic, post-puke taste in the back of my throat. With a healthy beard and a dark hooded sweatshirt on, I probably looked like a homeless man. My phone was dead; my eyes bloodshot. I happened to be car-less that day too, which solidified my temporary appearance as a desperate, drunk vagrant.

Nauseous and dizzy, I went to the only place I felt I could sit down and recover: Starbucks-- Starbucks of all places, where I found myself listening to the acoustic pop flavor of the month, just waiting to get kicked out by the over-attentive manager who was clearly prejudging me as a non-potential customer. True—I was far from presentable at the moment. I was disheveled and un-groomed. My car was in the shop. My co-worker had been kind enough to give me a ride after work. But who knew a stomach bug would be hitting me at such an inopportune time? And that’s the thing: I wasn’t even drunk. No drinking at all, in fact. I had just been dropped off in PB, only blocks away from where I was to meet my girlfriend for dinner—a date. I was a little early, and now violently ill.

Coffee? That’s the last thing I’d put in my stomach. Water? Might be a good idea, but asking for a free cup would probably confirm my apparent bum status. Paying three bucks for a bottle of water might make me a damn fool, but I was ready to make that admission in order to buy time to pull myself together on a dry, comfy chair. I decided to hit the bathroom first to rinse out my mouth. As I walked I felt three pairs of Starbucks employee eyes following me, their fluffy conversations turned silent. I suddenly felt as if I was the Unabomber. They’d never believe I was a professor of history—not in this condition.

The Starbucks bathroom: a refuge of sorts-- fairly new, clean, and a free place to clean up a bit. I had never seen it as such. Now I thanked the corporate Gods that these coffee shops graced almost every block, offering free napkins, cushiony chairs, and restrooms. I wiped some of the remnants from my beard and sweatshirt, splashed water on my face, and looked in the mirror. It wasn’t good. I was a wreck.

I soon left my private refuge and was greeted by unwelcome stares from the staff. ‘Don’t worry,’ I thought, ‘I’ll buy something from you petty bastards.’ I plopped myself down on a chair right next to the window. I couldn’t help but look outside every few moments in anticipation of my girlfriend driving by, spotting me, picking me up, and taking me out of this godforsaken place. Do I even deserve to have a girlfriend at this point? Will I still have a girlfriend when she sees me in this state? My Southern California superficiality had gotten to me again. Everything would be fine, but I was beginning to feel weak. I needed to drink water and eat something or I might pass out.

“Excuse me, sir,” said a man in a green apron, black polo shirt and Starbucks hat.

I’m guessing he felt obliged to call me “sir” in order to protect himself from any future harassment or discrimination lawsuit. I looked up at his fake smile and deep crow’s feet. The economy must be really horrible, I thought, if this old guy’s working at Starbucks. His next words indicated that he hadn’t the least bit of compassion or respect for a guy like me.

“I’m gonna’ have to ask you to leave now,” he said.

“Oh-- I was just about to buy something.” I said with assurance.

“Nope, you’re outta’ here buddy. Get up,” he said.

Really? He went from “Sir” to “buddy”, then a direct command. He actually thought I was a bum. The insult was more shocking and ridiculous than painful. At first I wanted to correct his perspective, but I opted to embrace the role instead.

“I didn’t know this place was so Fascist.” I said.

“Please just leave, buddy,” he said.

“We’re obviously not buddies,” I said, “Plus, I would never be friends with a Corporate Fascist anyways! Who owns this place, Mussolini?”

All Mr. Frappaccino did was stare. A hint of fear swam in his eyes. He wasn’t the only one. Every person inside Starbucks was gawking at me. I had instantly become the crazy homeless man-- the loony speaking jibberish to himself on the sidewalk. I couldn’t believe it. I almost muttered about not wanting to spend three dollars on a bottle of water anyway, but I realized that might just prompt them to bring out the straight-jacket.

I exited quietly.

Luckily the rain had stopped. I decided to walk down the alley toward my date meeting point when I started gagging again. It hurt. My stomach was cramping. What kind of evil bacteria was destroying my digestive system? Was it a new viral epidemic that had yet to sweep the national news? My insides grumbled ominously. I would have called my girlfriend from a pay phone, but I had never memorized her number. Dead cell phones aren’t very useful.

Still hunched over in my vomit-ready stance, I heard tiny gravel rocks grinding under the tires of a car coming to an abrupt stop. I remained bent over in pain with my hands on my knees; eyes on the unstable ground. I recognized the reflection of flashing red and blue lights. The police? This was completely uncalled for! Sure, I might not have looked like the most upstanding citizen at the moment, but I was no criminal. Had I broken a law? Maybe Frappaccino called the cops? Even though I had done absolutely nothing wrong, I began to feel like an outlaw. I heard the police car door shut and the heavy footsteps of boots.

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Comments

nan shartel June 6, 2010 @ 9:56 a.m.

well it only took u 2 to get 1st place domcarrillo...congrats

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rickeysays June 10, 2010 @ 1:37 a.m.

It sounds like you both got what you deserved. You acted like a prick to a cop and got cuffed and put in the car, and he acted like an unprofessional idiot and got to clean puke out of his car.

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TargetedinSanDiego June 21, 2010 @ 3:16 p.m.

Reports of phony, causeless and misconducted arrests are already at epidemic proportions in this country. You can thank the ever-renewing Patriot Act and a growing list of quietly-signed Executive Orders for that. Check it out at www.WhiteHouse.gov.

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SurfPuppy619 June 21, 2010 @ 4:31 p.m.

It sounds like you both got what you deserved. You acted like a prick to a cop and got cuffed and put in the car,

Acting like a "prick" is not grounds for arresting anyone Perry Mason Jr.

Cops face this sort of verbal bantering from the public all the time, that's what they get paid the BIG BUCKS for, to not let mouthy, smarty pants get to them.

If you cannot take a little lip from some smarty pants on the street then you probably should not be a cop. In fact the cop had no legal authority to even cuff the guy, much less put this guy in his car-that is not only a false arrest but also kidnapping.

The cop had the legal authority to determnine if the guy was drunk-or had commited some other crime, nothing more. I don't know both sides of the story-but given THIS SIDE, the cop didn't even conduct a cursory investigation before handcuffing the victim. And if that is true then these are constitutional violations.

It is a hard job to work PB with all the alcohol problems, but this kind of police conduct does not help, just hurts, the problem.

You get some mouthy jerk, just act like the cop you are supposed to be, and don't react to the BS nonsense.

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Bisker June 22, 2010 @ 7:43 a.m.

In fact the cop had no legal authority to even cuff the guy, much less put this guy in his car-that is not only a false arrest but also kidnapping.

Really? I don't know the facts of the incident originally blogged here, but I'm pretty sure the cop could have restrained him until he determined what was going on.

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SurfPuppy619 June 22, 2010 @ 8:52 a.m.

Really? I don't know the facts of the incident originally blogged here, but I'm pretty sure the cop could have restrained him until he determined what was going on.

Well the facts are what were presented here-that the guy was sick and throwing up.

And NO you do NOT get to "restrain" anyone, without, at a minimum, probable cause that a crime had been committed.

I have no idea where you got the notion that the police can randomly walk up to people in a public place and then just randomly "restrain" them.

In fact the cop does not even have legal authority to conduct an OUTSIDE search of the persons clothing WITHOUT first having reasonable suspecion the person is armed.

It's that old pesky 4th Amendment to the Constitution.......

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CuddleFish June 22, 2010 @ 11:23 a.m.

The problem with that, SurfPuppy, is what the problem has always been: Arguing with a cop is like arguing with your boss. Short term and long term, one way or another, you will never win that argument. Don't give them any excuses, because in the end you suffer, they don't.

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SurfPuppy619 June 22, 2010 @ 11:49 a.m.

The problem with that, SurfPuppy, is what the problem has always been: Arguing with a cop is like arguing with your boss. Short term and long term, one way or another, you will never win that argument. Don't give them any excuses, because in the end you suffer, they don't.

Don't get me wrong, I never said it was a smart thing to do. And it could get you killed, as the cops have the guns. One of the reasons cops need the maturity to take lip from smart alecs on the street is because allowing such an incident to escalate could potentially end up in a deadly force situation, if the street person took a stand and decided to stand up for their rights. That is not a good trade off over some smarty pants giving the cop some lip-and I do not condone nor advise to give cops lip.

As for who wins in the long run, 99% of the time you're correct, the cop always wins. But it is that 1% of the time where someone files a federal civil rights lawsuit and the cop loses a few million in damages that tilts the odds.

I do see both sides, but in the end the cop is the one who is trained and makes a good living in their job-so they have to keep their cool. Also, it is a waste of resources to spend LE time, energy and effort over something as minor as this-which is at worst a public drunk, at best a guy who is sick.

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Grasca June 22, 2010 @ 12:30 p.m.

Without a video from an intrepid reporter or a dash cam from the SDPD, how do we know what really happened ?

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CuddleFish June 22, 2010 @ 2:33 p.m.

All I can say is, he's very lucky. His girlfriend picked up a sick man in PB instead of a dead body at the morgue.

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SurfPuppy619 June 22, 2010 @ 2:39 p.m.

Without a video from an intrepid reporter or a dash cam from the SDPD, how do we know what really happened ?

That is the problem, no one knows for sure what happened without a video.......the video does not lie. Wish SDPD did have cameras. Funny how these little podunk mid-west PD's have caneras in all their cars-and have for 2 decades-but the major PD's in CA cannot afford them. One reason we need to lower that $200K comp for cops-so the muni's can buy needed equipment.

All I can say is, he's very lucky.

Yep, it certainly could have escalated and turned out much worse.....

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Bisker June 22, 2010 @ 4:38 p.m.

The first interaction between the author and the police was, according to the blog, two requests from the officer asking if the author was ok, to which the author response...

"Sure, Johnny," I said. I still hadn't looked in his direction. "So what's the Gestapo want with a sick guy like me?"

While maybe not a threatening response it sure seems aggressive, added to the verbal response the fact that the author isn't making eye contact I'd say the cop had good cause to be suspicious.

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nan shartel June 22, 2010 @ 5:16 p.m.

so i guess a man can't say "i look terrible and i'm very very sick...could u please call my friend to come pick me up"???

or explain in anyway he wasn't a good for nothing a**hole troublemaker...er um...that isn't in the male code of Massimo eh??

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SurfPuppy619 June 22, 2010 @ 7:32 p.m.

Bisker, you're right, the cop had a right to ask questions to determine the situation-no question about it.

nan, real men do not go for that macho stuff anymore :)

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CuddleFish June 22, 2010 @ 8:12 p.m.

Well apparently this blogger goes for that macho stuff, and it could have gotten him killed.

I had the same thought, nan -- why didn't he say to the people at Starbucks, I'm sorry, but I am really ill. Can I please buy a bottle of water? And if I can sit here a few minutes and wait for my girlfriend, I would appreciate it.

And to the cop, who was trying to evaluate the situation, I'm sorry, but I am really ill. If you will allow me to show you my ID, and sit here and wait for my girlfriend, I would appreciate it.

It seems to me that this guy was smart enough, educated enough, to understand the situation and how to make things better or worse for himself. He chose to make things worse. If you are going to act stupid, people are going to treat you stupid.

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nan shartel June 22, 2010 @ 8:23 p.m.

i think he's just one of the many first or second time writers of blogs here at the READER who simply wrote to claim a financial prize...funny how that happens so often here at the READER

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Visduh June 22, 2010 @ 8:26 p.m.

I got lost back at the beginning when he admitted he had a beard, a dark hooded sweatshirt, bloodshot eyes, carrying a dead cellphone, "disheveled and ungroomed", yet was a professor. Why is a professor in such shape? The stomach distress can account for part of it, but the disheveled appearance is out of character. And if you're in distress, explain to me why you have to smart mouth the Starbucks employee and the rookie cop. Hey, if I'm sick, I'm gonna be as obsequious as possible and also as pitiable. I'll be grateful for every little kindness and plead for mercy.

I guess my common sense approach doesn't work for history profs. But I'd rather grovel a bit than end up handcuffed on my way to being booked for vagrancy and disturbing the peace.

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CuddleFish June 22, 2010 @ 8:50 p.m.

Beyond common sense, that's natural instinct when you are ill and helpless, is to seek help to survive.

Smart-mouthing people when you're in that condition indicates something of your true character, I think. Very sad, if true.

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SurfPuppy619 June 22, 2010 @ 10:41 p.m.

Smart-mouthing people when you're in that condition indicates something of your true character, I think. Very sad, if true

Most people who are homeless also suffer some degree of mental illness, which certainly affects their interactions and communication with everyone. In fact when I lived in Mission/Pacific Beach I came across whacked out homeless people daily.

I know that was not the case here (but not known to the cop at the time), but it is another reaon why LE should have more restraint in dealing with the homeless, or appearantly homeless.

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nan shartel June 23, 2010 @ 9:42 a.m.

yes Cuddles i've been going to see who wins each month to congratulate them

often it is a 1st or 2nd time writer who never writes again

that has me scratching my head and hhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmming

1st prize is $500...more the just chump change so i gotta wonder about what the backstory is on these monthly award to unknown bloggers

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CuddleFish June 23, 2010 @ 10:14 a.m.

When you consider that you don't know if some of these blog posts are fiction, what does the prize really mean? I am reduced to congratulating only those winners who have some history here, and whose accounts I can believe are genuine.

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Robert Johnston June 23, 2010 @ 12:01 p.m.

Something in this story does not smell right. Part "Iron John," part "The Over-Macho Tripe In Men's Adventure Books," part "How To End Up Cold Meat In The Coroner's Wagon With A Few Choice Words to A Police Officer," and the rest "Why Strung-Out Drunks Are Not Funny."

Mix it together, read once, award 1st Place In The Reader's Neighborhood Blog Contest for July.

The thread-in-question, sadly, should have been titled: "Don't Let This Happen To You." There must have been better threads than this...but what's done is done.

Congratulate the man on his victory...after all, I took 2nd place last year with one of my threads (and it was in my first year writing for this blog). Then let's move on.

--LPR

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redcharlotte June 27, 2010 @ 10 a.m.

I find it hilarious that anyone is defending the SDPD in this situation. If anything, Dom is lucky he didn't get shot, but nothing, nowhere says he needs to be "nice" to a policeman.

You should have really hammed it up in Starbucks Dom and too bad you didn't puke in the dude's cruiser.

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phmatt June 28, 2010 @ 2:43 p.m.

You have got to be kidding me. Some silver spoon kid is not happy with the hippster he has turned out to be so he acts like an a**hole to a cop and tries to sell it to me as "Local professor/part time hooligan mixes it up with a green rookie cop".Give me a break. Wow, I'll bet they put your picture up in the Starbucks with a warning to look out for this crazy hand washer. Just be yourself, you're probably OK.

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Dominic Carrillo Dec. 21, 2011 @ 6:31 p.m.

so tempted to comment, but it's way more fun to read everyone's interpretation of what 'happened'...

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cynjy May 25, 2012 @ 1:44 p.m.

I thought it was funny?! A rookey cop & a sick teacher walk into a Starbucks. :)

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