From Susan Parker: On Drugs and Dogs And Dumb Questions on a Corner

From Susan Parker
Tuesday May 18, 2004

Andrea, the woman who helps me take care of my husband, walked down to the corner liquor store to buy cigarettes one night around 9 p.m. Although the store is only a block from my house, I never patronize it as there’s too much questionable activity going on around its parking lot. Instead, I drive my car a mile to the closest full-service grocery store. Andrea doesn’t have a car and so she does not have that option. 

According to Andrea, on the way back to our house, a man and a woman stopped her and asked her where they could buy drugs. It was a dumb question, because the answer is obvious. Just stand on the corner by the liquor store, and the drugs will come to you. Even me, a woman with no experience with crack cocaine, knows, in theory at least, where to find it. 

Instead of saying “I don’t know,” Andrea pointed to the corner from whence she had come and answered, “Down there.” Now things get a little confusing in the telling of this tale as Andrea begins to talk fast and her words start to slur. But from what I gather the woman, (who later turned out to be an undercover cop), pressed $20 into Andrea’s hands and said, “Go get me some.” Andrea said no, but a few minutes later an acquaintance of Andrea’s requested the same thing and she complied. She bought the drugs to give to him, but the bills were marked and she was arrested for trafficking. She was handcuffed and taken to the Alameda County Jail where she stayed for 11 days. When a check was run on her identity it revealed that she had a previous record, so she was transferred to Santa Rita County Jail where she spent 28 days. 

Andrea is not a bad person. She has raised a son and is helping to raise, with her elderly mother, several nieces, nephews and grandchildren. Sometimes she goes to church, but most of the time, when she’s not with the kids, or with my husband, she is in her room watching TV or cooking dinner for her boyfriend’s mother or braiding an endless line of other people’s hair. She should never go to the liquor store on the corner again, no matter how much she needs a cigarette, because there is a chance she could get into trouble. 

I don’t know how much it cost the taxpayers of Alameda County to keep Andrea in jail, but it couldn’t have been cheap. Three meals a day, plus lots of medical attention. She got sick while incarcerated and was treated for high blood pressure and asthma. When released, she was given the clothes that she had on at her arrest and a BART ticket to get from Pleasanton to the MacArthur station. From there she walked home to our house and went to bed. 

Several days ago I broke the law, but luckily, I didn’t get into trouble. At 3 a.m., my dog Whiskers wanted to take a walk. I took her to the front door, looked up and down the street, didn’t see any activity, so I let her out. Then I laid on the sofa to wait for her return. Ten minutes later there was a loud knock at the door, and a bright light shining into our front window. I opened it to find Whiskers sitting on the steps and a policeman. 

“Is this your dog?” he asked, shining the light in my eyes. 

“Yes,” I answered sheepishly. 

“I saw her on the corner,” said the officer. “She seemed to know where she was going so I followed her as she came up the street and stopped at your front steps. I figured she belonged here, but I wasn’t sure.” 

“Thank you,” I said. “I promise it won’t happen again.” 

I brought Whiskers into the house and hugged her. Andrea came downstairs to see what was going on. 

“The cops brought Whiskers home?” she asked. 

“Yes,” I answered. 

“Damn,” said Andrea. “They hauled my ass to jail, but they let Whiskers off?” 

“Yes,” I answered. “They did.”