My most paranoid drive home.

That reminds me of probably THE weirdest thing that ever happened in my life.

I had just pulled up to a stop sign at a "T" intersection at the top of a hill... when up the main drive (hidden in part by the hill & a blind curve) this jackass comes cruising up and without signalling or anything, turns off onto the side road I am stopped at...

And of course since he's going to fast, he cuts the corner wide and veers/slides into my lane and... slams right into the front right quarter of my car. (Since I had just stopped, there really wasn't anything I could have done).

OK, you say, that's just a standard accident, and yup it was... now here comes the weird parts.

  • First, we're both driving Oldsmobile Delta 88's. (Mine is a 1988, and his is the earlier style 1984

  • Worse, they're both 4 door sedans.

  • Worse yet, they're both a dark-silver/gray.

  • The vehicles are entirely distinct, the 1986 and on being front wheel drive and the 185 & prior being rear-wheel drive... but of course that little detail isn't recorded on car registration descriptions (and thus the police info) -- instead it's just year, make, model, & style (i.e. sedan/coupe, 4dr/2dr).

So from the cops perspective, when they arrive and run the plates -- the descriptions that come back are fairly easily mixed up (and the fact that my Delta 88, was in fact an "88" [as in 1988] didn't help matters).

Bad enough, right? Well, it gets worse, a LOT worse:

  • The license plates are nearly identical -- the exact same 2 character alpha prefix (i.e. "TS-"), and nearly identical 4 digit suffixes, with just the last two digits transposed ("TS-1486" and "TS-1468").

Damn you say... but wait, there's more:

  • We both (the two drivers) have the same last name... well at least it's pronounced the same (i.e. Smith vs Smyth*).

  • And our first names are nearly homophones as well (i.e. like Jason vs Jacson*) the kind of thing where throughout my life I am constantly having to correct (or else give up and simply answer to) people who call me "Jackson"* even though I have no idea why they get it confused like that.

So then comes the cop. Who notes the other guy is drunk, so he handcuffs him and calls for backup while he runs the plates, licenses, etc... and when the second cop shows up, the response he verbally feeds out the response, which is NOT good:

See it turns out that the plates on the dark-silver/gray Oldsmobile 88 sedan, plate TS-1468 that belongs to "Jacson Smyth" have been suspended...

...AND there is a warrant outstanding for him due to a prior DUI ticket, bail jumping and some other crap I don't recall (for reasons that ought to be, or soon will be obvious).

So the second cop, standing near me (and my car under the streetlight) not seeing the text, but hearing THIS (shouted from some 20+ feet away) as "Jason Smith"* with the dark-silver/gray Olds 88 Sedan, plate number TS-1486 turns around and proceeds to cuff and read rights to ME...

Of course I'm protesting that its NOT me... that MY plates have NOT been suspended, that I've never driven drunk much less been arrested on a DUI, nor can there be any warrant out for me "jumping bail" and I have never even been in jail, much less have I been "out on bail" (to which the cop get's nasty and says, "Well you will be now buddy").

The older couple with me are (of course) frantic and freaking out -- and in many ways are NOT helping, promising to "bail me out" and "get me a good lawyer to fight this", etc -- and at the same time, trying to explain how I was not only sober, known to them for years, but that the accident (remember the accident, yeah that part still needed to be dealt with) was entirely NOT my fault, etc, etc.

Did I also mention that me and the other "Smith/Smyth"* guy were basically the same age, etc? Not exactly dopplegangers (we looked nothing alike) but both about the same height, weight and the same eye, hair color (pretty common in our area) etc. And worse... to further "complicate" matters, we both lives in the same damn small town, on the same damn street (the main drag that ran all the way through town -- we lived on opposite ends of it, he at about equidistant address on he west side of town and me on the east end)...

And then there was the final kicker... our frigging birth dates were like transpositions of each others: me on 6/9/1069, and his on 9/6/1969.

I was still coming out of the frigging "shock" of the accident itself -- I'll admit, I probably HAD "staggered" a bit, and maybe even seemed "out of it" when the first cop got on the scene (and he may have interpreted that as me being drunk or high or something) -- but I think it was just a natural "shock" reaction, because keep in mind given my spot as the driver and him hitting my car on the front right quarter... well to say I had been a "deer in the headlights" and seen my death coming & my life flash before my eyes... would be an understatement -- and meanwhile, while the REAL frigging offender/accident/warrant/problem creator of this entire frigging mess is slumped over "comfortably numb" in the back of the police cruiser (drunk off his arse & oblivious to the world, much less what is going on outside the cop car) so HE'S of no help to me at all -- so with all of that having occurred in a blindingly fast "flash" of time, I am stuck alone, having to try to process and refute, clear up this truly "Kafkaesque" series of confusions & accusations about MY name, MY vehicle license, the warrant, the DUI, and so on...

And of course the cops are not believing me (would you?) ... and shouting the data back to me without really LISTENING to me about this series (of truly insane) coincidences and number transposition name/spelling/pronunciation confusions.

I'm getting exhausted trying to explain and I've almost resigned myself to spending the night in jail, knowing (or at least hoping and praying) that in the sober light of day I can get it all cleared up -- but at the same time dreading/fearing what is going to happen for "confusion" at the frigging JAIL if/when (as seemed likely) they brought us BOTH in at the same time (I could just see the receiving officer/clerks saying "Fuck it... lock 'em both up and let the daytime shift and the judge sort it out tomorrow)...

Yeah... I've almost given up when... HALLELUJAH a third deputy arrives on the scene; and I don't know... maybe it's because he's a set of "fresh eyes", maybe he'd been called in as a "break the tie/end the confusion" officer by the dispatchers... or who knows, maybe it's because time has passed, and I'm over the worst of the "shock" of the accident (and my near death by oncoming car) by now, and even tired out of arguing & somewhat resigned to this fuster-cluck not being resolved even trying... that when this new deputy comes on the scene, he takes in the nearly identical vehicles, the nearly identical license plates, and BEFORE even learning the rest of the fustercluck coincidences/confusions (which he, and eventually ALL of us start laughing about)... he susses out that the "shouting" and the verbal back and forth needs to stop, pulls ALL of us together back at the first cops vehicle and screen and METHODICALLY forces them to look at the licenses & stuff side by side.

So, after somewhere around an half-hour to full hour of a truly "insane" scenario -- I was "saved", uncuffed, let go, told I was NOT under arrest, that yes my vehicle license was fine, there was no warrant out for ME, etc -- with even some half-hearted semi-apologies from the first two officers (cops in my experience will never REALLY apologize for their own mistakes), and a SINCERE "we're VERY sorry" from the (apparently higher ranking or higher seniority) third officer... and all of them (and I suppose "us") chuckling and saying that no one is going to ever believe them (or me) if we try to tell this.

I was also "lucky" in another way... I was actually able to drive my vehicle home; the damage being largely cosmetic. I was also somewhat "unlucky" as (not surprisingly) the other guy was not only driving a vehicle with a suspended license, but with no insurance -- so my "uninsured driver" provision had to take over to pay for the repairs.

Oh, and yes, you better damned believe that vehicle was SOLD THE FUCK OFF as soon as I had it repaired (and then bought an entirely different vehicle for a VERY obscure & distinctive make/model/color of car that was "rare" in our parts -- with entirely new, CUSTOM plates with a distinct license number) .... plus I made certain that 3 months later (when the lease on my apartment ended) I moved my ass to an entirely different town, and quite specifically & intentionally into short little street with only a handful of homes/addresses... doing basically everything I possibly could to create unlikely distinctions so that there would never be even the remotest frigging possibility of that shit happening again.

Alas... about a decade later... there was (yet another, but far LESS problematic, in part because I had learned -- having been through this shit once, I had gotten SOLID legal advice on how to handle future incidents) similar confusion with (yet another, but different) guy with -- I kid you not -- an almost identical name (same name, same spelling this time) & birth date & address... and this time the fucker had a series of felony convictions as well as a sex offender thing. But that's a story for another day.

*Not our real names (so don't bother searching for "Jason Smith" because that's not me) but the principle is the same, the last name is REALLY common in my area (in fact especially if you add in the alternate spellings, it is more common than either "Smith" or "Jones"); and my first name while "odd" isn't exactly rare.

/r/AdviceAnimals Thread Link -