Around eight months ago, EA Games sent me a pouch of novelty garden seeds to promote Plants vs. Zombies 2. Like every other piece of video game pap that lands on my desk, it got tossed in my bag and swiftly forgot about -- until a drug detection dog mistook them for marijuana. This is the story of the hilarity that didn't ensue...
For reasons known only to itself, NSW Police decided to launch a drug crackdown last Wednesday night at Sydney's central train station. (Seriously. who's looking to get high on a Wednesday?) As luck would have it, I happened to be among the great unwashed who were wearily trudging home from work in the midst of the operation.
As I passed the sniffer dog, I immediately knew something was up: it took a whiff at my bag and then kind of zeroed its snout towards my jeans pocket (worryingly close to my crotch, I might add). Before I could say anything, a second police officer sprang out of nowhere and informed me that they had reason to believe I had an illicit drug on my person.
They were so sure I was carrying, I even got the whole "anything you say can be used against you in court" spiel. (For the record, I wasn't carrying drugs and haven't been within toking distance of a joint in almost a decade.)
The pair of cops corralled me into a corner near the CityLink staircase and proceeded to ask me about my drug habits: did I have any drugs on my person? Had I recently smoked cannabis? Had I been around people who had been smoking cannabis? Bemused, I answered in the negative each time.
Meanwhile, my train was due to arrive any minute, which caused me to repeatedly glance at my phone's clock. This probably made me look shifty and nervous, as opposed to a guy who just wanted to get home on time. One of the cops eventually ordered me to place my phone on the floor.
Over the next twenty minutes, the following things happened:
- I was made to hand over my licence and contact details, presumably for some police data base of ne'er-do-wells.
- I was ordered to empty the contents of my pockets and take my shoes off. This was annoying, as it was cold.
- I was then forced to stand spreadeagled against a wall while one of the police officers patted me down in full view of the public. (Admittedly, this did make me feel pretty badass.)
This is the dog that fingered me.
I have no idea whether any of this treatment was a violation of my civil rights. But you tend to just go with the flow when multiple police officers are telling you to do stuff. Meanwhile, hundreds of fellow commuters were gawping at me as they walked past, just as I've often done myself. Until that moment, I'd always assumed the guy getting patted down probably had something to hide.
After some clinical groping and waistband fiddling, the police decided to go through my bag. This was the moment when I really started to worry -- and not because I was stashing anything illegal. Y'see, my bag is like a loot-filled rucksack from the worst RPG ever -- it's stuffed to the gills with all manner of weird junk, some of which dates back to the early '90s.
I had to watch in embarrassed silence as they pulled out an old Amiga Power magazine from 1994, an Avengers Vs. X-Men graphic novel, a Leap Motion controller, old bills, old socks, a macaron stuffed inside a muesli bar box and a Loreal face cream for men (look, it was just a phase I was going through. Shut up.) Inexplicably, they also found a black cape. I have no idea where this came from or how it got in my bag.
Finally, one of the police officers found something that gave him pause. It was a small drawstring bag exuding a slightly leafy smell.
"Wanna score? I got whatchoo need!"
"What's this?", one of the cops asked with obvious suspicion in his voice. His partner sidled closer, presumably to block off my escape.
At first, I hadn't the faintest clue what I was staring at. (My look of dumbfounded confusion probably didn't paint me in the most innocent light, I'm guessing.) After a few seconds of making squinty constipation faces, I finally remembered what the bloody thing was.
"Er, they're seeds," I blurted out weakly. "...Normal seeds. Not drug seeds."
The police officers dubiously examined the tiny bag and its psychedelic looking contents. There followed a truly awful moment as they conferred to decide my fate. There was talk of a more "extensive" search, which could only mean one thing: thanks to Plants Vs. Zombies 2, a policeman was going to deflower my rosebud. Tch.
Thankfully, after a few nail-biting moments the cops decided to drop the matter and sent me on my way. They even let me keep my magic beans. Hurrah!
The moral to the story is that some sniffer dogs don't know their nose from their arsehole. Either that, or EA needs to stop using video game paraphernalia for drug trafficking. [He's joking of course -- Legal Dept.]