Over at Vin Suprynowicz’s blog, I alluded to a personal encounter with the FBI. He invited me to elaborate. As it happens, I wrote about on an old, old website I used at the time. I did a little searching and found the original file, now reprinted here.
“Somebody said you robbed a bank.”
By Carl Bussjaeger, 1997
So there I am, spending my lunch hour sitting on a bench at Kiener Plaza, just like so any other downtown workers.
But that’s when things got… different.
First, a bicycle cop rode up. He approached me and said, “Somebody said you robbed a bank.” Naturally, this came as something of a surprise to me. He decided that he needed to search me for weapons. Given my usual proclivities, this could have been a problem- while I wasn’t carrying a gun, I wasn’t completely unarmed either.
Not that it mattered. It was one of the worst body searches I’ve ever seen. He didn’t find anything. Then he went for the record in the stupid question category; “So, have you robbed any banks lately?” My reply- “No, I haven’t robbed any banks.”
While that went on, more cops arrived. Between bicyclists, patrol cars, and unmarked cars, they had 12 cops on the scene. Now things got really stupid.
This is Kiener Plaza, where half the downtown Saint Louis work force spends their lunch hour. If the weather is nice (as it was that day), people come out to eat, and to enjoy the sun and scenery. So there were plenty of people relaxing just like me.
So what does the cop ask? “What are you doing out here?” I looked at him as if he were the idiot he appeared to be and answered, “Sitting.” I gestured all around at the other people doing likewise.
“Oh,” he said.
At this point, the detective told me that I matched the description of a bank robber in a case he is investigating. He then called back to the station on his radio to get the description. Brilliant. The answer came back, “Caucasian, brown hair, 6 feet tall, 200 pounds, mid twenties, wearing a blue ball cap.” Hearing this, a uniformed cop muttered, “Damn, that’s half the guys in Saint Louis.”
So, lessee… I’m caucasian, brown hair, 6 feet. I was wearing a blue cap, emblazoned with my company’s logo and name in large white letters (remember this hat). But I’m afraid my mid-20s were a good ten years ago. And 200 pounds was about 20 pounds ago, darn it.
I’m obviously a perfect match with their suspect. Next, the detective tried to figure out my name. I’m accustomed to mispronunciations, but this…
He read my driver’s license and said, “So, Mr Jagger…” Reading skills evidently aren’t high on the list of required job skills for Saint Louis PD detectives.
“That’s Bussjaeger,” I corrected.
“Oh, Jagger,” he said.
“No, Bush-yager,” I again corrected, giving him the pronunciation slowly and clearly.
“Okay, then, Mr Yager…”
“Bush-Yager,” I said again. “Carl Bussjaeger.”
“Oh. Well, Mr Bussjagger…”
Freaking idiot. From there we went through the usual who are you, where do you live, work, park, et cetera.
Then his partner came over and asked the same questions. This guy remembered to write down the answers, though.
Eventually, someone who introduced himself as an FBI agent arrived. “Mr Bussjagger, I’d like to thank you for having to patience to wait here for me…”
I presented him with my best sarcastically dumbfounded expression and said, “Yeah,
right. Like I had a choice.” I gestured at the encircling police. “I’m surrounded by cops.”
“Oh.” He looked puzzled. Then he began questioning me. Not “Where were you on…” or “Can you account for your whereabouts on…” He wanted to know where I lived, worked, parked, et cetera. Again. So I told him. Again.
Work was a problem. He couldn’t seem to get the company name straight. I repeated it several times. He kept mispronouncing it, and jumbling words. Finally, he asked, “How’s that spelled?” I just stared at him, then pointed to my incriminating ball cap (I told you to remember that key piece of evidence against me), still perched on my head. At that point, even the cops started laughing at him.
“Oh.” The FBI obviously has a maximum IQ requirement for its agents. He proceeded to copy the company name from my cap, glancing up at the cap for each individual letter, which he carefully wrote, one at a time- one glance, one character.
Then he wanted to know who I lived with. “Nobody,” I told him.
He frowned. “Nobody?”
“Right. Nobody. I live alone.”
“Huh?” He looked confused.
We went around that for awhile; I can only assume that living alone violates some feddie law or reg.
Eventually, they let me go. After questioning me for the better part of an hour. But none of the questions ever related to any robbery. Other than the stupid question of whether I had robbed any banks lately, I was never asked anything that would properly pertain to a robbery investigation. Maybe some day, I will finally find out what this was really about.
But I was publicly embarrassed by being accosted, questioned, and photographed in Kiener Plaza. I was definitely inconvenienced. And seriously pissed off.
But I never received an explanation or apology. Only the FBI agent ever gave his name. Of the uniformed officers, only two wore name tags. I made a note of those: Cox and Rozier.
Taking this as an example of the skill and professionalism of the Saint Louis police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, I can only assume that the real bank robber (if there was one) can continue about his business in perfect safety.
And they wonder why they get no respect…
And for the record, some 21 years later, I have never found out what the hell that was all about.