Features Nov 19, 2014 at 4:00 am

It Wasn't for Any Good Reason, It Was for the Dumbest Reason Imaginable

Mike Force


I am so impressed. That is the best piece of writing I've seen in ages.
A tiny quibble- the part where you say you were shitting yourself. Up to that point you were free from hyperbole, we felt we had a reliable narrator. It is such a dramatic expression that if you were actually shitting yourself you needed another sentence to emphasize it, bring the reader along, or if not to clue the reader it was figurative.
But other than that- wonderfully well-crafted story.
Great piece of writing because:

It's so damn linear, it's very entertaining, I get a sense of what the writer is really thinking, and we can all learn from it.

A number of bad decisions were made; the most important one DON'T TALK TO THE POLICE (Look it up on Youtube). They ask you questions for two reasons. Reason #1 is to admit that you violated the law. Reason # 2 is to get you to lie - a crime, on it's own. We learned from Martha Stewart, you don't have to tell them the truth, but don't lie.

"Is your name Kristina Kunz?" It was. That's my maiden name. He said, "Do you have a small tattoo on your left shoulder?" If you felt the need to reply, "Respectfully, thank you for asking", would have sufficed, and saved you a lot of anguish.

Nothing personal, just a note of caution, for those that will come after you. Thanks.
I agree. I read the whole thing with interest, mainly because you were so wiling to convey what a complete dumbass you were.
@3 l.t. Burns - I think she was referring to Kunz being her maiden name because she has married since the events in this story, seeing as her name is currently Rowley. I assume at the time her last name really was Kunz.
Ooooh, a whole 9 hours. Shoulda just taken the ticket for being a (typical) terrible Seattle driver.
Wow I have done a lot of dumb things but they have generally been tightly contained bursts of dumb things, not escalating the measurable consequences from one to the next over the time the author had. I feel for her but I feel better about myself too...
Very, very funny.

Though if I was your lawyer I'd... immediately fire myself from being your lawyer.
I feel like this story encapsulates the ethic of the Seattle driver. Cause an accident, flee, maybe the cops will find you, maybe they won't.
I enjoyed this! I have also had those moments of future dread and then to have it settle and happen, such a relief.
People who find this story quaint probably haven't had someone hit their parked vehicle doing thousands of dollars in damage before driving off into the night never to be seen again.
A fascinating story about the power of denial.
Beautiful piece Tina.
I'm not going to pass any sort of moral judgment on the writer. That's really not my role in life. But I am willing to critique the writing: wow, the author can weave a good yarn. Keep on writing!
One of those "what the hell was that person thinking" moments torn open to show what "that person" was thinking.

Stranger? I loved it. More well-written slice of real life, please.
I'm a criminal defense attorney, and I genuinely enjoyed that article. Over the years, I have gotten so used to having clients hauled off to jail that I sometimes forget how intense an experience it can be. (Especially to those who do not visit regularly.) On court papers, this case would look as routine and run-of-the-mill as they come. You did a great job capturing the impression this "run-of-the-mill" situation had on you as you went through it. Thanks for that.
An excellent piece of writing. Your relationship to that mailed warrant is particularly nicely characterized; I've played that game with various frightening Things I Need To Deal With But Don't Want To, living in that extended state of quiet dread.
Agreed. It was tough to stop reading / watching the train wreck. I could imagine that scene at the airport.

I had a two close calls yesterday with drivers who maybe don't know a car has turn signals. I've learned to expect to see no signal whatsoever and watch for swerving while the driver looks for a turn or parking spot. It's insane in Seattle.
Great article! Reminds me of my teens and early twenties, multiple warrants for my arrest and not a care in the world!

And then I get popped. Jail totally sucks.

Yeah, you're right, it's so much easier to walk through life blinding categorizing people as "good guys" and "bad guys". Who wants to see the humanity in any decision a human might make anyway?
@20, I always enjoy the "it's not a turn signal, it's a signal that I'm going to scout for street parking and then back up to parallel park even though the RCW says I can't reverse in a road if it disrupts the flow of traffic".
Women drivers.

I give them plenty of berth.
Twenty. Nine. Years. Old.

Just think on it. 29! It's not a misprint. She's was not 19 years old. She was a decade older than that. Twenty nine!

You're a good writer. Your main character is a bad person.

I just read this in the paper edition at dinner. It was both poignant and hilarious. Great writing!
At "I got biscuits and gravy" I full on snort-laughed causing my cat to freak the fuck out and bolt for the other room.
Some of the best writing I've seen on Slog in ages. I hope there's a chapter two. Please write more.
Stupid story. Stupid person. Typical idiot person living in Seattle...I should say, typical idiot WHITE person living in Seattle who never gives the law one thought because she's so wonderful and innocent and her shit smells like beautiful orchids. I couldn't even read past the first two paragraphs as it was so "Woe is me, I'm such a sweet little girl who can't be bothered by the TAWDRYNESS of real life". Blecch! Pardon me while I go vomit chunks.
@11 & 31 - Amen.

Funny to read this account, as a recent victim of a hit and run. I have a plate number and it's near impossible for SPD to give a damn. It's too bad for The author that she didn't hit a car in 2014, she might have been off scot free.
AWWWWWWWWW, the title of this story could be: "Hello Kitty Goes to Jail".
It's hard to feel anything other than irritation for someone so spoiled, shallow, and entitled.
I didn't think I was going to like this article, thinking it was going to be about some boring entitled hipster, but read it anyway.
I kept reading, it was great. Loved the way you owned the wrongness.
I have an issue like that, the quiet dread. Mine's not nearly so potentially consequential, but it's still a little scary. Great reminder to go deal with my shit, thank you.

I have a tattoo I got like that too! Same story, only it wasn't a cat in a hat.

Funny, I give men drivers wide berth. They are responsible for almost all cases of road rage related accidents, and DUI fatalities. Look at the statistics.
@26 - That was my reaction too. Pretty late in life to realize the rules apply to you.
These articles always chive me off. Firstly, whenever anyone "comes clean" about past misdeeds, it always comes off as if they handwaiving it away. (maybe that says more about me than the writing). Look at how bad I am and how little penalty I paid! Look how I took no responsibility for shit at any time and STILL it only cost me less than 12 hours of time, teehee! Fuck you, asshole, i've spent more time in jail for being a WITNESS to a crime.

I'd love to see a guy write this article and see if there are a bunch of kudos. I'd love to read this article if the writer were black instead of white and had to serve the full sentence (364 days in jail!). I'd love if when people did shit like this the only thing they felt was SHAME and EMBARRASSMENT that they never, ever, got to live down, like it is for most of us.
@39 "I was just like everybody else, a trackable citizen. I was subject to rules, it turned out. I was visible. People could see me. I was real"

That's a low-ass bar for "taking responsibility"
While it was an entertaining article - I too have to agree with 11, 26, 31, 32, 37, 39, etc. What an entitled snob.

Also, what did the cops do, call every tattoo shop in town and ask them for info on any customers that may have fit the description? I can't imagine any tattoo artists cooperating there.
Entertaining. I'm just glad that it's never claimed that any of the consequences were undeserved.

It takes a lot of guts to admit that at 29 you were just starting to understand that rules applied to you.
I guess it was entertaining, but I found myself seething with hatred by the time we got to the dumbassery about the biscuits and gravy. Anyone who misses a court date for a boy should be too ashamed ever to admit such a thing.

If I had a friend act like this, I'd have to stop talking to them because I would have a stroke just being around this nonsense.

How in the hell did this person get married and have a boyfriend? How did this person obtain a car? Can she tie shoes? Count to 100? I'm really confused about how Tina made it to 29 and older without choking on her own tongue or something.
Beautifully written, and very entertaining. And you know, given that you're owning up to having been a little sheltered, and this being the result of a convergence of bad judgments, let me apologize on behalf of humanity that the internet is apparently made of assholes.

You know, guys ... a lot of us who didn't really understand how hard the rules could come down on us until later than we should have didn't realize that because we'd never broken them; it wasn't so much that we ignored the rules until it caught up with us as it was that we found it easier to obey them ... until those moments when we didn't. We never developed any skills for disobedience, or for dealing with infractions, when we were young enough for it to be considered "acceptable" (whatever the fuck that means).

And yeah, we probably had some sort of (white/middle-class/good-looking/aw-shucks) privilege working for us, too, but we didn't know much about that at the time. And the flip side of that kind of privilege is that you're told, fairly early and fairly often, that doing anything wrong will mean that you'll pump gas and die lonely and poor and unrecognized, and you develop the habit of keeping your head down and your nose clean. As often as not, our earnest obedience led to our future stupidity. Hopefully, we learned enough from the mistakes we did make before we've done any genuine harm. Though, of course, there's always more room for error.

Good, and next time, hang up and drive.
man, I hope your parents realise how badly they fucked up in raising you.
Part of me has always thought that jails were society's way of rounding up stupid people. The story covers that.
@23 That's what they teach you to do in driving school. The only thing that the person might be doing wrong is not waiting for you to either stop or go around. Or do you think the law means that they have to give you the spot because you got there second?

What the fuck slog. This is basically a Tour de Force of White Privilege and most of the comments here are patting her on the back. What the fuck? Why aren't we excoriating the Slog/Stranger folks who ran this for their blatant and frankly inexcusable lack of vision/oversight? Where's the intellectual honesty and consistency?
Reminds me of a moment in the movie “As Good As It Gets”...

Receptionist: How do you write women so well?

Melvin Udall: I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability.
Oh, man. Hilariously painful to read, from a fellow let-things-slide kinda gal. Great piece.
@11, did anyone call this piece "quaint?" It's a damn fine piece of writing, not because of the right- or wrongness of her actions, but because she clearly and hilariously communicates the mindset of a lovely but irresponsible person who is probably a lot of fun, but just doesn't take care of her shit... she's willing to live with that constant undercurrent of dread until the shit hits the fan. Enjoying the writing is not the same as approving of hit-and-run drivers.

@1, your "tiny quibble" really is tiny. Is it worth sullying your admiration? I think not.
@31, damn, this piece really upset you, considering you didn't read it.
@54 yet somehow she summed it up very nice.

@53 there is 0 in this piece to describe the author as "lovely". I wonder where you picked that assumption up from?
@55 - I happen to think she's lovely.
@50 Just because the author may have benefited from white privilege, I fail to see why the story can't be told. Where is your outrage coming from? No, I'm serious. I don't understand why this story warrants your level of outrage.
@42 - I'm going to venture someone got her license plate as well as the tattoo description. So the cop was verifying as the owner of the vehicle (license plate), she was also at the accident (tattoo).
If you are at least one of the members of the following American demographic groups, then, in a way, you are already in jail: Non-White; of the Lower Class; a member of the World-wide Political Left. --- http://www.inequality.org & http://www.nbufront.org & http://www.broadleft.org/us/htm .
@57 - I think some of the anger regarding this story stems from the fact that she could have fucking killed someone. If she ran away to avoid dealing with a couple of angry drivers, how would she have dealt with a dead body. She acted in an irresponsible, entitled way and shows no contrition over her actions. Good writing skills do not absolve her.
@60 - You don't imagine that almost anyone would be mortified into compliance by the presence of a dead body?

Every time we make an ill-advised traffic move (or any of a number of seemingly insignificant decisions), we could kill someone; given that most humans will make at least one such move in any given period of time (some drivers more often than others, sadly), it's our good fortune that, most of the time, we don't.

She didn't run away from a dead body. She ran away from the scene of a non-fatal accident. She shoulda stayed. She got caught. I suppose we could quibble over whether leaving the scene of a non-fatal, apparently non-injurious fender-bender "deserves" more than a night in jail, but she didn't "get away with it," per se, and the piece as written, which fully satires the arrested adolescent in the person of the 29-year-old agonist, strikes me as contrite.
Thanks for writing this. I went through the whole piece up to the run in with the police thinking, yes. These are reasonable reactions. Then I realized-- I am 29. MY tags are out of date. This could happen to anyone or even me! I feel that if we knew one another, that we would be friends.
"I had this idea, all day, that if I was really polite and cooperative, that all of this could come to an end at any moment. That somebody in authority was going to be charmed by my fine attitude and pliability" white people are really annoying sometimes. Yeah, if you commit a crime like this you deserve to be in jail.
@-22 noooo YOU'RE right, the right kind of white people can just do whatever the hell they want without regard for anyone else just like because humanity if problematicwhatever...
#5 - Thanks for your reply, regrets for the late response. I was quoting from the article, the point I was making is....Don't talk to the police - it will do you NO good. PLEASE, please look for the youtube video. Best Regards, Burns :)
#53- Yes, it is tiny and if I had known I would be the first of a huge number of comments I wouldn't have mentioned it. I wasn't paying attention and read this brilliant piece that had NO responses. Like most writers I expect to pour my heart and soul into a piece, launch it out into the world, and usually... the world shrugs. So I thought if such a wonderfully well-written piece was going to just scroll right off the front page I would just give some honest first-impression gut reaction feedback
@56, @57, @60

I'm upset because it's not only a wistful reminiscence of a time when being white really helped her out of a jam that she created by doing literally the least human shit she could do [things more important that doing the right thing and taking responsibility: lipstick, jackets, friends visiting from out of town] and "our" society giving her basically no penalty; is that the same society is busy punishing me more forcefully for literally going out of my to do the right thing despite having no legal obligation to do so and not having done anything wrong.

And then, most of the SLOG audience thinking the story is so well told and quaint and isn't she lovely. Gimme a fucking break, SLOG prides itself on being so progressive and not-racist but are just as blind to is all these uneducated poor rural people they denigrate so readily.
This explains a lot of rich white girl behavior.
Great writing from a stupid person. I now understand a little better how GWB was elected twice.
I'm not sure I'd like to see the stories written by men about the time they had a drunken sexcapade and realized later that they'd evaded a rape charge for years.
Why the hell does The Stranger think reposting their worst stories 4 days later somehow gives them extra credence? Especially when they're too lazy to give it a new comments section, so everybody can see it is just a hollow rehashing of the same drivel?

This "story" never should have seen the print edition once, much less print and online twice. If this is what passes for news these days we're screwed. We'll never solve any world level problems like hunger, disease or war if we're hand wringing over one person's actions in a completely different millenia.

Seriously, where the hell is people's perspective? This isn't even a puff piece. A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing is more worthwhile than this story.
You reallllly like yourself, dontcha. The last thing she's doing is taking responsibility, she's more like, "omg, guys, wasn't I sooooo cute and funny. Can you even believe I did this! "

@67: You're angry because you totally and completely missed the point. The story isn't wistful, it's confessional. It's about being young and stupid and naive and entitled, and by implication growing out of it.

I think you're assuming that nobody would tell a story where they weren't a sympathetic character, which says more about you that the author, the piece, or the commenters. Many of us are perfectly capable of recognizing and rejecting stupidity in our past. People are responding to the author doing a good job of doing just that.
I'm glad she realized her best interests with the law rely on behaving like a "visible" and "trackable" person. Too bad she apparently still doesn't realize her transcending responsibility to the drivers she bailed on. I wouldn't necessarily expect a higher sense of morel responsibility from her than the majority who's better nature is motivated by laws that enforce it. But a more hollistic retrospect might reveal the fuller benefit to self by simply doing the right thing. This very well crafted piece shows a work in progress, let's hope.
74 comments and I'm the only one who is bothered by the main mystery of this story? What the hell happened to the roommate she was supposed to pick up at the airport? She's the one we should feel sorry for. While her irresponsible friend was on her way to jail, she was stranded at the airport waiting for a ride that wasn't coming and no way to find out where she was. Which was longer, her time in jail or the time her roommate was stranded at the airport?
It's possible I missed it in the previous 75 comments but I thought I would remind Tina that if she applies for a job or whatever, and there's a box that says "Have you ever been arrested?", you get to check the "Yes" box.

The piece was well written and a good reminder that if you get one of those icky pieces of paper from a court, it's a really, really good idea to not ignore it!
The next time the author bumps into Dan Savage in the hallowed halls of The Stranger, she should ask him for a definition of "How'd that happen?". Because this article just drips with it.

It must be nice to get all the way to age 29 before finally getting the basic life lesson that actions have consequences.
This reads like one of the more forgettable stories on This American Life. Mildly interesting person telling a mildly interesting story. Worth reading, but only barely.

Also, it must be nice going through life without feeling responsibility for your actions.
The chain of events belies the intelligence of the writing. Loved the cosmic humor too. Nicely done Tina!

as for some of the comments here... well, I can only wish them a scintilla of the authors humor.

Which is by no means a white privilege. And it makes life go down just a bit easier no matter who you are.

Reading some of the comments I found myself asking:

How old are you that you feel the need to put someone else down to make yourself feel better?

that you can't distinguish a well written story from reality?

that you can't live and let live?

that you can't be civil in the comment section?
I wonder if this story would come off better if told orally, as I can see some humor in it being related to friends or an audience.

In written form, not so much.

Who - at age 29 - doesn't know that you do NOT walk/drive away from a traffic accident? Ever.

I'm not going to interpret the rest of her actions in terms of various types of privilege, because they're just plain STUPID from a 29-year-old.

Author: You deserved everything you fucking got. You have ben found guilty of the crime of assholism.

"you committed a crime which costs society money so we are going to store you in a building notorious for hemorrhaging tax dollars cause were so damn broke!"

jail sucks. id rather be sent to a state run farm than sit in a dungeon wondering weather i should wash my socks n undies in the sink or go back to sleep for the 19 hour in a row. in all honesty, id rather get lashes than sit in jail. at least the lashes don't cost money or time and some old nihilist fuck doesn't make a dollar off you.
@75 - That was totally my first thought after finishing the story as well. What about the friend?!?
I hope this is fiction, or somehow intended as self-flagellation, because the level of narcissistic shittiness in this piece is off the charts.

You don't imagine that almost anyone would be mortified into compliance by the presence of a dead body?

Considering how many hit-and-runs involve a seriously injured, dying, or dead victim, no, I don't think that. Why do you?

What really takes the cake in those incidents is that hitting and running will always result in worse legal penalties than remaining at the scene. What the hit-and-run driver is counting on is the authorities not being able to find him/her. And many aren't caught.

So, yes, they all deserve to die in a fire. Thanks for asking.
@70 exactly [fwiw, i wouldn't "like to" see those stories for my enjoyment, just to see how the SLOG community reacts to them].

@80 she deserved a lot more than what she got. She got off easier than people who don't do anything wrong.

@73 - no, you're missing the point. The story is only confessional because now, 15 years later, there are no consequences; the focus of the piece is her experience, not her guilt. There are still no consequences. That's the beating heart of white privilege/her privilege - the consequences that apply to the rest of us don't apply and can be laughed off; but certainly, suffering consequences is off the table; as would be changing her behavior - say, vowing not to duck the responsibility our culture is so willing to to excuse her of.

There's basically no defending this story. One only needs to go back to read The Stranger's own How Privilege Protects You to see the irony.
You & every other empty-headed braindead wannabe glam-hipster/yuppie nihilist are why I hate this city and so many of the 20 to 30-somethings living in it.

Its bad enough dealing with your type for just seconds or minutes. But I literally got a firsthand look & had to occupy 1 of these horrifically demented & feeble minds in charge of the g*ddamn whole entitled creature causing all the mess.

You were (and judging by your self-indulgent & "cute" idiotic banter about it all) and most likely still are a worthless, irresponsible, self I centered obnoxiously idiotic waste of space and earthly resources.

Please never speak in public in earshot of strangers who don't deserve suffering through this type of obnoxious BS in person.
Actually I think it's crazy that someone can have a warrant out for your arrest for missing an arraignment for something as petty as a minor car accident, and then end up in such a jail or worse. Bad shit can happen to people in jail like sexual assault and some of it just sounds mentally jarring. Much worse than a little dent on a car sometimes. It can cause someone to lose their job and damage to reputation etc. And for what, something you wouldn't be getting away with whether or not you are in jail?

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