I mentioned that I’d cover this a while back, and I haven’t gotten around to it. I’m in recovery from yet another heated chemistry lecture (I never knew a hard science class could be this chock-full of fury) so I figured I’d take a shot at a light-hearted topic: The Car. The FBI car.

So every FBI agent, with the exception of those who work in headquarters (abbreviated FBIHQ) in DC (because they don’t do field work. Those at Washington Field Office [WFO] are not included in this group) get a car. A Very Special car, for their Very Important Jobs. These cars can go from home, to the office, to home, on a fairly direct line. They cannot deviate from this path unless the SA is also going to interview someone. They CAN stop somewhere *if* it’s on the way from home to office, so, for instance, there is a grocery store between our home and DB’s office, and he can occasionally stop there for things we might need. If we need dog food, well, that’s essentially my responsibility. Or his, if we run out on a weekend.

The only people who can ride in the car are employees of the federal government. That includes, but are not limited to, his coworkers, the secretarial staff in his office, the assistant US attorneys (AUSAs)…etc. Certainly not spouses, unless the spouse is an employee of the federal government. There’s a guy in DB’s office whose wife works for, like, the US Department of Transportation or something, and she gets to ride in the car. There’s only a tiny bit of jealousy on my part about that, except that I think about what that kind of job would mean, and I realize I’m being dumb.

You can also ride in the car if you’re a witness to something. I was once a witness to something, and I almost peed in my pants with excitement at the thought that I might get to ride in the car. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Shucks.

The penalties for breaching any of these rules are HARSH. It is harsher than the penalty for an accidental discharge from his GUN. If caught using the car for personal use, DB will lose his AVP – his availability pay, which is 25% of his salary, for a year, PLUS he will get a 30 day suspension. Needless to say, we do not breech this policy. Needless to say, there are some morons in the agency that do, they get caught, and it is not good.

The reason this is the case – that he cannot deviate, and no one can ride in the car – is because Congress passed a LAW forbidding this. It has something to do with the tax liability of the car. I will not be able to explain this well, so I’m not going to try. Just let it rest that this is the way it is.

The car is like the forbidden fruit.

Frankly, it’s not even all that cool. APPARENTLY, some of the cars smell, and some of them are so old that they have manual locks and no A/C. It gets hot here in the summer, and to have no A/C kind of sucks. DB somehow got lucky, and scored a nice car, but that meant that he had to pick up every important person who came to town, and transport every felon he arrested (because there was enough space for a handcuffed person to be in the car). So having a nice car isn’t that great, either.

It is my personal opinion that Congress had no idea what it was doing when it passed this law banning all personal use of the Bureau vehicle. Here’s an example: I explained, for instance, that I had a major medical scare at one point when DB was overseas. His colleague came to pick me up. I got kicked out of discharged from the hospital in the afternoon, so his colleague was still at work. In order to pick me up (keeping in mind I was still wheelchair-bound), his colleague had to drive home in his Bureau car, pick up his personal vehicle, drive back to the hospital (basically near the office), get me, drive home, pick up the Bureau car, and then drive back to the office. Waste of resources much?

Or, another one (this one is obviously hypothetical): Say I am pregnant, and DB has to go to work, and I go into labor. The hospital is not on the way home. DB has to drive home and take a TAXI to the hospital, or leave his car at work and hitchhike to the hospital. Or some other method that involves not bringing that d@mn Bu-car to the hospital. By the time he rolls in, the kid might have already entered the world. Can you imagine the oh-so-friendly chit-chat that takes place if he rolls in right as the baby is crowning?

So it is a bit of a pain, this car. I might actually put the car in the category of “top reasons the Bureau challenges one’s marriage or social life”, because it actually makes life rather difficult. As a rule, that car needs to be in the immediate vicinity of the agent at *most* hours of the night, in case of an emergency (and yes, DB has had to go out in the middle of the night to case some joint. Usually this happens when we are supposed to be going out of town. Do not ask me how this happens – it just does. The bad guys ALWAYS know when we are heading out of town!). So leaving the car at work and taking the public transit home is an option occasionally, but it isn’t something we can always do – and it is *NEVER* an option in most American cities.

So there you have it! The ins and outs of the Bu-car. 🙂 It only took me about 2 months to write this!