Anybody who reads this blog regularly won’t be surprised, when I admit that in ways, I am a rather “unusual” person.
But if you think I’m that way now, well you should have seen what I was like back in my early 20s. I’m a model of stability now, compared to how I was during my misspent youth.
Let me tell you a story as a case in point.
Back when I was 22 years old, I was driving to work one morning and running slightly late. Chronic lateness has always been a problem for me, and someday I’ll probably be late for my own funeral. I’ve often thought that it would be really cool to pre-record my own liturgy for my funeral and have them play it during the service. I’d try to make it really funny, so that for one last time, I could make my audience die laughing, even though I’m no longer living. I think that I might actually do it.
But I digress… As I was saying, I was running late for work that morning, so when I saw the traffic start to back up on the highway a short distance before my exit for the Mass Turnpike, I decided to shoot the break down lane to avoid getting stuck in the traffic. I only needed about two hundred yards driving the break down lane to make my exit, so although I knew this was illegal, I thought it was worth the gamble, and the odds were in my favor.
Guess again… Almost immediately, I saw the flashing blue lights of a Mass State Trooper in my rear view mirror, and I knew I was busted. But when the State Trooper appeared at my drivers side window, I was surprised to see that she was Ms. State Trooper, so she was “busted” too.
I’d really love to tell you that Ms. State Trooper was this really Hot Babe Cop, cause that’s been a fantasy of mine, but I think I’ll just be honest and tell the truth. She wasn’t butt ugly, but she sure wasn’t beautiful, and she was very mannish looking. Just not a Hot Babe Cop fantasy figure for me at all. So now I was feeling very unlucky. Not only had I lost my gamble for my short run in the break down lane and got busted, but I got busted by a female cop who looked like a guy! Some mornings just really suck…
Would this have been too much to ask? Life can be very unfair!
But my bad luck was only just beginning, because after checking my license and registration, Ms. State Trooper who looked like a guy, asked me to get out of my car so she could frisk me (while I was silently cursing my luck again) and put me in handcuffs. She read me my rights, and then informed me that I was under arrest for an outstanding warrant, due to a moving violation ticket I had neglected to pay.
Soon I was in the back of her cruiser and being taken for a ride to the county courthouse. Upon arrival, I was escorted through a rear entrance to the bottom floor, where I was taken down a hallway that led to a jail cell and I was locked in it.
You might think that I’d be very upset at this point, but you’d be wrong. I’d never been in jail before, and being someone who is often intrigued by new experiences, I thought it was kinda cool. I had the jail cell to myself, so I didn’t have to worry about any consequences of being locked up with criminal roommates, and as I thought about it, I really didn’t want to go to work anyway. And now I had an excuse that I knew no one at work would think I was faking, cause I was pretty sure that I’d have some documentation I could show them as proof.
My supervisor at work had the personality of a Marine Drill Sergeant, and I had the personality of someone who was more like George Carlin, so he and I mixed about as well as oil and water. Which is why when I thought about how I was missing in action from work that morning, I suddenly thought I should give my supervisor a call. This idea really appealed to me, because it appealed to my sense of humor. I was smiling at just the thought of Dave’s reaction when I called to tell him that I couldn’t come to work, because I was in jail.
Although Dave was my supervisor, and he could make my working life difficult at times, he still had no authority to fire me, since only the owner of the company I worked for could fire anyone. I was on very good terms with the owner of the company, because I was one of his most productive salesmen, and he knew that I was consistently making him money. But as far as Dave was concerned, I represented everything that that he hoped and prayed that his own son would never become; an irresponsible, irreverent wise-ass liberal, who was probably also a commie.
As far as I was concerned, Dave was an uptight, intolerant, repressive and humorless asshole. He was the type of guy that I enjoyed annoying when he went out of his way to give me a hard time, by replying with subtly sarcastic and vaguely insulting comments, and seeing how far I could push him before I crossed the line, to the point he got angry enough to complain to my boss. My boss seldom took Dave’s complaints about me seriously, because my boss liked me, and I was still making him lots of money. Except for Dave, I got along well with everyone else who worked there. It was a fun and enjoyable employment situation for me.
So as I sat there in my jail cell, I debated whether or not I should use my one and only phone call for the “amusement guaranteed” experience of calling Dave to tell him I wasn’t at work because I was in jail. Everyone else I knew was also working at this hour, except for my mother, who didn’t live far away. But unlike Dave, I knew that it would be no fun to call my mother, and it would just upset her.
So I requested to exercise my right to make my one phone call, and my supervisor Dave, would be my choice. I was already grinning from ear to ear when they handed me the phone.
Me: “Hello, Dave? It’s Chris.”
Dave: “Where the hell are you?! It’s flippin’ 9:30 and you’re supposed get your ass in here at 8 o’clock!”
Me: “Well now that’s a good question, Dave, and I’m glad that you asked me, because it has an unusual and interesting answer, instead of the more typical and less interesting explanations.” (already struggling, trying not to laugh)
Dave: “Just cut the flippin’ crap and get to the point! I’m trying to run a business here!”
Me: “Well ya see Dave, I’ve been detained… this lady State Trooper, well, she took a special interest in me, and then she got into the cop bondage thing with the handcuffs after feeling me up, and she took me for a ride. I asked her if we were going to a motel for some extra special fun and excitement, but instead she took me to a jail, which is where I am right now, as I speak.
Dave: “You gotta be shitting me! You’re in jail and you’re calling me?!”
Me: “Yeah, isn’t that wild? I told you it wouldn’t be a boring excuse Dave, and I think you’ll agree with me, cause you gotta admit that this is a new one, and just not the same old shit at all. (starting to laugh now – can’t help it)
Dave: “You’re in fuckin’ jail and you’re laughing about it?! Well GOOD! I hope they throw away the fuckin’ key!”
Me: “Now Dave, that was unkind to say that, at least I think so. Maybe I should speak with the boss, since it sounds like you’re feeling yourself right now… Oh, sorry Dave, I meant to say that it sounds like you’re not feeling yourself right now.” (laughing even more)
Dave: “Marty isn’t here right now and I don’t have time for this shit! Have fun in jail, ya flippin’ weirdo!” (slams down phone-end of call)
“I love you too, Dave.” I said to the dial tone. But now I had a problem, because I thought that my boss Marty, would be able to arrange for somebody to bail me out. But I didn’t get to talk to Marty, and blew my one and only phone call on “fun with Dave”. I just wasn’t catching the breaks at all, as my morning continued to be unlucky.
But I still wasn’t upset, because at least the phone call with Dave had lived up to my expectations, as far as being a unique and amusing experience, even if he didn’t think so. So I decided to take a break from being concerned about being stuck in a jail cell, and pass some time by reading the extensive selection of graffiti on the cell walls. There was so much of it, that apparently no one ever bothered to remove it or paint over it.
The stuff that previous visitors had written on the walls wasn’t exactly on the level of the wit and wisdom of Mark Twain or Oscar Wilde, but some of it was still interesting to me, because hey, it wasn’t every day that I got to read jail cell graffiti, which as I think about it now, is a good thing, and I hope that trend always continues.
But after reading the collective written self expression on all three cell walls, (reading blog posts on WordPress is much better) now I was getting restless, and I began to think about how I might get out of jail. If you’ve never been there, jail is an interesting place to visit, and having a private cell is a plus, but like most people, I decided that I didn’t want to stay there for very long after the novelty wore off.
Looking through the bars in front of me, I saw that there was a guy in civilian clothes working at a desk, about 30 feet across from me. I briefly smiled as I thought about working a job that involved sharing office space with a county jail cell, but I concluded that he’d probably been at it for a while, and by now he was used to it. I still had my wallet with me, since the local police hadn’t bothered with any kind of procedure when Ms. State Trooper brought me in, but just put me in the jail cell as soon as I arrived. This gave me an idea, so I called out to the man at the desk to ask him a question.
“Excuse me, sir! Can I ask you a question?”
“What do you want?” the man asked in reply. I asked “If have enough money with me, can I just pay off my fines and get out of here?”
“Sure!” answered the man. “But most people don’t have enough money to pay the fines and get out.”
“Can you find out how much money my fines are?” I asked. “Sure!” the man answered. “Give me about 15 minutes.” At least he seemed like the helpful type. He got up from his desk and walked down the hallway, out of my sight.
I was feeling optimistic that I would have enough money to pay the fines, because I had been playing poker with a group of friends the night before. Since both the cards and Lady Luck had been good to me, I had a really good match, so I had about $450 dollars in cash in my wallet.
The man was away for more like half an hour than 15 minutes, but hey, he was working a municipal job and it’s to be expected. Besides, I was about the last person who should complain about somebody else being later than he said he’d be, with my own track record for tardiness. When the man returned, he had some paperwork in his hands, and looking at me, he said “Well Mr. Sheridan, if you can produce $150 dollars in cash, then you can walk right out of here.”
I smiled broadly back at him and said, “I think I can do that.” and then asked “Do I get a receipt?”
“You give me $150 dollars, and I’ll be happy to give you a receipt. I’ll even stamp it as ‘PAID’ for you.” answered the man, with a smile. I was beginning to like this guy, cause he was cheerful and he actually seemed happy to help me get out of jail.
So the transaction was a done deal, and soon I was back on the outside again. The cab fare to the towing company that had my car was $25 dollars, and the towing company lightened my wallet by another $120 dollars to give me my car back. So a speeding ticket that would have cost me $50 bucks if I had bothered to pay it, now ballooned up to a total cost of $295.00. But hey, with my $400.00 in poker winnings, I was still $105.00 ahead, and back then when I was 22 years old, I had a relaxed attitude of “easy come, easy go” so why get uptight about it?
Of course, I was not even thinking about the new ticket for driving in the breakdown lane, which was another $75.00 – assuming I paid it on time, and didn’t end up repeating this whole exercise all over again. (I paid the ticket on time) And when I was 22 years old, I also wasn’t thinking about the extra money I’d pay for insurance surcharges for the moving violation. Until I got the the bill, but hey, that was six months later… So although I thought I was ahead, I was really in the hole and in the red. But back then I was often blissfully ignorant of those kind of details. Like the half day of pay that wouldn’t be in my next paycheck…
But at least I didn’t lose a full day’s pay, because I was back at work by 1:00 PM. The first thing I did when I got to work, was to head straight for Dave’s office, give him a big smile, and say “Dave! I’m back! Did ya miss me?” Dave shot me back a look that that could kill, and growled, “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll get out of my sight!” As I turned and walked away from “Mr. Happy” my nickname for Dave when he was out of range, he called out “Go see your boss – he want’s to talk to you, and just be glad that you’re talking to him and not me!” Without turning around or stopping, I said “I’m glad, Dave, I’m glad…”
My boss didn’t give me a hard time; he just wanted to know if I was still in legal trouble, and whether or not I still had a valid drivers license. I happily answered his first question “No” and his second question “Yes”. My boss’s eyes met mine, his face in a very serious expression, as he said “You know, Chris… in sales, writing business covers up a lot of sins. So keep writing lots of business.” I gave him a genuinely friendly smile and said, “As long as the sun keeps rising every morning, I’ll keep writing lots of business.” My boss looked like he was on the edge of saying something more, but stopped himself, paused, and then added “Well the sun rose this morning, so get to work!”
As I turned and started to walk out of his office, I said with a smile, “I’m on it Marty, I’m on it!
Those were carefree and uncomplicated days. Six months later, my girlfriend would get pregnant, we would get married, and those days would be gone forever. Except for in my fond memories, like the ones I’ve been enjoying while writing this post.