Monday, March 19, 2012

Car Thief. (Blogophlia 4.5)

Something you need to know about me to understand where my writing comes from, I am the child of alcoholics.  My Mother died at age 62, enjoying her ill health and large quantities of vodka.   My father lasted much longer. He was always a good breadwinner, but struggled nightly against the bottle.  I am the youngest of five kids and as such, became the target for many of my Mother's tirades.  I  was an "oops" child.  That is, the result of both of them angrily resolving whatever argument by having sex.  So, here I am.

I had lunch with one of my sister's on Saturday and we started swapping war stories.  As we were going through the various binge sessions, I recounted the time I had the police called on me because I had "stolen" the family car. 

I was a Senior in high school and we were living in an apartment on the North side of Atlanta.  I was the only child left at home by this time.  My Dad spent most of his time on business trips, so it usually was just me and Mother.  Most of my time was spent in my room, trying to avoid the small, drunken mess that spent her days on the couch chain smoking Chesterfields.  I spent my days wishing for graduation, so I could move out.

There were escapes.  I was in the band in high school and I belonged to a church youth group that both understood and tolerated me.  The Youth Minister had a somewhat similar background and frequently ran interference for me.  And the group of kids were a bunch of misfits anyway.  So, Sunday afternoons were something I looked forward to.  I would pack my sax and guitar in the car and head over there pretty much without fail.

This one spring Sunday found my mother in her usual stupor and I decided I would leave early. There was this quiet field across the river in the next county.  I'd spend a few minutes there and chill before I went to church.  Quietly, I grab the keys, locked the door behind me and headed north.  I was about 1/2 mile from my spot when I came on a red light.  I brought the car to a stop. And, then.....BAM!!

Crap.

I came out of the car tripping over my two left feet and then ran to the back of the car.  The trunk hinges had been popped and both rear fenders were crumpled a bit.  Sitting in the driver's seat of the other car was an hysterical teenage girl.  I went over to make sure she was alright and calm her down.  It turned out I knew her.  She had been at my high school up until the previous year, when her parents moved across the river.  I got her out of her car and then pondered what to do next.  There was a pay phone on the corner.  I walked over and phoned the police. 

The officer who came was pretty nice.  It helped the girl was still crying.  He did ask if either one of us had been drinking or had any alcohol in the car (we didn't).  We exchanged insurance information and she got a ticket.  I got to church on time and Father Joe asked me what happened to the car.  I told him and he asked if I'd called home.  No, but I guess I'd better.  And I did, just saying I had been in a minor car wreck.

Big mistake.

When I got home, there was a cop with my mother in the living room.  He asked me to step outside.  He said my mother had said I had stolen and wrecked her car and she wanted to press charges.  But he did say she was too intoxicated for him to appropriately make a report.  Could I tell him my side of the story? 

Story?  I could feel my temples throbbing hard, but I knew I needed to keep my voice level or I was going to spend my night in jail.  With all the control I could muster, I told the cop what had happened, from leaving early, to the wreck, to dealing with the other cop.  I showed him the accident report and insurance info and he put his hand on my shoulder.  He said I had done really well for a 17 year old.  In the meantime, my mom was yelling out the door for the cop to arrest me, already.  Finally, the cop had enough.  He said if she said one more word SHE was going to jail, not me.  He wished me good luck and left.

I learned a couple of things that night: Keeping calm in the midst of chaos will get you to the other side reasonably intact. and Yes, Sir, No, Sir, Please and Thank you go a long way in smoothing relations with the police.

And that is how it really happened.

22 comments:

  1. I'm biting my tongue - there is a story here I so want to trade. But its more Sallon's than mine, so I'll wait and give her first shot.

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  2. Sounds like you had a LOT of lessons to learn that day. Seems like getting through all of those battles made you stronger.

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    1. I'd like to think so. I am still the one with the level head while the world collapses.

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  3. I am glad that the atmosphere you grew up in educated you in the right direction rather than following in footsteps...8 points Earthling! :)
    Marvin

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  4. indeed saying "sir" and using basic manners goes far. good post

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    1. Trust me, young man. Keep this lesson. You never know when it will apply.

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  5. You're a good man Chris. My heart always warms to a story where a person comes out well from a horrid home situation. I've seen so many of them and sometimes the kids don't make it out. I'm so glad you did

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    1. It ultimately came down to me making up mind NOT to follow their path. I had a lot of people trying to give me bad advice over the years. I would let the sound flow in one ear and out the other.

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    2. You're a strong man. I wonder why some are like you and others take the bad advice.... fascinating

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  6. You're much better at dealing with the police than I ever was. Some people grow strong from adversity while others wilt. I'm still speechless in regards to your mom's behavior. I love true stories, you just can't make them up.

    Sallon

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    1. I guess I got jaded when I was there. The best way to handle it was to detach and I became pretty good at it once I got to about 14-15.

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    2. You're lucky you didn't totally detach - happens to many and they wind up very ill

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  7. Powerful story Christopher... for some reason it brought tears to my eyes. Very relatable.

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  8. Keeping calm and polite with the law does go along way at smoothing things out. Enjoyed your story!

    Michelle K

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    1. Yes, it does. I got to repeat the performance a couple of times without her help, too.

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  9. My hats off to you Chris.A person's character is mostly tested during difficult times and you passed with flying colors. Sometimes, I see children growing up as fine men precisely because of lack of parenting skill.Nature can flourish on its own and you are a testament to it.:)

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  10. Glad to read . . . . Awesome Blogophilia 4.5!

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  11. Sometimes we learn lessons the hard way. I bet you make a great parent. You should be proud of how you handled the situation. I am glad the both cops treated you with respect and did not lump you in with kids your age that are delinquents.

    Kudos to you!

    Joanie

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    1. I was just happy I didn't end up jail.

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  12. Wow! Just WOW!

    -Leta

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