In the previous post I told the story of receiving 14 tickets in a row for the same heinous crime: no brake or tail lights on my little red sports car. I promptly threw away all the tickets and went about my business until a cop showed up at the door with a warrant for my arrest. When my father came home he was pretty angry and asked me what I had done to deserve an arrest warrant. I told him I hadn’t any clue and the truth is, I really didn’t know why they would want me. I think my father always assumed I’d wind up in prison anyway, so to him this wasn’t all that surprising.
Turns out that we could attend “night court” to get this handled and together we drove down to the Santa Ana county courthouse to await my turn for a day in court. After an hour or two watching all manner of real criminals come and go, I was pretty nervous. These guys seemed to have no sense of humor and most of the people facing this judge were later hustled off to jail. Didn’t look too good. Then they called my name.
The humorless judge peered over his glasses and said “You have 14 tickets for the same equipment violation on your car and then you’ve apparently never responded to any of them. Is the vehicle fixed?”
“Well, no, not exactly. All the wiring on the car is missing and I couldn’t fix it.”
“Then you shouldn’t be driving it. Moreover, you ignored the court’s warning about the tickets and apparently haven’t any regard for taking care of your responsibilities. I am suspending your license until you either sell the vehicle or fix it. I am also fining you $20 per violation you did not respond to. That’s $280 or 14 days in jail. Which will it be?”
Yikes! ”Oh, I’ll pay the $280 for sure.” The judge banged down his gavel and moved on to the next criminal. I was pointed over to a surly bored looking clerk who said “$280. How will you pay this?”
I didn’t have any money. I looked over at my father, seated in the front row and said “can you cover this for me and I’ll work it off?” My dad just shook his head and said “sorry Paul, you need to learn a lesson” and with that he turned around and left. My heart sank. How could he do this to me? I think that might have been the first time I truly felt abandoned and angry at him.
The clerk looked at me and asked if I had the money. I said “no” and I was handed over to a large cop who hauled me off to jail. That was a truly awful experience one which reminds me of the Arlo Gutherie song Alice’s Restaurant. I spent the night in a holding cell with actual bad guys and feeling pretty lonely and frightened.
Of the two weeks I was supposed to be imprisoned, I only spend three days. The fourth day found my friend David waiting for me upon my surprise release.
David smiled and said “I got you out of jail. It took a while but I convinced your dad to let me take care of it.” Anything that got me out of that jail was fine by me. ”What did you do?”
“I sold your car back to the dealer for $100 and bought your stereo. Here’s the paperwork from the dealer you can present to the court so you’re free of the tickets.”
In that one moment I went from the cool guy with the stereo and a red convertible sports car, to the released criminal from jail with everything lost and my pride squashed. My best friend had the stereo he always wanted and I, unknowingly, had made my first sale.
Fortunately, years later, the stereos I sell now come with a lot easier terms than my first.