Biggest Mistakes of My Life: Mistake No. 1

Let's go way back. As a teenage dishwasher at a local golf course, I accepted the fact that I alone occupied the bottom strata of a blue-collar caste system - the lowest of the low on a semi-corporate totem poll. However, what I didn't realize was that my newly awarded "slave" status would soon lead me through a two-hour escapade into the heart of Detroit while harboring a criminal in my 1999 Pontiac Grand Am.

I miss that car. Actually, scratch that.

First and foremost, it is important you understand how menial my job was. I was a peon - just another kid who was looking to make some money before college and perhaps climb the ranks of social hierarchy. Dishwashers were treated like animals at the golf course. Filthy, rabid animals. Sad but true. Anyway, on my first day I was introduced to a cook, a man of superior status, a higher life form, named Jason. Right off the bat, I could tell Jason was bad news and even worse - white trash. It could have been the barbed-wire tattoo around his wrist, the fake gold chain around his neck, or the low-life ambiance that was emitted from his many missing teeth, but it was immediately clear to me that this guy sucked.

Fast forward to two months later. One Sunday, Jason and I were the only people working in the kitchen. This is when he saw an opportunity to take advantage of me. Not in that way, dipshit. But to take advantage of my occupation as a serf and my naivety
. Up until this point, I was aware of the fact that Jason had no driver's license due to a couple of "bogus" DUIs. Sadly, I was unaware he frequently asked co-workers for rides home. As you can probably guess, Jason cornered me at work and started begging for a ride home. "It's not that far, man. Come on! Help a guy out." I agreed.

(OK, hold on a second. To help lighten the mood of this story, I'm going to start referring to Jason as "Dumbass.")

As we drove away from the golf course, Dumbass started directing me to his apartment. Upon arriving at his modest abode, he told me he was going to run inside real quick and get something he wanted to show me. I had no idea at the time, but I should have left. Dumbass came back and got into my car. "What are you doing?" I inquired. "I'm gonna need you to take me to see a friend of mine. He owes me some money, and I need to pay him a littlie visit. It's not a far trip, I'll pay you $50." Like a house on stilts in a hurricane, I crippled under pressure and followed the orders of upper management. Bad idea.

By this time in the story I was on the interstate, which is nowhere near the golf course. Turns out Dumbass lied. We neared a three-way split in the interstate: the left leading to downtown Detroit, the middle to Toledo, Ohio, and the right to Ann Arbor. I could sense this was the determining factor in where I would be spending the next hour of my life. I was praying for Ann Arbor. "Get in the left lane, we're going to Detroit," Dumbass mumbled. My heart sank.

Inner-city Detroit. Not the suburbs. Not I'm-from-Northville-yet-I-tell-people-I'm-from-Detroit-when-I'm-traveling-out-of-state Detroit. After exiting the highway, I drove down a road in what was probably a residential area, but looked more like a place where a bomb had recently gone off. Dumbass told me to slow down, and that the place we were looking for was five houses ahead. I glanced five "houses" ahead. On the left, there was a dilapidated yet quiet-looking home. On the right, there was a home with 10 black men crowded on a small lawn drinking beer and working on a Chevy Impala. I could sense what was coming. "OK, stop the car! It's the house on the right," Dumbass yelled. Fantastic news.

I received specific instructions from Dumbass to stay low and, this is still my favorite, to not draw attention to myself. Well, aren't those some comforting statements? "Stay low"? When does anyone need to stay low, save a war or a terrorist attack? "Stay low" is a bad command to give to someone - it will only make them nervous. The latter was even more impressive and easily outdid the former instrucion. "Don't draw attention to yourself." Thanks, Dumbass, I think you and I have already fucked this one up huge. After fiddling with something secured in his boot that I believed to be a knife, Dumbass set off into the sea of Detroit locals guarding the home. I was sweating profusely. Looking back on this whole bizarre scenario, I should have left him there to die. But then again, he probably would have paid me a visit next. So I waited.

What seemed like an eternity later, Dumbass came sprinting out of the house like a bat out of hell amid the confused-looking group of urbanites who started to shout, got into my car and yelled "Drive!" Again, telling someone to "Drive!" is something that should rarely, if ever, be done. If necessary, it should be used in moderation, for it implies that eminent danger is upon us and that driving very fast is the only chance we have to escape the coming certainty of death and/or injury. Nonetheless, I understood and chose to "Drive!" as fast as I could.

I didn't know what transpired in the house, but I had a better idea once we got back on the interstate. Dumbass pulled out a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, and I told him I normally don't let people smoke in my car. He replied by shaking out five crack rocks into his hand from the empty pack. I was beside myself at this point - completely dismayed as to what had happened that day. As Dumbass broke up the rocks in his hand and snorted them, he proceeded to tell me how he recently moved to Michigan from Miami, where he used to deal cocaine. "They arrested my old man on a sting," Dumbass explained. "Fucking cops," he elaborated. After Dumbass enlightened me with more of his senseless stories, I learned that not only was I harboring a drug dealer, but an ex-convict as well. What a great way to spend a Sunday. The "Lord's" day. He did pay me though - $50 like he promised.

The next week, Dumbass robbed our work. That's right. He robbed the place. But since he didn't have a car, this made his getaway much less smooth than the average criminal. Apparently Dumbass had been stealing cash from the golf course for months and decided to take off running after stealing the last amount of the beer-cart money, leaving his cooking apron on the pavement of the parking lot during his mad dash to the nearest major road. Oh yeah, Dumbass also broke into our boss' house to steal a few items and held up a local video store at knife-point. He was apprehended later that week.

Needless to say, this was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I know you know this because you wasted your time reading my incredibly stupid story. I'm sorry. But I felt I owed it to you to let you know what a moron I was. I am convinced that I am a different person now, and that such horrible judgment and decision making is behind me. As for Dumbass, he's still in jail. If he dies in his cell, it's well deserved for being such a loser.

1 comment:

emily said...

wow! funny story.... it should make you feel better.... a very similar thing happened to me.

one of my best friends, who i hadn't seen in a while, asked me to drive him to his "friends" house. so i drove to taylor (which for me was far, i had never really left dearborn since getting my drivers license).

once we got there to "return some movies" my friend told me to come inside...bad idea.. i said no, but he insisted. at age 16 i was in a crack house with 40 year old men, my "best friend" and a 3 year old running around in just what looked like a week old diaper. i was scared to death. they tried to get me to smoke with him and then they passed around a large glass container, which i now know was a 40.... we got back in the car, he did his drugs and i cried all the way from his house to mine.