Friday, May 28, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
I started working at Free Wheeler right out of high school, sometime during the first week of July of 1978. It was just a dinky little place in the corner of an old car dealership, the rest of the building was still occupied by a car parts store. The three guys that started it had all been M.P.s in Germany during the Vietnam war, and had come out to Salt Lake together to start a rock band.
One night, when they had been partying pretty hardily, they wanted to get something to eat, and realized that there was no place in the valley that would actually deliver food to your home. When living in Chicago, two of them had worked for what is now a national pizza delivery chain, and decided Salt Lake could use a good pizza delivery place of it’s own. So the day after Thanksgiving 1977 they opened the doors, and 7 months later I walked through the door looking for a job. By this time one of the original owners had left, and another friend of theirs had bought his way into the business with a couple hundred dollars, a ‘72 Chevy Vega and ‘68 VW Bug that we used for delivery cars. The Bug had a big hole in the floorboard right by the driver’s left foot and no reverse gear, and the Vega had a bad clutch. Add to that the ‘72 Super Beetle with a front end that wobbled every time you went over a bump, and you get one hell of a nice delivery fleet. But we made it work.
The best part about Free Wheeler was (and still is) that is wasn’t just a workplace. Mike, Mitch and Al, the three owners, created an atmosphere where the crews became close friends. We worked together, we partied together, we vacationed together. Every Thanksgiving the store closed down and pretty much the entire crew would get together celebrate the store’s anniversary. At the original store we would close down to play intramural football up at the University of Utah (our team name was "the “Twisted Brains”.) and we even closed down for an entire week so the whole crew could go down to Lake Powell.
When I was manager of the West Valley store it was a very small crew, and we became so close that we wouldn’t even knock when going over to each other houses, especially at the house of my assistant manager, who was pretty much the matriarch of the store. We had a habit of playing practical jokes on each other, and would always try to extract some sort of good natured revenge whenever the prank fell on us.
So, this is the prelude to future posts about the practical jokes we played on each other, and other ones I was involved with that have nothing to do with Free Wheeler.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
This is a repost of part of one from my other blog, but since I couldn’t decide which one the whole story belonged on, I decided to put the whole story there, and this part, which belongs here, here. If you want to read the whole story, here’s the link: Click on me.
I was 6 or 7 when my dad caught me with a Matchbox car I had stolen from the local 5 & Dime. I hadn’t even had the chance to get it out of the package, so my dad immediately packed me into the car, drove me back down there and made me go in, return it and apologize for taking it. This little lesson has stuck with me, well, it’s still with me. I’d like to say that I’ve never stolen anything since then, but as we all know the teen years can overcome the best of parenting. But even during my most narcissistic adolescent phase, I still had this big knot in the pit of my stomach anytime I took something that wasn’t mine. It didn’t stop me, but I still had a physical reaction. Which probably explains why my larceny was kept to a minimum, and can say that I have never been arrested for any kind of theft.
Remembering back on my experience, I really have no idea what the man at the counter said, or exactly what my father had said for that matter. I vividly remember walking in that door, looking down the counter, on the right, to where the cashier was, and standing there in front of him. I remember being embarrassed as hell that I got caught, and more importantly, that I was being held responsible for my actions.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
About a month after the incident at the party at my house, I had another run-in with Officer Napoleon.
There was some issue with students from my high school parking their cars, or just sitting on the lawns, on the small street right by the school. The big issue was that that was where they went to smoke pot. The neighbors complained enough about the “Douglas Street Squatters”, as they were known, that the city made the street a no-parking area during school hours. Now Douglas Street runs parallel to the main street in front of the school, which seemed to have caused some confusion for Officer Napoleon.
It was lunchtime and there were a whole bunch of students out at the 7-11 across from the school, which happened to be where my unofficial parking spot was; right on the main road in front of said 7-11. We were standing there eating lunch, and watching a cop give tickets to all the cars along the main road. I was wondering what he was doing, and when he finally got to my car I decided I now had the right to ask. I walk over to him, and as I get close enough to talk to him I realize it’s the same Napoleon wannabe cop that was strutting around my house just a few months back.
“Whatcha doin’?” I asked him.
“What?” He responded.
“This is my car, I was just wondering what you were giving me a ticket for.”
“Parking illegally. They changed this to a no parking zone during school hours.”
“Nope, they changed this street to.”
“Not according to that.” I said as I pointed to the parking sign right in front of my car.
He didn’t say much, just looked at the sign, ripped up the ticket he had started and then went back to all the other cars along the street and ripped up their tickets too.
“I fought the law, and the law (didn’t) won.”
Monday, May 10, 2010
It was sometime around October of my senior year. My parents had taken off to some convention somewhere and left me and my younger siblings alone in the house for a week. Which, at 17, meant “One Big 7 Day Party.” My best friend, and a dozen of my closest friends, had pretty much moved in for the week. A house full of unsupervised teenagers, something the ultra-conservative neighborhood (SLC in 1977, EVERWHERE was ultra-conservative) must have just loved.
Not that we planned this, but they were in the process of building a couple of condominium buildings almost across the street from my house. Now, other than partying, what other things do teenagers, or did they in 1977, like to do? Well, explore unfinished buildings. And these had working elevators.
While we were partaking of our bootlegged bounty in the house, (let’s call them) J.T., Eric and some other unknown friend, decided to explore the high-rises. At about 10 at night. Well, they had done this a couple nights before, and came running in the front door, yelling “Cops, Cops”, and as we all just started peeing our pants, they started laughing. Yeah, funny joke.
Well, this evening JT comes running in the front door, screaming “Cops! Cops!”, and just like in the story about the kid who cried wolf, we didn’t believe him. Until he ran out the back door, jumped off the balcony and ran out into the field. Then I thought “Hmmm, maybe he is serious?”, went to the front window and looked out.
Flashing red and blue lights right in front of my house. Holy $%!%, he wasn’t kidding. That’s when I followed him, running through the house screaming “Cops! Cops!”, out the back door, off the balcony and into the field, with half the party in tow.
About a third of the way down the hill, I look over and there’s my older brother running right beside me. He looks at me, I look at him, and he says “That’s OUR house, we gotta go back and see what’s going on.”
(See, my parents had drilled some sense of responsibility into us.)
Damn, he’s right. So we head back up to the house, to find the half of the party that had remained being interrogated by 4 or 5 of Salt Lake City’s finest. Well, not all. One of SLC’s finest was sitting on the couch in the living room, drink in one hand, smoke in the other, talking to (we’ll call her) Tory, a female freshman friend of mine.
We walked into the kitchen to find a room full of kids, with the head cop pacing around, barking questions, like a modern day Napoleon grilling the troops on what went wrong at the last battle. Seems that two of the three that had been up at the condos had frozen right in their tracks, while JT ran for his life, leading the cops right to the party. Napoleon got his name from the other two, and damn well wanted to get his hands on that danged fugitive. He got everyone’s name, asking each one where JT was, getting the same response from them all: “He’s out in the field.”
When we walked in and he asked us, we told him who we were, and that it was our house. I don’t remember any specifics of the grilling, but he did write down my sister’s name when she came home in the middle of the mess, my 11 year old little brother’s name when he woke up to see what was going on and even my sister-in-law who showed up near the end to pick up my older brother. We half expected him to put his ear to her very pregnant stomach and demand to see the baby’s identification. They made us pour out all our alcohol, and then spent an hour walking through the field looking for JT, passing by but not stumbling onto a single one of the 15 or 20 friends that were hiding under sage brush and other such natural cover out there.
An hour or so later, they gave up looking, and left. No citations, no arrests. (aahh, the innocence of the 70’s). My little brother went back to bed, my little sister went to bed and my older brother and his wife went home.
Now, we all knew better than to raid my parent’s liquor cabinet, they never needed a lock on it because what restrictions they did put on us were to be taken seriously. But after this ordeal, we were glad that the cops hadn’t discovered it, and we carefully partook of what we thought we could get away with. (We didn’t – I had to pay the parents back, twofold). We had to do something to calm ourselves down as we waited for the absent party goers to take the chance the cops were gone and risk coming back in. And when they did, they needed something to warm them up, after all it was October, and although there wasn’t snow on the ground, I do remember it being cold out there.
It was about midnight when the cops left, and people started trickling in around 1:00. We heard stories about cops walking within feet of them and shining their spot lights on them from 20 feet away, and then going right past them. The very last person to return to the party was the fugitive from justice, JT. He showed up just past 4 in the morning, shivering like a soaked Golden Lab and was immediately wrapped up in a warm blanket and given something to warm his innards. He’d been hiding up a tree next to the Church at the end of the road, the cops had even shined their light up into the tree, but never noticed him.
This, of course, was the end to the visits to the unfinished condos.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Monday, May 3, 2010
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Don’t use mom’s good towels and your good shoes for a practical joke that may blow up in your face.