Bad Decisions: I Should Have Gone to Jail

I do a lot of reflecting throughout each day.  A lot of it happens in the shower and ends with me shaking my head in disbelief.

       -How could I have done something so stupid?

Most of these shower moments are related to social situations.  I think back on them and wonder how someone with my social skills could embarrass myself like that.  I'm surprised that I don't reflect on situations that could have been really life altering.  Mistaking someone for pregnant isn't nearly as big of a deal as accompanying a home invasion/assault with a pistol, but somehow I get more chills thinking about the former.

There are things I've done in the past that could have gotten me in huge trouble.  Each time it's something easily avoidable.  But like most young men, I thought I was invincible.  I'm lucky that premise wasn't tested.  Now I'm older and wiser and less inclined to go on an adventure.  There's one instance in the past that comes to mind.

I was home (Miami) on leave from Turkey.  I always used to stay at Favorite Uncle's house because... well he's my favorite uncle.  I was around 22 years old with money in my pocket and no responsibilities besides staying alive.  You couldn't tell me anything back then.  I had very recently met Swedie.  I remember showing her picture to my little cousin.

       - But she white.
       - Most people in Sweden are white... She fine though, right?
       - Yeah, she fine.

I love teaching the youth.  I digress.  I took a trip to Orlando for a wedding and upon my return I noticed that Favorite Uncle's truck wasn't home.  I figured he wasn't home either.  I came in (I still have a key to this day) and sat down on the couch.  I noticed a police officer's card and a police report on the table.  It said something about a vehicle theft.  Favorite Uncle walked into the room.

       - Where's your truck?
       - I'll talk to you about that later.
       - Somebody stole the Expedition?
       - I'll talk to you about that later.

Later was after dinner.  Favorite Uncle said he wanted to sell the truck.  It wasn't in good enough condition to get a good price.  The leather interior was too damaged from him using it like a work truck.  He didn't want to take a loss on it, so he was going to report it stolen and then destroy it to collect the insurance money.

This is the point in the story where I SHOULD:

A. Notice the red flags and alarms going bonkers in my head and wish him good luck and go stay at Grandmother's house.
B. Try and talk him out of this.  Tell him it's too risky and he has too much to lose.
C. Offer to put a nice ad on Craigslist or something and find a desperate sucker that would pay too much for it.

But I chose:

D. Get very excited and ask if I could join

I could see the split second where he thought

       I don't want to deal with this boy's crazy momma if I get him in some trouble... but he's a grown ass man so fuck it!

He told me I could join him on this adventure.  We'd wear dark clothes and burn the truck at a spot in a warehouse district that he had scouted beforehand.  The truck was at a Rendezvous Point waiting for us.  He called his original accomplice and said that he had help.  He didn't need him anymore.  No extra witnesses.  Wow.  I was a new accomplice.  He trusted me to handle this.  Exciting!

We got to the Rendezvous Point.  The keys were in the truck and the door would be unlocked.  Or would it?  I guess Favorite Uncle made a smart move firing the first accomplice.  The guy locked the damn keys in the truck!  Favorite Uncle broke the small rear window.  It didn't matter.  The truck would be destroyed soon anyway.  Another positive for me as an accomplice.  I could fit in that little window.  I squeezed in and unlocked the truck.  Favorite Uncle would drive the "stolen" truck.  I would drive his car.  Somehow this still didn't seem like a bad idea to me.

I followed him to the warehouse district.  We reached the Burn Location.  Favorite Uncle pulled up next to me and signaled for me to roll down my window.  Like a good accomplice I did so swiftly.  But with a smile?

       - Man, we gotta find another spot.  Cops over there.

I looked in the direction he nodded.  Our Burn Location had been compromised.  A police car was sitting there waiting for possible vehicle insurance fraud suspects.  Dammit!  I guess we ride another night, my friend.

       - Follow me.  I'll find another spot.  We gotta do this tonight.  This truck reported stolen.
       - Okay.

I guess we don't ride another night.  Somehow I STILL didn't think this was a bad idea.  If you would have paused my life and asked me right then am I a leader or a follower, I guarantee I would say I was a leader with all the confidence in the world.  Then un-pause and keep driving towards a prison sentence.

Favorite Uncle found a spot that he liked.  Burn Location 2.  He told me to keep the vehicle in drive.  He parked the truck about 50 yards away and doused it in gasoline.  He lit a match and dropped it in the truck...

Favorite Uncle is not the skinniest man in the world.  When I tell you that Favorite Uncle running his round body toward me at Olympic speed was the funniest thing I had ever seen until then, I mean it.  His legs were a spinning blur like the roadrunner.  I couldn't stop laughing at the hilarity of the situation.  This was one man that didn't want to catch on fire.

       - DRIVE JON, DRIVE!!!

I took my foot off the brake and mashed the gas pedal.  But Favorite Uncle wasn't all the way in yet.

       - STOP NIGGA, STOP!!!

I stopped to let him get in.

       - DRIIIVE!!!

So pushy!  I sped off about 50 yards.  He told me to stop so we could see the truck go up in flames.  I STILL didn't think this was a bad idea.  No flames.  I drove back to my ready position.  Foot on the brake, car in drive. There was no turning back now.  We needed to burn this baby.  Favorite Uncle walked back over to the truck with his book of matches.  I watched him strike a match and drop it into the truck.  He looked into the truck and wasn't satisfied.  He began striking another match.  It wouldn't strike.  Then a flame suddenly burst up from the truck.  Favorite Uncle yelled, "OH SHIT!" and jumped backwards into a full-on sprint.  This was the new funniest thing I had ever seen.  I was holding my stomach, my pee and my foot on the brake.

       - DRIVE JON, DRIVE!!!

I had learned my lesson.  I waited until he got in and then sped to about the same spot from before.  We watched as the truck went up in flames.  Mission accomplished.

We went back the next morning to admire our work.  The truck was indeed burned to a crisp.  We smiled at each other and went to get something to eat.  All was right in the world.  The vehicle was in my grandmother's name.  She would be the one to be contacted by the police once the vehicle was found.  She would be the one to meet the insurance agent.

The nice agent called Grandmother into his office.  He said that before they proceeded, he had something to show her.  Grandmother agreed to check out whatever it was.  The agent said that they had obtained video of the vehicle being burned at the scene from a nearby warehouse.  He thought she should take a look at it to see if she recognized the thieves and wanted to go ahead with the process.  She agreed to watch the tape.  How good of a picture could a camera get in the middle of the night?

GOOD!  A camera could get a good picture.  Grandmother said the agent showed her a crystal clear image of a young man sitting in a car laughing while some chubby idiot thew a match into a truck.  The chubby man got in the car and then they laughed together.  Then they went back and the silly guy smiled while the chubby guy struggled to light a match and almost set himself on fire.  Grandmother felt the insurance money burning up as the truck burned in the video.

       - Do you still want to file this claim?
       - Never mind!

She walked out of the office.  Favorite Uncle never got a dime.  He and I laugh about that night just about every time we get together.  I remark on how dumb I was to agree to do that and he says the same line every time:

       - Man, I lost 9000 dollars on that damn truck.

Indeed you did, Favorite Uncle.  Indeed you did.  I won't be on any adventures like that again.  That could have gone very wrong in so many ways.  At least I got a funny story to share.  Until next time...


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