COMIC BOOK ADDICTION
As stated in the earlier story, I was an absolute idiot as a driver in my youth. The following are a couple such instances.
As a 17 year old youth, I drove a 1968 Chevy Impala SS (Super Sport). It had a 327 4 barrel carb, front bucket seats, auto transmission with a gear shift console on the floor. I thought I was hot stuff, and loved to tromp the accelerator to kick in the 4 barrel carb.
In those days, I had a serious comic book addiction, traveling almost every Saturday to a used book store called Down Memory Lane, located in Norman Oklahoma. There I would purchase back issue comics, as well as the latest issues.
Well, there was one major problem with this. Norman Oklahoma is also the home of Oklahoma University. Yep, Oklahoma Sooners. Boomer Sooner and all that entails with their love of college football, enhanced by the state not having a NFL team.
At this time, it was the height of Sooner football. They were winning national championships, they had the Selmon brothers playing defense (2 of the 3 brothers went on to play in the NFL). As you can imagine, traffic on game day in and around Norman was INSANE. And of course, that was exactly the time I chose to drive there.
So, I was tooling down I35 Southbound, anxious to see what new comics might be available. Patience was not a virtue I had cultivated at the time. Traffic was quite literally bumper to bumper, annoying me greatly.
Veering back and forth, side to side, I examined the cars ahead, looking for an opening. About 5 or 6 cars up, I saw a gap! How to get there was the question. The shoulder was not wide enough to drive on, and passing in the conventional sense was totally impossible.
Suddenly, I had an epiphany! An exit I knew well was coming up. If I accelerated taking the exit, ran the stop sign and gunned it on the onramp, I could pass all these slow poke cars and come in at the gap! Of course, timing would have to be exact, and luck phenomenal to avoid traffic on the off ramp/on ramp, but it could be done!
The thought was father to the deed. Kicking in my 4 barrel, I zoomed off the interstate. Tires screeching as I raced through the stop sign and onto the on ramp, I floored it. Looking ahead, I saw I had indeed timed it exactly right! Only one problem.
The gap I had seen was NOT a gap. There was a motorcycle highway patrol officer there. Well, too late to stop now. I was coming WAAAAY too fast for that.
Laying on the horn, I shouted out my open window, "MOVE IT OR LOSE IT!!!" The officer's head snapped around to glance over his shoulder. I could see his eyes go big as saucers.
Laying his bike over, he skidded UNDER the cars to his left, and out onto the grass median between the north and southbound lanes. Sliding into the "gap" he had left, I calmly took his place. I gave a couple quick honks of the horn and waved, as I saw him staggering to his feet. Hey, no harm no foul, right?
You can believe I watched the news for the next couple of days, but with all the traffic, he had been unable to catch up to me, could not see my license plate, and certainly had not had time to notice it when I was racing towards him.
So, my next little tale happened around the same time frame. I lived with my parents on a small acreage in Moore, Oklahoma, near Sooner Road. Now, Sooner Road was a fairly busy street, running all the way into Norman.
It was also the quickest and easiest way for me to visit one of my high school friends, Steve Cox. That's right, Captain Critter, from the Lake Texhoma story.
Well along this stretch of road, there was a large hill. At the bottom of the hill, the road narrowed to a one lane bridge, then rose steeply on the other side. II enjoyed the roller coaster effect, and the added thrill of not knowing what you would see when you topped the hill. Would there be another car at the bottom, forcing you to yield the bridge?
As I have mentioned elsewhere, at the time I viewed the road as MINE. So obviously, I was adverse to yielding anything to anyone. Often shouting "MY bridge! MINE!!" As I raced down the hill towards it.
As fate would have it, they paved the road one day. Did a beautiful job, the road was smooth as silk, cars practically glided over it. Picking up my friend Steve, I told him I was going to see just how fast I could take that bridge! He happily agreed, having little more sense than me, and perhaps not realizing the full scope of my plan.
Now obviously, one had to have a good head of steam to do this proper justice. And a complete lack of common sense, because at that speed, there would be no way to stop if another car was at the bridge, which again, was one lane only. Well, when I TOPPED the hill, I was going 95mph, and I tromped the 4 barrel carb at that point. Absolutely no idea how fast I was moving when we reached the bridge, which luckily was unoccupied.
All 4 wheels left the ground as that old 68 Impala SS went airborne, slamming back down halfway up the hill on the other side. Steve was laughing, saying he had never done THAT before. I was happy and proud as well....then I realized something.
I could not turn the steering wheel! Would not budge an inch. The car was drifting to the right, ever so slightly, at over 90 mph still. No time to stop, and even if I slammed on the brakes, the Impala stood a good chance of skidding or even flipping.
Grabbing the steering wheel in both hands, I jerked as hard as I could. There came an audible "pop" and suddenly it was free! I could steer again.
That was the last time I tried bridge jumping, although there is one little side note to this story. My father ran a gas station in the south part of Oklahoma City. He had a "mascot" beagle who wandered in one day and took up residence there they named Gertrude. A male dog. That tale is worthy of a story all on its own.
Anyway, my Impala was leaking oil rather heavily, and my dad had me bring it by to be serviced. Upon lifting it on the rack, he found the leak was coming from an inch deep groove which had ran the length of the oil pan. Said groove matched exactly with the tie rod. Apparently when the Impala slammed back down to the ground, the sudden impact rammed the tie rods into the oil pan, where they lodged. That "locked" the steering into its position, where it remained, until my sudden jerk on the wheel popped it back loose.
My father asked what happened, of course. When I told him, he just stared at me, shook his head and said, "I can't say I've never done anything similar, but I hope to hell you learned your lesson."
NIGHT CREW AT SAFEWAY
This story takes place while I ran a nightcrew at a Safeway in south Oklahoma City. At this store, they insisted we take a full hour lunch, even though we were locked inside the store and could not go anywhere. I have always despised lunches, and would generally rather work through them and leave early instead. Typical shift was from 10pm-7 am, counting the lunch.
Ok, well we had no register to ring up our sales on, as they were counted down for the night. So it was agreed we could write the amount down, and leave cash on a register to pay for it.
One night I came into work, and the assistant manager was there. Normally he left several hour earlier. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I do not normally get along with most people in authority over me. This individual was no exception, and I had once remarked to him that Safeway promoted people to the highest level of incompetency.
When he said "What do you mean by that?" I replied that the company promoted management as high as they could handle....and then one step more.
Anyway, on this particular night, he greeted me by saying "Not enough money was left by you guys on the register last night." I replied, "So you're saying we're thieves? You think we cheated the store?" He hastily said, "No, no, I'm not saying that."
I glared at him and said, "OK, so what ARE you saying?" "I'm SAYING not enough money was left on the register," he replied. "Oh, so you ARE calling us thieves!" "No, no, I'm not saying that," he repeated. "I'm just saying not enough money was left on the register."
Well, in those days I had a horrible temper. Two things infuriated me. One was being called a liar, the other was being called a thief." Grabbing the assistant manager by his collar, I jerked him close. With my other hand, I took a $20 bill and jammed it down his shirt collar. "That ought to cover it," I ground out. Then I said, "I'm going to lunch...now!" Granted I had just arrived, and had not even clocked in yet. Fortunately for both of us, he did not try to stop me.
Once outside I hopped in Retaliator (yes, the same car I drove to AggieCon and Night of the Dead Iguana) and peeled out of the parking lot. Just as I left, a police car was turning IN to the parking lot, he did a quick loop and began following me.
Annoyed, I changed lanes. He followed. I changed back, so did he. Now, I was already angrier than I had been in some time. This was doing absolutely nothing to calm me down.
I knew this area very well, and was only about a mile from my apartment. David happened to be staying over, sorting my comics and reading some also. I did not want to come home with a cop chasing me. Lord only knew what David would do, but I was pretty sure it would not be pouring oil on troubled water.
Coming up was a self serve gas station, which was closed for the night. Ok, I thought to myself. I'm going to whip in there. If this idiot police car still follows me, then I'll KNOW he's messing with me...and this is the WRONG NIGHT to do that!
Well, I zoomed into the parking lot of the gas station, with the police car right behind me. 'THAT'S IT!!!" I shouted, grabbing the bowie knife I happened to have in my car. Yep, I often hauled weapons with me, ranging from the bowie, to a Colt Python 38 special, to a blowgun, to a saber....depending on my mood at the time.
Flinging my door open, I charged the police car, racing as fast as I could. Not sure exactly what I had planned, and I was expecting to be shot with each step I took, but I was determined to yank that policeman out of the car and stab him until my arm grew too tired to continue, or he killed me, whichever happened first.
I could see his eyes bug out, as he slammed his car into reverse and left the parking lot considerably faster than he entered it. I stood in frustrated rage, glaring after him, too angry to realize I should have died right there.
Returning home, I climbed the stairs to my apartment, and beat my fists against the door in anger. Grabbing my keys, I opened the door, finding David standing to the side, chair raised over his head. "Hey, I didn't know who it was," he groused.
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