When I was little I’d like to think I had an inquisitive air about me. I was smart and liked to understand what was going on around me. That being said, I also had a conscience like no other. I felt bad when people misused their toys because all I could think about were the people that worked so hard to make them for us.
One day, little first grade me was given a special treat. Firefighters came into our class! We learned about what they do and how to avoid house fires (You’ve all discussed with your family what your escape plan is in case of a fire, right?). I left school feeling really great. I was going to make an escape plan and possibly saves the lives of my family.
But the fun wasn’t over. No it was not. It was BOWLING NIGHT for the boy scout troop my brother was in. Holy dear sweet Jesus it was like a dream come true. I got to eat pizza, and go to the bowling alley on a school night. I felt like this:
We headed to the alley and life continued to be great. Everybody was in high spirits. I didn’t bowl that night and I’m not sure why. I don’t remember being bothered by it so I’m going to just say it was my decision because bowling is for losers (jk I love bowling). A girl from my class was also there and we paired up from the get-go. Our parents were letting us wander in the general vicinity since it wasn’t too crowded (Because who goes bowling on a school night? NO ONE EXCEPT ME!). We found the pay phone (this was still before cell phones were a must-have) and started making play calls. We knew as long as we didn’t put money in it we could enjoy hours of merriment. My friend would enter the numbers and I held the receiver. We kind of had a system.
Hold on to your hats ladies and gentlemen, shit’s about to get real.
My friend decided she wanted to call her “doctor”. I’m still not sure what number she entered (I’d like to think my buddy wouldn’t be dumb enough to call 911) and to my horror someone picked up. My face went completely aghast and I immediately hung up the receiver. This wasn’t part of the plan, the phone wasn’t supposed to work!
At that point my mind went into overdrive and the same thing kept surging through my head. We had learned earlier in the day from our friendly neighborhood firefighters that they could track calls. Any call. Even if they were only a few seconds long. And they would Hunt. You. Down. (I may have added that last part but trust me, if you were in my position you’d assume the same.)
I went into plan mode. For some reason I really thought there had to be a way to get my entire family to leave before anyone could find out what just went down. I contemplated the obvious choices-faking sick and faking tired but I knew neither would work. Throwing out the only two ideas I could come up with I tried to accept my fate. They were going to come, my parents would probably have to disown me and kick me out of the house. And that was if I wasn’t arrested first!
My (not super bright) friend and I parted ways as the pizza arrived to our tables. I was hanging on, but only just. My mom tried to get me to eat but honestly, how could I when I was expecting to be thrown into jail at any moment?
That’s when it happened.
I saw them from across the bowling alley. Two or three cops came strolling in and I lost it. I started wailing and my mom looked genuinely worried because up until that point I had looked more out of it than anything. My sudden outburst of terror could have scared the hair off a cat. I started blurting out the whole thing in between sobs and obviously the police officers figured out I had something to do with it.
After that is more a blur than anything else. The cops good naturedly told me about not playing with payphones (I haven’t touched a payphone since that day, by the way) and went on their way. My parents did their best to calm and soothe me but the emotional scarring was done.
To this day I endure ridicule from my family, but really I think it’s a tad unfair. While I was only holding the stupid phone my friend was calling all the shots (pun INTENDED). Where is she now? It’d probably help if I remembered her name. Friend from first grade, if you’re reading this I think you owe me an apology.
(Pictures are linked to where I got them from.)