While Under the Influence of Alchohol
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The paper in the small town of Stratford, Connecticut ran a public service announcement from a local towing company over the Christmas holidays. This towing company offered to give free rides to anyone who, owing to holiday festivities, had ingested too much alcohol to drive safely. Basically, if you got too drunk to drive, you could call these guys, and they would dispatch a car and give you a ride to wherever it was you needed to go.
I moved to Stratford from the West Coast. When I lived in Oakland, California, I didn't need a car - everything I needed was within walking distance, including the subway - so when I was in an accident in which my car was completely destroyed, I simply collected the insurance money and put it in the bank. It made no sense to buy a new one. Not owning a car was actually quite liberating: No insurance, no maintenance, no parking tickets.
All that changed. Where once I lived in an apartment building surrounded by commercial establishments, I now live in a suburb surrounded by other houses. The nearest store is a small convenience shop about a quarter mile away. The nearest bus stop is a half mile away. The nearest rail station is five miles away. I would gladly walk or ride my bike to these destinations, but for the terrible winter weather. Snow is a common occurrence.
I had no choice but to buy a car.
To complicate matters, I didn't have a job and was living on my savings. In order to buy a car, I needed a job. In order to get a job, I needed a car. A vicious cycle.
I could not depend on my girlfriend for rides everywhere. I could not afford to take taxis. Public transportation was too far away. The weather was too inhospitable for me to walk or bike.
It dawned on me that I had to rely on the services of the towing company, even if those services were only offered during the holiday season. Unfortunately, this meant that I had to get liquored up first, before I called them, and I rarely drink. I'm definitely a light-weight. Getting around town was no longer something I could take for granted. It would take planning and forethought, and a stronger liver than I had. Still, what other choice was there?
The first time I used the towing company's service, I decided to surprise my girlfriend by making a grocery store run while she was at work. I rummaged through the cabinets and found some rum. By 11:00 am, I was completely drunk, and there was no question that I was not fit to operate any sort of vehicle, and that included a telephone. I had miscalculated and had gotten so drunk that I had trouble dialing the phone. When I did finally get through to an operator, she couldn't understand anything I was saying. I vomitted, and then passed out.
I tried again the next day, and was more careful to only drink to some mild excess. This was much better. I was tipsy, but not stone cold drunk. I successfully made the phone call to the towing service's courtesy hotline, and a half hour later, a company car arrived at my home. I was dutifully carried to the grocery store, despite the quizzical looks from my driver.
I bought groceries and then started drinking again because I had to use the service to get back home. I had planned for this while I was shopping for groceries and had purchased a lot of alcohol. The only problem was that it is illegal in Stratford, Connecticut to drink in public. And, I had a shopping cart filled with bags of groceries. So I walked the cart around the block several times, taking snorts directly out of a liquor bottle that I had put in a brown paper bag. Observers just assumed that I was a homeless person, and this false impression suited my purposes. A half hour or so later, I was legitimately drunk, and called the service. I was lucky that there was a different driver this time, though I could sense that she, too, regarded me with curiousity.
The second time I used the service, it was for a job interview. It was scheduled for 9:00 am, and factoring in the time it would take for me to get dressed, get drunk and for the car itself to arrive, I realized that I had to start drinking as early as 7:00 am. The trick was to be drunk enough to call the service, but not so drunk that I couldn't sober up for the interview. As I mentioned, I don't drink otherwise, and I don't know a lot about alcohol. This time when I rummaged through my girlfriend's kitchen cabinets I found what I thought would be a serviceable liquor: Tequila.
I took several shots, but nothing seemed to happen. I assumed that it was, perhaps, an liquor that simply didn't have a lot of alcoholic content. To expedite matters, I started drinking beer. When the car arrived, I had what I thought was a pleasant buzz.
I now know that tequila is not the best alcoholic beverage for this type of endeavor. I know I didn't get the job because they never called me back, but what troubles me more is that I don't remember going to the job interview at all. I did, however, receive a job offer from a company in Mexico that manufactures devices for farmers that faciliate the gathering of bull semen. The job offer came in the form of a hand written letter and was addressed to "Sugar Britches."
The third and final time I used the service, it was to meet my girlfriend and two of her friends, a married couple, for dinner. This couple, Mark and Tracy, have a seven year old boy, Joey, who had the fortune of playing the Lead Tomato in a school play the same night we were to have dinner. The original plan was for us to meet at a local restaurant after the play was over, but my girlfriend was running late, and I agreed to make my way to the boy's elementary school where I would meet Mark and Tracy, watch the play, and ride with them to the restaurant.
It was snowing that night, and the school was far enough away that I decided to use the towing service's courtesy car instead of a taxi. This time I had plenty of alcohol to choose from as we had had a party a few nights earlier, and there had been liquor left over. I don't care for the taste of alcohol, so I decided to flavor my drinks by spiking some leftover punch. What I didn't know, though, was that the punch had already been spiked, and so I was, in effect, double loading it.
I stumbled into the school auditorium while the children's play was in progress, stinking of gin, and declaring loudly that I had a yeast infection. I'm not sure why I said that, precisely. Nor am I certian of what possessed me to decide that I was Lead Tomato and to claim my right as liege, I had to take a dump on the stage while chanting obsenities and pointing at various women in the room and demanding that they "Put the lotion in the basket." By the time the police had arrived, I was completely naked and debauched. By court order, I am not allowed to go within 1,000 feet of Mark's wife, Tracy, owing to a comment I made to her that involved her genitals and a soldering iron.
I finally decided that the whole towing service courtesy service thing just wasn't working out, and that I would have to purchase a vehicle. I'm still shopping around. Many automobile dealerships in the area promise they will sell a car to a prospective buyer regardless of credit history, and I'm hoping that extends to a criminal history as well.
Michael Alan Haley shows initiative.