I spied on George through a bedroom curtain as he got in and started his car. KA- BOOM!
STINK BOMB AT TACO BELL
By Alex Rynant/ Rancho Bernardo
Bob and I were in a hurry to pick up his wife at the airport but we needed to eat before we got there. We went to Taco Bell for some tacos and burritos that we could power down while driving. We got our order and sped away for the airport. Halfway through eating, we divided up the remaining tacos and realized that we were four tacos short. It was too late to turn back, the plane was scheduled to land in a few minutes and we were half an hour away. Bob ran off to find his wife, and I went to look for a pay phone. I called the restaurant and explained that our order was shorted. The manager was less than friendly, and we argued for a little bit. It was my word against his and I finally gave up. It was only a couple of dollars, but it was the principle that counted. Plus we were still hungry.
We sat in Bob’s truck and watched as people streamed out of the restaurant.
(Note: Some of the names in these stories have been changed.)
I caught up with Bob and his wife, exchanged pleasantries, and then told Bob the bad news. Surprisingly, he was just as ticked off as I was. Bob and I-had been shorted by fast food drive-through windows once too often. He cussed the whole way home, which made for a very long car ride. Later that night Bob called me with a plan for getting even.
Bad News believed for a split second he had fallen asleep at the wheel.
Bob was a business major in college. Even though he never graduated, he did manage to pick up a few things, mostly from his fraternity brothers. One thing he learned to do was how to make a stink bomb. I’m sure it wasn’t in the university’s curriculum, it was just one of the important things you needed to learn in life.
Oscar got out of the truck. He hurled handfuls of dead mice everywhere.
It was just before noon on a Saturday when we decided to pay Taco Bell a visit. We pulled into the parking lot, and Bob grabbed a bottle of liquid out of the back of his truck. Once inside the restaurant, we each ordered a large soft-drink.
I stalked the killing ground. I waited patiently for my prey.
Instead of filling the cups from the self-serve soda machine, we took them to the back of the restaurant. Bob then filled each cup from the bottle he had brought with him.
The more he wiggled, the more his hair clumped. It knotted, chaotically clustered, coagulated and bunched.
He then pulled two envelopes from his pocket, one for each of us, and told me dump the contents of it into the cup after I had placed it on the table. Bob went to the other side of the restaurant to do the same thing.
Words cannot describe the rancid odor that engulfed the restaurant.
These were stink bombs that were disguised as ordinary soft-drink cups. They emitted an invisible stench that pierced your nose like being hit with a sledgehammer. Try to imagine the horrific odor produced by a pool of chunky vomit baking in the summer heat, only a hundred times worse.
We sat in Bob’s truck and watched as people streamed out of the restaurant. The workers propped the doors open and cleaned up the mess. It was at least 25 to 30 minutes before people went into the restaurant.
Meanwhile, Bob and I had a good laugh.
It was worth the tacos that we had been shorted.
NOSE TO NOSE WITH A KENWORTH
By Joe Kicvit / Rolando
Most over-the-road truck drivers are invariably known to their peers by their CB radio call signs or “handles.” “Bad News” was no exception, and if ever I saw someone who fit their nickname, this guy was the one.
We both worked for a now-defunct trucking company that was based in San Diego. This company was a fairly berserk place to work, and Bad News fit right in when he hired on as a driver.
He was definitely a strange bird. He talked in CB lingo when he was talking to people in person and introduced himself by his handle as if he were Clint Eastwood introducing himself to a fan. I have never figured out whether we were friends or enemies.
After a few weeks at work, it became apparent to his fellow drivers that Bad News was going to be a real pain in the ass to work with. In addition to a lot of annoying habits, Bad News was an inveterate practical joker. Everyone at the company was sooner or later made a victim of his attempts at humor, myself included. The only way he kept his job was the fact that he was a fairly good driver, and management was too dumb to figure out who the joker was that put the dispatcher on an X-rated mailing list, signed the secretary up with a dating service (she was married), or who kept mailing potatoes to the owner. (No note or anything, just potatoes.)
The first time Bad News got me was at a frozen-storage place near the convention center. Bad News and I were there loading at the same time. I finished first, secured my trailer doors, and got in my cab to check my paperwork. Bad News finished, hopped in his truck, waved, and took off. Satisfied my paperwork was right, I fired up and headed onto the freeway. About a mile later, cars started driving by me and pointing and honking. I checked my mirrors and, to my great horror, saw a door was open and was swinging in the wind. I pulled off to the shoulder and ran to the rear. Bad News apparently had unlatched my door, and I was now short four cases of frozen fish that were undoubtedly all over the freeway. Ha-ha. Naturally, Bad News denied it.
The next time, several of us were getting ready to take off out of our yard for a trip to Washington state with several van loads of military freight. I checked my truck, got in, and got ready to go. Bad News and two others took off, and I started up and put it in gear. Little did I know that Bad News had pulled my fifth-wheel release lever. As soon as I moved, the trailer slid off the tractor and dropped on its nose. Naturally, the owner, the mechanic, and the dispatcher were watching. The owner walked over and asked me what I did for an encore. I was so shocked, I just sat there with a weak smile.
The final straw was the mouse he put in my truck. I kept finding chewed-up papers and mouse turds, and I damn near had an accident one day when the little bastard got caught under the seat and started shrieking. I eventually caught him in a box and threw him out at a rest stop. I had had enough.
Evening the score with Mr. Bad News was not ever really planned, the opportunity just presented itself to me one day. I pulled over at the Union 76 truck stop at Buttonwillow one night, and who should be there but my old pal Bad News. He was asleep with his head resting on the steering wheel of his truck. A truck stop parking lot is a fairly noisy place, and he didn’t wake up when I put the nose of my conventional Kenworth about ten feet from the front of his cabover. I had heard old-timers talk about the following stunt, and now it seemed like a pretty good idea.
To those not familiar with the terms, a conventional tractor is one with a hood in front of the driver’s cab, and a cabover is a tractor where the driver sits up high over the engine, and the only thing separating him from the outside world is about a 1/4-inch of glass. Anyway, I turned off all my lights and crept forward very slowly until I was maybe four or five feet from his windshield. I reached up and yanked the air horn, flipped on all my lights, and while I rolled very slowly forward, I pumped the brakes hard for maximum effect.
Bad News awoke from a sound sleep and believed for a split second he had fallen asleep at the wheel and was about to have a head-on collision. He stood straight up in the cab, jamming down on the brake pedal with all his might. I definitely saw him hit his head on the roof, and I strongly suspect he ruined his underwear. After he realized he wasn’t dead and was in fact stopped in a parking lot, he flew out of his cab cursing.
He didn’t realize it was me until he got to my side. I locked my door just in time before he grabbed the door handle. “Get the f----outta that truck, you m--f----, I’ll kill you!” he screamed.
“What’s the matter, man? Can’t you take a joke?” I offered as he was about ripping the door handle off. I put my truck in reverse. and he just stood there glaring at me. As I backed up and then went around him, I rolled down my window and called to him. “Hey, Bad News! What’s that saying? Payback’s a bitch?” “F-you!” was his snappy comeback.
I started thinking on the way back that maybe I had gone a tad too far with Bad News and that now I was probably going to die or at least have to fight when we got to the yard. I didn’t see Bad News back home. (I didn’t know he was having brake valve problems.) As a matter of fact, I didn’t see him again until the following week. Instead of the confrontation I was expecting, he totally ignored me. This continued until Bad News quit a few months later in a pay dispute. He came in to pick up his last check, and we passed each other as he was leaving. “See ya on the road,” I said. “Yeah,” he said, “whatever.”
I TOLD THEM THE BABY WAS MINE
By Marccllc Lige / University Heights
In 1988 I got involved with a man who was only out to use me. I cared for him so much, I was blind to the game he and his mother and family played on me. He acted like he cared for me, and his mother and other family members really acted like they cared and accepted me. He used me for everything. I gave him anything I could. His mother lied to me, saying she was receiving a large lawsuit settlement very soon and she would repay everything I did for my boyfriend, and her, and her family, plus more, because “I was like family.”
No settlement ever came, and as I got broke he no longer wanted me, and the mother had no need to be involved. I found there was no settlement ever, and this wasn’t anything unusual for them...so...I faked being pregnant. I also took them to small claims court during this faked pregnancy. I won in court, but they didn’t pay. During this fake pregnancy they kept in touch because they wanted my “baby.”
I moved to Phoenix during this time. My best friend in Phoenix really was pregnant and had the baby around the time I would have been due. So I used her baby, who fit perfect because her baby was half white and half black, which would have been what ours would have been if it was real. So he and his family believed I had his son, as I would use my godson and bring him with me to San Diego, and they really believed the baby was mine. I was able to get money, and lots of baby clothes, etc., for him.
I did this for a little over a year and recovered all my money plus more and kept my godson in gifts. The money they sent was for the support of the baby, not my credit cards. They thought I was going to let them have the baby after he was a year old, then they could draw welfare...they thought! After that I thanked them for repaying my money and asked them how it felt to be lied to and used!! They didn’t like it! A family member advised me her family had done this to several trusting people before, especially using the “settlement con,” to get people to do things for them. And my ex-boyfriend only used women anyway.
I feel we are even!
By Victor A. Esquier / Pacific Beach
In the burning heat of the Imperial Valley teen social life crawls to a standstill, only by day, however. Like an Anne Rice cult, teens come out into the night when the temperature goes down to about 80 degrees. It is then that they emerge from their air-conditioned dens and messy bedrooms to go out and find mischief, cruise the strip, or try and engage the opposite sex.
Now the desert has few mammals overall in this case, with the exception of one particularly successful species Reithrodontomys Fulviescens, more commonly known as the harvest mouse. It is found in both North and South America, and it has a gestation period of just 21 to 24 days. It would seem to have found its ecological niche here in the breadbasket of sunny Southern California. When it breeds it has from one to seven babies at a time, and that, combined with a hyperactive libido, creates a surplus of mice in plague-like proportions. Juicy alfalfa fields dot the once-barren desert floor in huge square acres of green. Cotton, carrots, and broccoli are all grown here, providing these prolific little critters with a year-round, wholesome, well-balanced diet. At certain times of the year they swarm across the desert floor, forming a writhing mass of brown and gray twitching noses and slithering tails.
When considering the concept of revenge, its boundaries elude me. For example, is revenge when your roommate moves out and decides to eat a “last supper” of just about everything in your fridge? Or is revenge selling your husband’s silver Mercedes for 36 bucks to a biker in Brentwood when he calls from Barbados explaining a large gambling debt? Whatever revenge is, it’s deeply ingrained into many cultures. Latino culture is no exception. As a Mexican-American, I have noticed how retaliation and the Virgin of Guadalupe could all be rolled into one and be spiritually embraced at the same time. Ironically, being Catholic and noticing this paradox didn’t bother me much. The message was clear, never mind the second half of the Bible, just stick with the old stuff, “An eye for an eye...etc.” That was the underlying cultural understanding. This irony amuses some, horrifies others, and intrigues many more.
Most certainly Latino culture has a distinct respect and aptitude for revenge similar to the regional Italian cultures. When an enraged mother killed a child molester in a court who had violated her son, there was a wave of support expressed among housewives, discussed at length during afternoon cafecito. It was the judge who was criticized for his lack of compassion when he handed down his sentence that afternoon. There is also mention of cruel hacienda owners, known as patrones, who found themselves thrown into a pit with ravenous hogs by the tenant farmers, peons who found them lacking in benevolence.
So what does all this have to do with a writhing mass of mice in the Imperial Valley? You see, a certain teen fad emerged at Calexico High School in the early ’80s. It was not quite as ingenious as rebuilding a VW bug inside the principal’s office. Somehow each generation tries to outdo the last.
The tiny eyes gleamed in the headlights of the Ford pickup. My friend Oscar chewed tobacco, and I can still remember the minty smell of the Copenhagen chew. The rodents would freeze in terror then stay perfectly still when the white-hot headlights bounced off the desert sand and into their eyes. The black leather boots landed with a thud on the still-gooey asphalt. Oscar, you see, had a difficult childhood. Both parents were alcoholics and multiple-divorce cases. He sang this song as he smashed the mice into the ground with his heels, “M is for the many things you gave me....” The song was that Mother’s Day song that used the letters from the word M-O-T-H-E-R and followed each letter with a simple chorus.
Watching him crushing the tiny bodies under heel and hearing the bones snap like twigs made my stomach turn. Noticing how squeamish I had become only fanned the fire of his fervor. He began to do a little jig on the furry carpet of bleeding corpses. Then the rodents would be collected one by one and thrown into the bed of the pickup for yet a darker purpose.
Sometimes he would improvise and change the meanings of the letters for the Mother song. For example, “M is for the misery you caused me,” Splat! “O is for the outrage that I feel,” Stomp. “T is for the ptomaine poison that you gave me,” Squish. “H is for the hatred that I feel,” Thud. “E is for the emptiness inside me,” Crack! “R is for the revenge that is real,” Smash. “Put them all together...” he then picked the limp fur balls by the tail and tossed them unceremoniously into the pickup bed “...they spell mother dear, a word that means the world to me.” He then took a deep bow.
The evening wore on this way, and after just a couple of hours we had hundreds of mice. When Oscar stopped singing, I noticed how quiet the desert was at night. The smell of hay and the cicadas buzzing in the distance. I thought I could hear the sound of tiny nails and teeth clawing at the plastic lining of the bed of the truck.
Oscar had revenge in mind and the evening had just begun.
Oscar was having trouble in algebra, and he was also on the football team. When exam day came around, he made a cheat sheet to help him pass. As we left the outskirts of the valley and headed back into Calexico, he kept repeating, “Rats for the rat.” It would seem that the ASB president thought it was his duty to report Oscar’s cheating on his algebra test. Oscar was given a referral and sent to the vice principal’s office. The VP gave him Saturday school for three weeks as punishment. He also threatened to kick him off the team.
We pulled up in front of a quiet house, and Oscar got out of the truck. He hurled handfuls of dead mice everywhere — the lawn, the porch, and even the mailbox. The tiny bodies hung from the trees like obscene Christmas ornaments. Some of the bodies were still spasmodically twitching and dripping what little blood they had left. The orange glow of the sodium lights only served to make this vengeful act more ghoulish. Oscar’s only regret was that he would not be there in the morning to see the expression on the ASB president’s face.
The papers reported the story the next day. They blamed the act on a local satanic cult and said that the mouse killings were a ritual animal sacrifice. They padded the story with other unusual animal stories. In reality there was no black mass, no demon worship, or even goat’s head soup. It was just two bored teenagers, one with an axe to grind and the other with a newfound understanding of what venganza meant.
A WOODCHUCK FOR A GARDEN
By Rosemary Stuart / Del Mar
About 12 years ago I was living in the beautiful state of Vermont. The winters are long and hard. There is a special breed of hardy folk that chooses to live there year-round and love every frozen, sweltering, muddy moment of it.
Everything takes longer to do up in the Green Mountains, but most don’t seem to mind. It takes longer to drive anywhere, the towns are so spread apart. It takes longer to shop at the local feed and grain store, there are just so many tall tales that need to be repeated. And most of all, it takes an eternity to get anything to grow in the hard, rocky ground.
One summer we were hit with a nightly frost during every month. June, July, and August were no exceptions.
The only level ground to plant a sizable garden was about 75 to 100 feet above the back of the house on a rather steep hill. My brother-in-law plowed the area for my sister-in-law and I to plant a fairly large garden that summer. Plans were made and seeds were bought. The appropriate amount of time had elapsed since the application of manure. Anyone who has ever visited the Green Mountain State can attest to the fact that there is no shortage of fertilizer. The best combination is a mixture of cow manure and chicken excrement. Better known to the locals as Vermont Gold.
Watering this rather large garden was no easy task either. If the garden hose wasn’t available, then buckets of water had to be hauled up from the spigot attached to the house. One long trip after another had been made so my dear little seedlings wouldn’t get thirsty and wither away.
After the first trimester of tilling, removing rocks and finally planting had been completed. After, the gestation period of nurturing my little seeds. Then the joy of seeing those first tiny green shoots made me so proud, so excited, so happy to be called a gardener.
You have to understand one thing. I was born in New York City. A tree may grow in Brooklyn, but I don’t know anyone in all the five boroughs that ever took the credit for planting it there.
Now it is late summer. The plants are growing strong, and I can start picking the fruits of my labor. And labor I did.
One afternoon I took my usual walk up to the garden to check on the water and the weeds that need constant attention or they will devour all the healthy new plants. I was shocked! Bewildered! Dismayed! I would even go so far as to say I was sick to my stomach.
What had happened to my garden? My sweet little carrot tops? My succulent lettuce? My swelling squash? Gone. All gone. It looked as if someone had gone over it with a lawn mower. I couldn’t find any tire tracks. Was it a herd of deer? Did they drop down from the mountain heights for a late-night snack? But alas! No hoof prints on the ground either. What could have done such a heinous act?
Then the answer peeked out from behind the potato plants. He wasn’t through committing his crime yet. A furry, brown head bobbed up and down a few times until I could make it out. Marmota monax. More commonly known in North America as the woodchuck.
I could hardly contain my scorn. I started chasing the fuzz ball through the rows of com, around the squash, and past the stubble that once was a promising full head of iceberg. Then it took off up the hill. It ran right by the lonely pine tree and disappeared into a hole in the ground. They are also known as groundhogs. I was so angry I could have reached right into that hole and pulled it out by its tail. But I had a better idea.
I kicked as much loose soil as I possibly could and stamped it hard to pack it in. Then knowing a little about these fuzzy creatures, I found its back door, another hole they dig as an easy access. I filled that second hole with more dirt and packed it as I did the first. I knew this wouldn’t suffocate or even frighten the menacing marauder, but it would buy me some valuable time.
Time to execute the rest of my plan. The plan I now had in mind to execute this rather large rodent.
I ran down the hill, past the driveway, and into my small, humble abode. In the closet on the top shelf in all its shining glory was Ruger’s finest. The Blackhawk .357 magnum with a six-inch barrel. Fully loaded and ready for action. I was no amateur with firearms and was a fairly accurate shot. But just to be on the safe side, I grabbed not one, but two fully shelled gun belts as a backup. It might turn out to be a long afternoon.
With both gun belts slung across either shoulder, I looked like something out of a B-rated Mexican Western movie. But I was mad and I was fully armed and I was going to get even.
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a woodchuck for a garden.
I stalked the killing ground. I waited patiently for my prey. I stood between both holes, waiting for some movement from underground. Aiming my firearm at one hole, then the other. My legs comfortably spread apart. My arms extended in front of me, the elbows locked.
Waiting... Waiting... Waiting....
Then the moment came when I saw a slight movement in the dirt. I could tell he was trying to dig his way out. Out into the fresh air. Possibly even back up to the garden.
Patience. Wait for the right moment. First the top of its head. Then the eyes. He doesn’t see me if I stand perfectly still. Then the full head. If I wait too long he might hop out and run. Too soon and his head might disappear below ground.
NOW! One loud, fiery report from the barrel of the .357 and the deed was done.
I don’t just kill for the sake of killing. I said a little prayer for his departed soul and grabbed it by the neck. I hauled it down the hill, called my neighbor, and asked her for a good recipe for woodchuck, i figure it ate a healthy diet before it died so it couldn’t be that bad. She suggested I marinate it for a day, and dinner was ready for the next night.
Some say revenge is a dish better served cold. But you know, it’s not too bad with carrots and potatoes either.
THE FAKE MEMO
By Joshua Board / Rancho Penasquitos
I used to work on a morning show for Magic 102, a former classic rock station here in San Diego. I usually got to work before the other DJs, and I’d spend a few minutes talking to the overnight jock. One morning he was asking me questions about a DJ that worked with us. I thought it was a little unusual, because we never talked about this person before. We usually just talked about basketball or the weirdos that call in at 2:00 a.m. requesting songs we’ve never heard of, usually from local bands they’re in or some obscure live Deep Purple tune that was only released in Guam.
Well, when I went to my mailbox, I saw a personal note from this DJ he had just asked me about. I thought it was a weird coincidence, but then it hit me. Here’s a DJ that works overnight, the one time nobody else is around. Maybe he was playing Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick,” and during the ten-minute drum solo, he went looking through other people’s boxes reading their notes. So I asked him if he looked at the stuff in my box, and he said no. But he hesitated just long enough to make me realize he actually had.
So I pressed him a little, and he admitted it, giving some lame excuse about thinking my box was his. I really didn’t mind that much, until I realized — nobody really has privacy from this guy.
We had a boss that typed memos all the time, so I decided to get revenge by typing a fake memo — complete with a bogus signature of my boss. It basically said, “We are going to fire ‘Jerry’ next week, but we would prefer he quit on his own. I know that you’re usually the first person to see him in the morning, so why don’t you tell him to send resumes out, because there isn’t much job security in radio. Make sure you’re very subtle....”
After I typed the memo, I put it in my own box. I figured, if he didn’t look in my box, he wouldn’t see it, and no harm done. If he is nosy again, he’ll be shitting bricks. When I came in the next morning, I made the usual small talk and went to see the messages in my box. After I re-read my bogus memo, I started tearing it up in front of the trash can. Jerry said, very innocently, “What’s that?” I acted nervous, purposely, saying, “Oh that. It was nothing.” I walked into another studio, and he followed me. He said, “So, anything interesting going on?” At this point, I assumed he had looked in my box again. I was ready to gut him. I said, “I’ve been thinking about sending out some resumes. Have you ever thought about...” Before I could finish my sentence, he said, “No. Why should I? Do you know something I don’t?” I replied, “No, but it’s always a good idea to see what jobs are out there.”
All morning I felt like the mission was accomplished. I figured I’d let him go a few days being scared, and then I’d let him off the hook. Well, when my boss got there in the morning, he yelled, "Josh!" I walked into his office, and he was holding a copy of this fake memo, with a note from Jerry that said, “If you don’t want me to work here, tell me yourself.” My boss asked me to explain, which I did. He laughed, although I don’t think he cared for my forging his signature.
Jerry never admitted to looking in my box this second time and tried to say some other DJ must have made the copy. So for the next few months. I’d occasionally leave notes in my box that said, “Still haven’t learned your lesson, have you?”
THEY FOOLED WITH A PRO
By Richard Markall / Wherever
During the summer of 1967 I traveled with my father, who at the time was an umpire for the old California Pacific Coast League, a minor league division of the American League.
My father was doing a three-game series in Bakersfield, the temperature was in the hundreds, the fans were barbaric, the ball players were bush league, and so was the management. By the third inning of the third game of the series, there had been two player fistfights, at least one bean ball, and my father had thrown out both managers and four players. It was a miserable series.
After the end of the third game, we had to leave immediately for the next series in Modesto with two new teams. When my dad and I got to our car, we found all four tires flat. Apparently someone had just let the air out. Needless to say, my dad was furious. He called the auto club and waited. While the tires were being inflated, a couple of guys walked by and told my dad that they saw two of the players letting the air out. My dad was livid.
He packed his umpire gear in the trunk and immediately drove back to the hotel. We went straight to the room, and he went straight to the telephone. Grabbing the local Bakersfield phone book, he looked up a number and made a call.
He called a prominent restaurant in Bakersfield and introduced himself as the manager of the visiting team. In honor of having a winning series, the manager [my dad] wanted to make reservations for 20 top sirloin steak dinners, champagne, and the works for his winning team. The owner of the restaurant was more than happy to take the reservation, stating that the red carpet would be rolled out for the team; he was looking at a high dollar tab.
After my dad had finished the call to the restaurant, he called the motel where the home team was billeted. He asked to speak to the team manager. The following conversation went on: “Hello, I’m the owner of the so-and-so restaurant, and in honor of your three-game series in our city, I’d like to invite you, your coaching staff, and your team members to a free top sirloin dinner with salad, dessert, and complimentary champagne.”
After the conversation was over, my dad and I packed, loaded the car, and got out of town.
Two days later we had finished our umpire duties and were spending the night just outside of L.A. My dad came back to our hotel room with a copy of the Los Angeles Times. In the middle of the front page of the sports section it read, "Major Brou-ha-ha in Bakersfield restaurant — 13 arrested.”
Apparently what my father thought would happen did happen. The supposedly invited team showed up, ate, drank, and became merry and then was presented with a check for over $400. The team manager made a stink, a fistfight broke out, the restaurant was trashed, the cops were called, 13 players were arrested, along with the manager.
I read the article, laughed like hell, looked at my dad. His comment was, “They shouldn’t screw around with a pro!”
End of story, we packed, loaded the car, and came on home to San Diego. I forgot all about what happened until six months later when an article appeared in Sports Illustrated recounting the whole incident, with the bottom line being the team, as a whole, was fined $1000 and had to pay for all restaurant damage. Revenge is sweet!
HOW DID GEORGE EXPLAIN THAT DOPE TO THE COPS?
By J.R. Enynte / Rancho Bernardo
Champ was not your average dog. He was a mixed breed, but he looked just like a purebred collie. He was every bit as intelligent and friendly as the famous collie Lassie. Champ loved to go with me on my morning jog and play catch in the evenings after I got home from work. He had a great disposition and a unique personality that almost made him seem human. Everyone that came into contact with Champ loved him. Except for George, my next-door neighbor.
George doesn't like animals. The day I moved next door and introduced myself, he quickly pointed out this fact. He even warned he would take a shotgun to him, and that went for cats too. He said the only thing worth having and spending money on was a car. I suspect he loved his car as much as I loved Champ, I got used to George constantly trying to rid the neighborhood of all pets. I simply turned a deaf ear to his ranting and raving, George would sometimes complain to me, stating that Champ's kept him up all night. I tried explaining to George that he night spends the night sleeping at the foot of my bed and any barking would have woken me up too. George has even gone so far as to call the police to complain about the noise. I can think of occasions where I'd be awakened by the doorbell officer there questioning me about my dog.
One night after dinner, I went to the back yard looking for Champ. I spotted him in the corner of the yard, lying on his side. I called for him but he didn't respond. As I approached Champ,
I realized that something was very wrong. Champ was panting and whimpering as I stroked his face. Needless to say, I put Champ in the car and raced him to the animal hospital. Champ was severely ill, as he vomited twice in my car.
I filled out paperwork as the veterinarian examined Champ.
I waited an eternity as my best friend was being attended to by a frantic medical team. Eventually, a nurse called me into the back room. I took one look at the doctor’s eyes and I knew what the outcome of this conversation would be. Champ had died; there was nothing that they could do. From the severe abdominal bleeding, the doctor suggested that Champ had ingested a caustic substance capable of burning and destroying the esophageal airway and stomach lining.
It was one of the saddest nights in my life. I threw myself into my work as a form of recovery therapy, keeping mostly to myself during the evenings and on weekends. About a month had passed and I was trimming some bushes when I heard George say hi to me. I merely nodded and continued with my gardening. Then George said something very strange to me. He said he was sorry about Champ passing away. I knew that he wasn’t sorry about Champ. He stood there and lied through his teeth. Then he tried to be sympathetic and mentioned how helpless I must’ve felt seeing Champ in such pain after being poisoned. I didn’t look up or respond. I just kept working.
It wasn’t until later that I realized that George knew Champ had been poisoned. But how did he know? I hadn’t told anyone. He knew because he gave Champ the poison. Champ was dead because some car-loving, motorhead asshole doesn’t like animals. I decided to focus my attention on the one thing that gave George some pleasure in life, his car.
For months, I became obsessed with the idea of tormenting George by performing childish pranks on his car. One time I stole the hubcaps from his wheels during the middle of the night. He eventually got replacement hubcaps, which I promptly removed, and replaced his old hubcaps back on the car. I took a hammer to the new hubcaps and put them on his porch early one morning. About a week later, I shoved a potato into the tailpipe of his car. I spied on George through a bedroom curtain as he got in and started his car. KA- BOOM/It was one of the loudest noises I’ve ever heard as the potato was expelled from the tailpipe due to the increasing exhaust gases from the engine. George leapt a few feet in the air and I laughed my head off. That was only the beginning. Flat tires, scratched paint, and small dents became my specialty. Iooking back, I guess I wanted George and his car to suffer the way that Champ was made to suffer,
I eventuaJJy moved to California for a fresh start, away from that jerk George. But before I moved, I had one last task to perform. I taped some dope underneath George's car and replaced his license plates with some stolen ones. Then I anonymously reported to the police that George's car was involved with drug trafficking. I heard later from some of the other neighbors that George had a heck of a time trying to explain his innocence.
I’ve got two new dogs now. I love them both dearly, but I will always remember Champ. I recently let my new dogs help me get back at George. I mailed a box of their turds to George in an old candy box. I would’ve loved to have seen George’s face when he opened the lid. My actions didn’t bring Champ back to me, but I sure felt better knowing that I screwed with George’s life after he had screwed with mine.
HIT ON ME AND DIE
By Robert Wardrop /Pacific Beach
While recovering from a hangover several years ago, I wandered into a small coffee shop with a friend. Our waitress was an attractive young brunette named Lana who was wearing a big, flashing neon sign that read HIT ON ME. Undaunted by the man-killer demeanor and inspired by my friend’s challenge to obtain her phone number, I tried my best to be suave at 10:00 a.m. with a hangover. I failed miserably. Still, she gave me her number and invited me to be her date at a party she was having the following weekend.
The same friend dropped me off at the party. He promised he would be back later in the evening to check up on me. I walked in, assured that I would be Lana’s date. She greeted me hesitantly and made her way through the crowd. When she stopped next to a muscle-bound Adonis who had cool oozing out of every orifice, I realized I had been harboring delusions of grandeur. I needed a drink.
My friend didn’t show up. I got sloppy drunk and passed out. When I woke up with a woman named Megan in my arms, I thought the night had gone well. Once again delusions of grandeur. When she told me what the other girls at the party had done to me after I passed out, I laughed in disbelief until I realized that my underwear was missing. It seemed they had a rule that the first to pass out at a party was subject to being stripped, left naked, and re-dressed without skivvies.
My friend eventually rescued me, and Megan and I became close friends. She lived in L.A. and I lived in Orange County so we didn’t see each other much, but we talked on the phone regularly. We were primarily friends, but the sexual tension between us was thick. It was only a matter of time.
About one year later, Lana (the waitress) asked Megan to meet her at a nightclub. She had recently been dumped, and she wanted a night out with the girls. Megan didn’t really like the little bitch, but she accepted and then called to invite me. She laid out the plan. I filled in the details. Revenge would be sweet.
When we arrived at the nightclub, Lana was no doubt taken aback by my presence. Megan explained that we had been seeing each other for six months and that we felt it was time to come clean. The charade had begun. Lana seemed unnerved, but it did not seem to bother her much. I was discarded merchandise. She gave me a look that said, “I could still have you if I wanted you.” She was on the prowl. She had a broken heart to nurse.
I was looking my best, feeling good on the dance floor, and Lana was staring me down, waiting for the right time to pounce. Megan and I were honestly attracted to each other, so we played our roles with ease. When we kissed it was for real. When we held each other it felt right. We did take it rather far when we gave each other that look that only lovers know, but it was in the name of vengeance and part of the charade.
I took Lana’s sister aside and told her in detail how I felt about Megan. She said she could tell by the way I looked at her. It was working. Lana spied us talking from the dance floor. I took the one-and-a-half-carat fake diamond ring from my pocket and said, “I have been waiting for the right time. I think this is it, with all of her friends here, what do you think?” She gave me an enthusiastic go-ahead. Lana tried to attract her sister’s attention to find out what we had talked about. I made my way up to the DJ, slipped him a twenty, and asked him to dedicate a song to Bob and Megan since I was about to propose.
As I was walking back to where Megan stood, he played the song and made the announcement. All eyes in the club were on me, including Lana’s. I got down on one knee and proposed.
“Megan, I know that we have had our share of rough times. But I feel that right now we are at our best. When I envision what my life will be like ten years from now, I always see you there with me. I couldn’t think of anyone I would rather spend the rest of my life with. I have finally found what I have been looking for all these years. Will you give me the honor of being my wife?”
Megan’s response deserved an Oscar. Her eyes lit up. She shed a tear of joy and accepted. We kissed, the crowd cheered, and champagne was on the house. I glanced at Lana and my vengeance was complete. The look in her eyes said it all.
She had come nursing a wounded ego. It was her first night out being “single” again. She had planned to play the role of mother hen with her entourage. She came to break a few hearts. Instead I had shown up. No big deal, she could rope me in. She had done it once, why not again? In the end she not only failed but had been witness to a pseudo-friend finding the happiness she had been so close to obtaining, yet let slip away. She was a femme fatale without a victim. She was alone. For a brief moment I almost felt a hint of sadness for her. The lost look on her face was pitiable, but it didn’t last. I had aimed and struck my mark. I had wounded her where it hurt her most — her vanity. Her ego lay in shattered remnants before the altar of vengeance. Why should I help her pick up the pieces? I kissed Megan and realized this was my gourmet affair. Vengeance never tasted so sweet.
THE OLD WRIGLEY S GUM TRICK
By L. Fay Hole / La Jolla
An adrenaline rush accelerated my departure from work. I drove home in record time, changed clothes in record time, and was finishing the last of a ham sandwich as I scrunched into the back seat of Kurt’s Honda. Three of us were on our way to see Lenny Kravitz and the Cult at the Sports Arena. I was particularly looking forward to the show because I hadn’t been out and about in a while. A recent leg injury had drastically limited my activities. This concert offered the opportunity to join the living and remain comfortably seated.
Once there, my comrades led me into the arena lobby and helped me climb the steps to Section T. We emerged from a staircase tunnel into the core of the arena and took just a few steps to the left to find our third-row loge seats. Looking to our right we had a full view of the stage. As the phenomenal Kravitz worked his magic, I happily tapped the foot of my fully operational leg, sipped my Coke, and sang intermittently along. Serene satisfaction.
But then the Cult appeared on-stage. A number of very insensitive people rushed up from the lobby, clumped against the railing, and completely obstructed our view. We asked the discourteous group to take a seat. “Please!” A gentleman behind us explained to them that none of us could see and again asked them to move. Anxiety levels rose. Moments later a yellow-jacketed usher escorted them off the landing, down the steps.
Immediately, however, two guys came bouncing back up, one a scruffy blond, carefully maintaining a two- to three-inch distance between his plastic domestic beer cup and mouth, the other an abnormally tall male with long, black, wavy hair, dressed in faded jeans and a glossy black biker jacket. The latter was obviously trying hard to make a fashionable impression. As I recall, he had a couple of silver bracelets on his wrists and a thick silver chain draped around the ankle of one boot. Truly a polished personification of MTV hard rock chic.
Anyway, these two obnoxious beer-guzzling cretins were enough to block my view. Straining to be heard above the music, I screamed requests that they take themselves elsewhere. Once, then twice they acknowledged me, but simply smirked and quickly turned back to the stage. So I mustered my strength and hobbled down the steps to find a yellow-jacket to remove them. Quickly, he helped me back up to my seat and led them away.
But they came right back.
Although they left occasionally for more refreshments, they were never gone for long. My friends finally decided to stand for a better view. Because physical malady precluded standing at the railing as well, and there wasn’t another alternative, I resigned myself to accept the situation. I was frustrated and angry. I couldn't believe that these cocky Cult fans were ruining my evening. Were their nosebleed seats too far from the stage? Were they too intoxicated to find them again? Or, more likely, were they simply afraid to stray too far from the beer booths?
A half-hour or more later and no longer able to see any of the performance, I lost interest in the music. The blonde of the duo had suddenly disappeared but was instantaneously replaced by someone else. By this time I was too tired to continue pleading. I began watching the longhaired Ian Astbury (Cult vocalist) look-alike flop his head to the music. His mass of black hair moved back and forth, left and right, back and forth, left and right. It was almost entrancing.
Reaching into my purse for entertainment, I found a pack of Wrigley’s spearmint gum. Without hesitation I chose to double my pleasure. I broke a piece into fifths and began chewing one section. Once moist and perfectly gummy, I tossed it at the longhaired, leather-jacketed, head-banging, irreverent jerk. It landed in his hair. And stuck! Although the second piece fell short, the others (including parts of another stick) landed here and there among the dark locks. He continued to bop and flop, obliviously.
Then, for the first time in some two hours, I smiled. The once-fluid movements of his proud mane had become awkward. Because his hair was so dark, the results of my attack were fairly discrete. But I watched closely. The more he wiggled, the more his hair clumped. It knotted, chaotically clustered, coagulated and bunched. What a wonderful mess!
As the encore ended, he flew off down the stairs.
Would he have to cut out tangles or larger clumps? Would someone share with him the age-old peanut butter secret? Would he pass out without noticing the pebbles of gum clotting his hair and allow sleeping on it to spread the effect? Every possibility made me feel better, and although I am not particularly proud of this contemptuous act, I am not ashamed of it either. A small amount of revenge can be remarkably cleansing. I have no intention of going through life accumulating anger from such incidents. Under the circumstances, his hair loss (great or small) was a gain for me of peace of mind.
By C.A. Akin / University City
Actually, I didn’t get even, I got more than even, I got ahead. In 1974 I was living on a U.S. Air Force base in the Seychelles, a group of small granite islands in the Indian Ocean. Great duty. Only four degrees off the equator, a low temperature for an entire year was 70 degrees, and that was during a driving tropical rainstorm. The island had no indigenous people, but during the 1800s, France and Great Britain alternately ruled the islands, each colonial empire participating in the importation of slaves to labor on the tea plantation and keep the master’s quarters. It is from these slaves and French and English colonials that most of the islands’ inhabitants are descended.
The isolation of the Seychelles has protected them from exploitation, and a lack of natural resources limits their ability to prosper. As a result, many of the island women view liaisons with visiting service personnel as a golden opportunity to leave the island, maybe their only opportunity. Many of these women are very good at manipulating these relationships, some of which are probably genuine, but unfortunately many others find their source of attraction more in the passport than in the man. The only opportunity some of them will ever have to see the real world outside their island is to find and marry a naive visitor with the invisible “passport” tattooed on his forehead.
Enter Michelle, the subject of my revenge. Michelle was the on-again,off-again companion of another fellow in my group, we called him “the Reverend.” He received that title not through ordination, he just spent a great deal of time preaching his faith and was certain everyone would sooner or later see the benefits of his particular religion if he just kept at it long enough. He was the roommate of my best buddy, Bob. Poor Bob suffered the sermons and heard every detail of the intensely fiery relationship between Michelle and the Reverend. We did not need television, this relationship was a soap opera extraordinaire, complete with late-night battles sometimes resulting in hand-to-hand combat. The mind games between Michelle and the Reverend eventually included the Reverend’s worst nightmare: “OOPS, dear, I missed something this month,” only to find out she was “just testing him.” (Seems the Reverend wasn’t of the celibate variety!)
The fireworks between these two would have been hilariously funny, except that Bob and I often paid in sweat and dollars. See, Bob and the Reverend had gone in together on a car, a small early 1970s vintage Datsun. Their deal was 50-50 all the way. Michelle and the Reverend would tear all hell out of the car during their constant fights, and Bob would fix it! Since Bob was my best buddy, that really meant that Bob and I would fix it. Well, my mind was made up to seek retribution after two destroyed transmissions, two broken door locks (Michelle broke into the car when the Reverend refused to let her in!), and a broken window (she tossed a rock at him — missed, too bad!). Too much of my spare time was used helping Bob keep this car running, and I vowed to find a way to get even.
One day. Bob and I hit upon an incredibly appropriate method to get Michelle, and, as it turned out, the Reverend as well! Bob had the community Datsun all day, and the Reverend was to use it that night. That day we added two wires. Small ones. Very small ones, about the same diameter as thread. We ran the wires from the engine compartment through the firewall. From the firewall, we ran the wires under the floor mat, up under the passenger seat (Michelle’s seat, of course!), and threaded them in and out of the seat cushion. The wires were not well insulated, but that was just what we wanted. We left the wires disconnected in the engine compartment, awaiting an opportunity to try ’em out.
That night the Reverend went downtown and picked up Michelle. He brought her back to the base for a movie and parked the car just a few short yards from where Bob and I waited. After they entered the movie, we opened the hood and quickly connected both wires to the top of one spark plug! We used two wires just in case one broke; you can’t be too careful with revenge!
I do not remember the movie that night, but I could scarcely contain my anticipation as I imagined all sorts of possible outcomes from our effort, many of which included permanent physical and/or psychological damage to Michelle. Hell, at this point the more the merrier, I figured! After the movie, the moment for which Bob and I had been waiting finally arrived! We watched breathlessly as the Reverend and Michelle approached and entered the car. There was just enough light from a nearby street lamp, and we were just close enough that we could see each splendid moment of her reaction.
The instant the Reverend started the car, we saw Michelle’s head jerk up. She let out a yell of surprise as she felt 12,000 volts from the car’s ignition system stinging her all across the bottom of her thighs (I forgot to mention she was wearing shorts!). Since her hand was grounded on the car door handle, we later confirmed, she got a pretty good shock on the starting of the engine. (Note: Any back-yard mechanic can testify that this shock, although painful, is not lethal. It will cause one to react quickly, and that sudden movement sometimes results in bangs and bruises as one recoils away from the offending wire.)
Well, recoiling works fine for the mechanic under the hood, but it is a lot tougher when one is sitting on the wires! Meanwhile, trying to figure out why the car was misfiring (due to the thin insulation on the wire along the firewall and under the floorboard) is our hero, the Reverend. So he does what any red-blooded American-grown hot-rodder does in a similar situation. He guns the engine! Varoom! goes the engine. Spit-sputter goes the wire. “Aieeeeeee!” goes Michelle! By this time, several seconds into her worst nightmare, she is flopping around like a beached fish and trying to yell, “Turn it off, stupid!” But all that gets out is an unintelligible half-gurgle half-scream. Good thing she was making lots of noise, ’cause Bob and I were in the bushes absolutely doubled over with glee! It was working beyond our wildest dreams, and it wasn’t over yet!
The Reverend was at a total loss to figure why the engine was suddenly missing, but his attempt to concentrate on the problem was severely hampered by the bouncing of the car, as Michelle went from the seat to the roof and back again in rapid succession! Michelle’s screams also did not help him hear the engine, even though he was still gassing it pretty good, and he was about to tell her to settle down and stop jumping around, when she reached over and grabbed his arm. Well, then he got shocked as well. Now he realized there was something drastically amiss and finally turned the key, killing the engine and mercifully ending Michelle’s torture.
With the engine safely off, he groped under and around Michelle’s seat and found the wires. Unfortunately for him, but in another fantastic piece of luck for us, he actually started laughing. He knew exactly what had happened and who had done it, but he just could not help himself. Now Michelle thought he did it! She screamed his name in vain, described just exactly what he could do with himself for the rest of eternity, jumped out of the car, slammed the door so hard the latch broke (for the second time, by the way; Bob and I had just fixed it the week before), and stomped over toward a phone where she called for a taxi to come pick her up. The Reverend followed her, imploring her to believe he did not do it, but she was certain that he at least was in on the prank, even if he wasn’t the one who planted the wires. Whether the Reverend knew about it or not, she knew who was responsible. And Bob and I were despised from then on.
Amazingly, she and the Reverend did not split up after this, and on that small island, it is pretty hard not to attend the same movies, parties, etc. We ran into her and the Reverend frequently. Those encounters were short and incredibly cold, as you might imagine!
I left the Seychelles before she returned the favor, and as far as I know, so did Bob. Michelle, wherever you are, thanks for the memory!
By John Moore / Golden Hill
I have waited tables for nine years. Allow me to preface this story with the fact that I enjoy serving people. As a waiter, I have met celebrities, stars, and outcasts. I try to treat everyone with equal dignity and respect. During my career I have heard a lot of stories concerning cheap customers and seen a great deal of cheap antics performed by servers in vain attempts to get revenge on a table that “stiffed” the server. I’ve seen a waitress throw 52 cents in a customer’s face after she returned the change on a $60.48 tab. (For the mathematically challenged, 10 percent of the tab would have equaled $6.05; 15 percent would have equaled $9.07; 52 cents is .08 percent of the tab. And also very rude.) Her moment of revenge cost her her job. Although I have no patience for people who do not believe in tipping 15 to 20 percent, I have always tried to be a professional and learn to grin and bear it. That is, until I met Marge.
I was working at Bennigan’s, a major restaurant chain located in Dallas in 1993. It was a summer day, and we were near the end of the lunch shift. I had just been “sat” a table of two, and I approached the table with a friendly smile on my face, complimentary bread in my hand, and a courteous greeting. “Good afternoon, ladies,” I said to the two women seated at table 32. “May I bring you something to drink while you are looking at the menu?” No response. Dead air. I patiently waited a couple of moments, then I said, “Perhaps you need a couple of minutes. I'll be right back.”
As I turned to leave, the woman with the blond bouffant hair muttered, “Young man, I said I wanted a cup of coffee.”
“Certainly,” I replied. I apologized that I didn’t hear her and asked the woman sitting next to her what she would like. She said, “Marge, what was the name of that drink I had the other day?” Marge, the woman with the blond bouffant hairdo, was abrasive to the other woman as she spoke. “Damnit, I can’t keep up with everything you do!” “Well,” the other woman began, “it was a virgin something and it had strawberries.” I asked the woman if she would like me to bring her a virgin strawberry daiquiri. “Ohhh, that sounds good,” the younger woman replied. “Aw, crap,” Marge said angrily as she pounded her fist on the table. “I ain’t payin’ four bucks for no damn strawberry Slurpee. Just bring her a Coke, for Chrissake.”
As I went to the bar to get the Coke, I thought to myself, “This is just great. One Coke. One coffee. And one bad attitude.” I wasn’t going to let the situation bother me, and I was determined to kill the angry woman with kindness. You can’t judge a book by its cover in this business. The biggest tip I ever got ($260 on a $240 tab) came from a guy dressed in parachute pants, with a five-day shadow, toothpick in his mouth, Peterbilt baseball cap, and his name was Bubba. No lie. I got $260 just because he was in a generous mood. I didn’t think table 32 was going to be overly generous, but I still had to do the best I could to please the couple.
I had the Coke in my hand and I went to get the coffee. I put a fresh pot on so all my customers would be satisfied. I went back to the table. “Here you are, ladies.” I gave the Coke to the younger of the two women, and I placed an empty cup of coffee in front of Marge. The cup was empty, but I took care to place it on top of a saucer accompanied by a spoon and with plenty of cream and sugar. “Ma’am,” I said, “I put a fresh pot of coffee on, and as soon as it is ready I will bring it out.”
Most customers appreciate fresh coffee. Marge wanted it just as stale as her personality. She began screaming, “What the hell kinda place is this? You don’t have any coffee in this whole damn restaurant!” “Yes, ma’am,” I stated apologetically, “we did have some coffee, but I tossed it out because it wasn’t very fresh. I put on a fresh pot. As soon as it is...” “Well, I just can’t believe it!” she interrupted. “You don’t have coffee? You don’t have coffee!” (I guess she really needed a fix.) “No coffee in this whole restaurant? I cain’t believe it! I jest cain’t believe it!” She continued on her tirade while I stood there thinking, “She’s Texan. I’m Texan. Who the hell in Texas drinks hot coffee when it’s 105 degrees outside?" Nevertheless, as she went on and on about how inept the service was (Well, she didn’t actually say “inept.” Her dictionary didn’t work too well), I kept a smile on my face and went to get the coffee.
After the ladies received their drinks, they calmed down a little. I should say Marge calmed down, because the other woman was no problem at all.
I believe she even felt sorry for me for having to put up with her rude and ill-mannered friend. All of the other waitstaff and management also sympathized with me because they had heard how she was speaking to me. I had decided to do the best I could do with table 32. Just wait on them and get it over with. I still had a smile on my face, but it was no longer as friendly as it had been. It was more like the smile an executioner must try to keep before he deals with his unpleasant job. The manager was no help. He wished me good luck and crept back up to the front door to greet customers.
I went back to get the order. The younger woman ordered a bacon cheeseburger cooked medium-well. “And for you, ma’am?” I asked Marge. “I’ll have the same,” she grunted. “And how would you like that cooked?” I asked politely. “Medium-rare.” She stressed it again for emphasis. “ Medium -rare. And I want the lettuce and tomato on the side.” “No problem.” I explained that the burger was served open face, and that the lettuce and tomato would come on the side. “No, damnit," she fired at me, “I want a separate plate for the lettuce and tomato, and I want my french fries cooked extra crispy, and I don’t even want to see a pickle. Get that?” “Yes, ma’am,” I said with a smile and I repeated her order. The last thing I said to her was “and you want it cooked medium-rare." “That’s right,” she said.
Guess what? You already know, don’t you? She wanted her burger cooked medium-well. When I checked back on the table after I delivered the food. Marge tore into me like a greedy brat on Christmas day. She ripped me open with, “I just knew you’d screw my order up!” “Marge,” her friend exclaimed as she came to my aid, “you said medium-rare. I was the one who said medium-well.” “Damnit,” Marge screamed, “how the hell am I supposed to know how the meat is cooked? It’s his damn job to tell me! I apologized profusely, I got her a new burger and I brought out fresh, hot, crispy french fries. Marge choked it all down very quickly. She licked the grease off of her hands as I refilled her coffee for the seventh time. After I took her plate from her, she reached across the table and started chewing on what was left of her friend’s meat. The last thing I had to bring this customer from hell was a to-go box for the slice of tomato and lettuce she didn’t touch. Why take home a slice of tomato? I didn’t know and I didn’t ask.
I was just about finished with this whole mess and thankful that it was over. I politely asked the duo if I could get them anything else and they said, “No. Just the check.” Music to my ears. A thousand trumpets sounded; 76 trombones led the big parade! With 110 coronets right behind! It is finished.... I got the check and took it back. What did they have in their hands? What are they doing? Oh, my God, they were playing cards! I contemplated homicide. In my head I saw scenes from a new movie, Natural Born Killer Waiters.
I regained my professional attitude and placed the check in the center of the table. I thanked both of the women and wished them a good day. I told them I would be happy to get them more coffee while they played cards. And let me tell you, these two could play. And play. And an hour and a half later, they were still playing. When customers camp on your table, it means you lose money. I lost three tables because of this couple, but I was still clinging to the hope that they might make it up to me with a generous tip. I could hear Elvis on the radio...“Now and then, there’s a fool such as I.” All of my other tables had cleared out, and I was standing at the front door speaking with the manager. We were discussing what side work needed to be completed, and he asked me, “Are the Branch Davidians still on 32?” Branch Davidians” was our term for campers that year, since the people in Waco had still not left that camp. “Hell, yes, I chuckled. “We re gonna need more than the ATF to get these two outta here.” “Go finish up in the back,” he said, 'and I’ll keep an eye....”
Just then Marge and her friend came giggling up to the front door. Marge was pulling the underwear out of the crack of her butt as she said, “The money is on the table.” “Thank you, ladies,” my manager and I sounded in unison. “Have a good day.” My manager was holding the door open for the pair. Marge turned around. She had 25 cents in her hand. She held the quarter between her index finger and her thumb.
She raised her hand and dangled the quarter in front of me. With a very snide grimace, she said, “Here, boy, this is for you.” She dropped the quarter at my feet and laughed demonically as she walked out the door. A quarter. Here, boy, this is for you.
I was boiling. I remembered my friend who had thrown the change at that customer and said, “Here, you need this more than I do.” Then I remembered what had happened to her. I needed my job more than I needed revenge on this trash. (Not really, but my manager was standing right there.) She had not only stiffed me, she had humiliated me and had cost me money by occupying the table for so long. Forget the money she had cost me. She was rude, obnoxious, and she had gotten under my skin. I resolved to blow it off. I was better than her, and I took hope in the adage “What goes around comes around.” And boy, did it.
On my way home from work, I was still thinking about how this creepy woman with the bouffant hair had bugged the hell out of me. Maybe I should have thrown the change at her. Why didn’t I stand up to this moron? Wait a second.
Maybe I deserved it. Perhaps I had said something or done something to offend her. I recalled all of the events over and over in my head. I had been kind. I had been wronged. “She got you,” I told myself, Just get over it.
I’m an actor working as a waiter. This is one of those few times when that fact actually matters! I was doing a show in Dallas at the time, and I played a character who wore a mustache and beard. I am usually clean shaven. My character also ate carrot cake throughout the show, and I was responsible for all of my props. These circumstances led me to Skaggs-Alpha Beta, a major grocery store chain, about a week and a half later.
I had gone into the store to get my cake. I walked past the last checkout lane and in the distance saw the back of a woman who had a blond bouffant hairdo. “No way,” I thought. “It couldn’t be. That would be too weird.” Dallas is a big city, and I was on the other side of town from where I worked. I walked over in front of the woman to get a better look. I stared at her for several moments. “Couldn’t be,” I thought. When she reached into the crack of her butt to release her underwear, I knew it had to be her. Bordered in blue with white letters like a beacon of redemption I saw her name tag. It said “MARGE,” but to me it spelled revenge.
I quickly grabbed a cart and raced down each aisle of the store. I threw everything into my cart that I could get my greedy hands on, and all I could think was, “She works here, she works here. I found you!” I tossed in milk, soap, dog food, frozen food, cat food, a hair dryer, three cases of detergent, nine kinds of coffee, I wanted it all, and I was out for revenge. I couldn’t stop at one cart. I got another one and made another round in the store. Finally I had two carts overflowing with grocery items, and I headed to lane number four. It was checkout time, and it had been a week and a half in the making! Oh glorious checkout. Oh sad day for Marge the checkout woman!
As I approached the end of the line, I wondered if she would recognize me. I said hello, scratched my beard, and for a moment I thought she knew who I was. She hesitated as she began to ring up all of my things. As soon as I realized my disguise was working, I went to work on her. She didn’t recognize me. She was just upset that she had all of that work ahead of her. She had plenty to ring up, and I wasn’t about to make it easy for her. “Excuse me,” I said as she rang up a box of dog food, “I believe that item was on sale.” It wasn’t; I was merely toying with the fool. I proceeded to demand a price check on many items. I did this between finding defects on various things that she rang up.
Everything I could ask to make her job a living hell came to me in a vision of blinding revenge. “That box is crushed. I want a new one. That can is dented. I want a new one. Did you notice the expiration date on that milk? It’s stale. I cain’t believe it. I jest cain’t believe it! No fresh milk in the whole store? Get a new one. Damnit, you’ve taken so long with everything that my ice cream has melted! Get a new one. Are you sure that chicken isn’t on sale? That’s obviously been opened. I want a new one. No. No. No. I said half paper and half plastic. I told you that. Are you stupid?” I kept it up the whole time. No mercy. The line behind me had grown, and Marge was getting extremely frustrated. I think I might have even seen a little tear in her aye. Ahhh. Poor baby! Marge was sweating and she finally announced my grand total: “$426.53, please.”
I carefully opened up my wallet and announced very loudly and with a snide grimace, “Gee, that’s funny, all I have is this quarter you left me at Bennigan’s the other day!” As I dropped the quarter in front of her, I removed my beard and blew her a kiss goodbye. I danced out of the store laughing joyously, loudly, and demonically. I could hear waiters everywhere applauding.
HOW NOW BROWN COW
By Chuck Brewer /Solana Beach
It was May of 1983. I had just sold my house in Orange County, and everything I owned was in the back of a U-Haul. It had been a stressful week, with termite reports and second trust deeds; time was*of the essence. I was dropping some stuff at my cousin’s house in Del Mar. The rest had to be in storage by 5:00 p.m. and the truck back to U-Haul by 6:00 p.m. that night. Then off to a christening at 7:30. Then one day to set up an apartment down at the beach, and off to the airport on Monday morning for a week on the road.
I had my brothers helping me, Kenny and Wally. I had helped both of them move in the past year. When Kenny had moved, I had come down to San Diego and humped tables and beds and appliances. So I knew he would show. Wally had moved to S.D. about a month earlier. He filled his big boxes with heavy stuff. We spent hours repacking them so we could lift them. I had been waiting for these guys for two hours, and I was starting to get angry thinking they weren’t going to show. Time was running out; it had been a tough week. About an hour later they showed up and said that even though they had six or seven people that could have picked up our sister at the airport, they wanted to see her face when she saw the new house.
There wasn’t much I could do. I needed their help or the move was in jeopardy, the truck wouldn’t he back in time for the next guy, the storage place would be closed until Monday, which meant I would miss my flight on Monday morning. I just paced back and forth and sat in the truck. We had a few words when they showed. It would take time but I would get even with these two.
1986 - We were all going to see the play Cats. I had a little party before going to the theater. My date was Felicia, a waitress/actress. I asked her if she could do a French accent for a joke on Kenny. She pretended to be French and got insulted when Kenny made a joke about Peugeots. He is the rico suave of the legal profession here in San Diego, so he wasn’t used to being dissed by any woman that he wasn’t addressing as “Your Honor.” I sat them next to each other at Cats, and he was trying hard to get back into her good graces.
Finally Felicia let him know that she wanted to study law in America and asked Kenny if there was anything she could do to hurry the process. Kenny replied that she could learn to speak without an accent and suggested practicing her English by saying things like “How now brown cow.” She said in a French accent that she would try, and then said in perfect English, “How now brown cow.” Kenny was amazed with her progress and said, “That was really good.” Felicia said, “Yeah, I know. I’m from Pacific Beach, you asshole!” Kenny thought it was hysterical and we had a great time, but I wasn’t through.
1990 - My older brother Wally was tougher. He lives in New York now, so I had to wait for his birthday. The party was at Salvatore’s in downtown San Diego. The reservations were for 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday night for about 16 people. I got there about 7:30 and had a talk with the owner. We laid out a plan. At 8:00 p.m. the main party arrived. Wally was there in a white suit and wearing sunglasses even though the sun had been down for a half an hour. I watched him lead his entourage of friends and neighbors up to the small reception desk. I was hidden behind a curtain and had put on a tux shirt and red bow tie provided by the owner. Along with my black suit, I looked very continental.
Wally approached the desk and said to the owner, “Smith, party of 16.” The owner was great. He studied the reservation list and said, “I don’t seem to have anything under that name. Could it be under something else?” The birthday boy pulled his glasses down a little on his nose and said, “How about ‘Wally’?” The owner said he was sorry but there was nothing.
Wally started to sweat. It was 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday night, and the chances of getting a party of 16 a table somewhere else were slim. He gathered a few of the men in the group. I couldn’t hear what he was saying. He was either planning to weigh his options or take up a collection for a huge bribe. He approached the owner again and asked if he was sure there was nothing available. The owner told him he might have a table available around 9:30. The birthday boy returned to his entourage. Then he came back with his sunglasses off. “Are you sure you haven’t made a mistake?” he asked the owner. Mr. Salvatore said, “Well, let me check with our new maitre d’.” As he walked back to get me, Wally turned around to talk to the men in the group. I walked out from behind the curtain and said, “Yes, is there a problem?" He spun around and when he saw me in the bow tie he knew he had been had.
1993 - One of my clients is a fire captain, and he has a great sense of humor. One of Kenny’s boys had a birthday, so I arranged for Ken and my nephews to get a tour of the firehouse. Kenny picked me up on the appointed day, and off we went. Just before we got to the firehouse, I turned to the older boy and said, “When I introduce you to the fire captain be sure to cough a little, okay?” Ken was driving, but he gave me a glance. The kid was beautiful. I rang the bell and made the introductions, the kid coughed, and the fire captain said to Kenny, “We usually don’t do this, but we make exceptions when there is a special situation.” Kenny looked over at me and I gave him a wink, so he went along with it. The firemen were great. We tried on boots and coats and sat in the cabs of the engines. The firemen opened up one of the doors and started up one of the engines. Just before Kenny and one of the boys got in, the captain said, “We shouldn’t really be taking the engines out, but this is such a special situation, I guess it would be all right just this once.” Kenny just smiled and said how much he appreciated it. He gave me a sheepish look and climbed in.
After the rides we took plenty of photos and shook hands with the crew. We were getting into the car. The captain walked over to Ken and told him he understood how special the situation was, and the fire crew wanted to do something for them. The captain handed Ken an envelope with the firehouse logo on it. Kenny took it, shook hands, and put it in his pocket. We hopped into his $60,000 Porsche and drove away. Kenny makes good money, and the kids are the most active, healthy kids I know. He was looking at the envelope while he drove and said, “He gave me an envelope. Did you tell them that the boys were sick?” I said, “No, I told them all three of you were chronically ill with monochromatic embolism.” (The captain had made it up.) We had a good laugh about that and then he said, “I think those guys gave me some money.” As we drove he struggled with the envelope and took out a piece of paper, a note! He opened it slowly and read the words, “How now brown cow.” He laughed so hard we almost drove off the road. He was thinking about moving recently, he decided against it.
ALAS, ANOTHER TAXI
By James White / University Heights
I'm from England, where these things happened, and it seems to me that for the full flavour of the events to be savoured, in one case at least, and possibly both, some background material that is perhaps specifically British may be needed — to wit, 1) a knowledge of cress (Do you have the stuff over here? I've never come across it), and 2) familiarity with the way private taxis (not the famous black cabs) work over there.
The most elegant example of sexual revenge I ever heard of concerned a friend of a friend — so it’s probably apocryphal. But it’s worth airing if it’s not widely known or if it’s actually genuine.
The friend’s friend split very abruptly with his girl. They lived together in his flat, which he had furnished and carpeted very expensively and of which he was inordinately proud. She got back from work on a Friday night to find a note saying he wanted to end the relationship, that he had gone away for a few days, and that he wanted her to move her belongings out before he returned, leaving her keys on the table. Which she duly did the same night.
When he re-entered the flat, he was greeted by the sight of the prized carpets, cushions, the sofa, and any other absorbent fabric surface covered in a sea of green. Close inspection revealed it to be cress. (Cress is a redundant and tasteless salady garnish, not to be confused with watercress. It is widely used in Britain, but mercifully I have not encountered it over here.)
Cress has the property of germinating quickly and efficiently on any damp surface, and a little time with a plant spray-mister and 20 packets of seeds was all that was needed. The root system in the deep pile carpet was, I understand, particularly intractable, though generally all you can sensibly do is wait for cress to dry and die before beginning the tedious process of removal.
The second tale is more prosaic, but as victim I can vouch for its authenticity.
I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t handle the transition from Yvonne to Angela very tactfully, or handle it all, really. I was caught, quite simply, red-handed, in flagrante delicto.
So I was not surprised when a couple of days later the phone rang about 11:30 p.m. and a familiar voice said, “Going to bed with that bitch again, are you?” Even I could tell that my denial wasn’t going to convince anyone. After I hung up I did feel a bit guilty about the way I’d behaved to Yvonne, but the prospect of new fresh, torrid sex soon smothered that emotion.
It was perhaps 30 minutes later, just as I’d got into bed and Angela was showering, that I heard a car honk outside the house — twice. Then after a short while the doorbell rang. Reluctantly I got up. It was a cab driver. “Wrong address, mate,” I assured him, “wrong address. I didn’t call you.’’ He swore, and I returned to bed and its prospective delights. The second driver arrived — and honked — and rang — about 10 minutes later, but I was still too dense to realize what was happening.
Now, you need to know that in U.K. cities late-night taxis are a very common and inexpensive form of travel. There are scores of private firms in any given locality who employ owner-drivers as part-time cabbies. These drivers usually do taxiing as a second job. They are usually tired and, because many of their passengers are drunks, they are usually short-tempered and aggressive.
They certainly don’t like to get out of their cabs when collecting a passenger and, though it’s illegal to use a horn after 10:00 p.m., will still honk outside the house to attract attention. Once or twice a night neighbors will be indulgent about the noise; if it happens more often, they’re not.
Moreover, if the taxi driver is finally forced, unnecessarily in his view, from his car seat to come to the door to collect you, he’s not best pleased. The less so if it transpires he has been sent on a fool’s errand.
I can only say I admire Yvonne’s tenacity, timing, and tactics. We had 14 visitations that night, including one irate neighbor. Cabs from different firms arrived at approximately 15-minute intervals — with a couple of lulls in the pattern, carefully contrived to make us think that the stream was over, until, of course, it started again.
I guess it was only after the fifth unordered taxi that I really grasped the full picture. I called Yvonne, but naturally she wasn’t in. Lamely, my defensive strategy was to play possum and put a note on the door. However, even a note was not enough to stop a number of further angry bouts of doorbell ringing, which only ceased when I disconnected the bell. Even then we enjoyed a torrent of abuse from a neighbor through the letter box. Finally, about 6:00 a.m. we did get some sleep, but no torrid sex.
Friends ask me why we just didn’t quit the house. Partly, there wasn’t anywhere else nearby to go, but mainly, you just cannot believe that anyone can be so relentless and that the taxi that has just left is not the last.
THE IRS LENDS A HAND
By “Purple Passion" / Mira Mesa
"Don't get mad, get even” amused me when I first heard it attributed to Robert Kennedy. It was one of those clever rejoinders that pop into your mind from time to time. It lunged into mine with Mach-4 speed when I got “ripped off.” In 1988 we put our three-year-old car (that we were still making payments on) in the shop to have the engine repaired. We were required to pay the $1500 for the repairs in advance. Unaware that this was totally illegal, we paid it. Our car was never repaired but was totally stripped. We found it with the engine, transmission, fuel injector, master cylinder, exhaust manifold, battery, air conditioner, radiator, seats, carpets, locks, three windows, and the license plates missing. There was one tire, a frame, and the gas tank there. The car frame was filled with shop trash and old parts like hub caps and oil cans. We got mad. Then we got even.
After going through all of the bureaucratic bullshit (oh, yes, I said bullshit), we soon discovered that the system set up to protect the consumer was bought and paid for by the very crooks that system is supposed to police and regulate. We complained to various state agencies such as the Department of Insurance, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Bureau of Automotive Repair, insurance companies, the city attorney, the district attorney (he was too busy protecting us from Dale Akiki to deal with this crook), and the court system. We sued, we won, and he refused to pay the judgment.
Who is “he”? Well, let’s just call him M.F. to protect the innocent. Mr. M.F. was located in two shops in the downtown area. He even advertised heavily in one of the most widely read newspapers in the county. The ads were a testament to his exceptional honesty, and he even bragged of having nearly divine connections. However, when we approached him with the police to settle our matter of a stripped car, no repairs, and his failure to make us whole, his response was, “Take me to court, I can outlast you.”
Well, arrogance has never been my favorite character trait. (Oh, my God, there I go again, erroneously crediting Mr. M.F. with any semblance of character. I apologize and promise to try to never make that mistake again.) At the point of this challenge, I decided to go for it and give Mr. M.F. a run for his money. After we won in court, we proceeded to try to collect our judgment. The judgment was for $9000 and was awarded on the grounds of fraud.
Faced with the fact that Mr. M.F. had no intention of ever paying us a penny, we tried all of the usual legal remedies to no avail. As we looked for ways to collect our money, we uncovered the true nature of Mr. M.F. He had placed the business in another name, his car was registered in another name, and his business bank account was in another name. We wondered if he was in fact a multiple personality. I talked with friends (and a few strangers) in search of ideas. Eventually we met a woman named Carol (her real name), who suggested as a last resort that we might consider picketing. Of course, I immediately rejected that suggestion. The idea of walking back and forth in the dirt downtown with the derelicts was completely out of the question. I told my friend Stephen of this ridiculous plan, expecting him to agree with me. To my surprise, Stephen thought this was a great idea. I was shocked. I slept on it.
The next morning, delicious pictures of customers turning away in droves catapulted through my brain in a fury. The pleasure was intoxicating. I realized that I had the opportunity to experience the actual taste of revenge. I told my husband of this near-religious, near-orgasmic experience. He was not only enthusiastic, he immediately set about the process of designing the picket sign and flyers we would distribute. We went that day to the Price Club and ordered the sign and placed the order for the flyers to be printed. The sign would take a week. Just enough time to get our game plan into working order.
During that week, I did some more research about the information I would include in the flyer, checked with the police to see if I needed any permits or if there were any laws I should be careful to obey, bought a new pair of Reeboks, and made my first purchase of sunscreen to use in the blazing downtown sun. My husband is less emotional than I and was concerned that the information in the flyer was as accurate and up-to-date as we could get it. Back to the courthouse to do some legal research.
As Gomer Pyle would say, “Well, goll-ee.” It seems that Mr. M.F. had been sued at least 30 times (that I could find in one visit). I was later to find a total of 44 lawsuits that M.F. was involved in. I then understood what he meant when he said he could outlast me in court. I also understood the reference he made in his advertising about his honesty, claiming as evidence of this honesty his percentage of attorneys as customers. I revised the flyer to include the information about the lawsuits and had it reprinted.
The Price Club had such a lovely selection of vivid neon colors to choose from for our flyers. We decided to color coordinate them to our clothing and to use a different color flyer each day. We chose bright neon-yellow for the first day. It was almost the color of the fire engines you sometimes see. We decided to start out fresh on Monday morning, bright and early. My husband would take off from work so that I would not be there alone the first day. We wanted to feel out the situation to make the most of the traffic and our time. We went downtown at various times to see when the most cars went by. We discovered that in the morning lots of cars passed heading into downtown, and in the late afternoon a lot of cars passed heading out of downtown. We decided to start at 7:00 a.m., picket until about 10:30, then return at 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. and picket until 6:00 p.m.
In the meantime, two things happened. First, Mr. M.F.’s lawyer offered me a deal. If I would stipulate to a statement that, quite frankly, did not reflect my recollection of the events, sign an agreement reflecting that stipulation, and get it approved by the judge who heard our case in court, Mr. M.F.’s insurance company would pay me my judgment. As tempting as the prospect of actually receiving my money was, the prospect of being accused of insurance fraud dissuaded me immediately. The offer, however, germinated an idea. I called the district attorney’s office for some free legal advice. They advised me to try to get the attorney to reduce the stipulation to writing. I called the attorney and asked him to send me the paperwork, careful to never say that I would agree, but the paperwork never materialized.
The second thing that happened the week before we were to picket was that I found in a court file of a case filed against Mr. M.F., a copy of his tax return. As I read the return, my mode of revenge became crystal clear. M.F. had claimed as deductions on his tax return all of the expenses of the business. If you have been keeping up, you know that the business was in someone else’s name. He also claimed all of the taxes and mortgage interest for the house that was registered in someone else’s name. I decided right then, if Mr. M.F. does not offer to pay my money the very first day I picket, I will turn him in to the IRS. I also began contacting other people who had been victimized by this M.F.
Most of their stories were almost identical to mine. I heard over and over about payment made in advance, stripped cars, faulty or no repair work, missing parts, etc. One man told of how he took his pickup truck in for a $35 repair and didn’t get it back until three months later with the engine in the bed of the truck in pieces with $ 1200 worth of parts missing. I was in court with him when he won his case. During the trial, M.F. tried to convince the judge that he merely worked for the business and, since he was not the owner, should not be held responsible. This judge was wise enough not to fall for it.
This victim also told the same story I heard repeated from every other victim to whom I spoke. We all complained to the Bureau of Automotive Repair, and we all got the same form letter back. (We compared them.) When I finally talked to the chief of the Bureau of Automotive Repair and the director of the Department of Consumer Affairs to ask why a private citizen had to do their job and put this place out of business, I found they had “lost” five of the most serious complaints against M.F. Even worse, they claimed that some nebulous number of complaints had to be filed to set up a pattern in order to establish the qualifications for them to set up a “sting” operation to “catch” him doing something wrong. One successful civil suit for fraud was not enough. (The other 43 cases were not enough either.)
I was initially told that the bureau’s only function was to try to negotiate. If the shop refuses to negotiate, all they could do is recommend the victim file a suit (at their own expense) in civil court. This is an absolute lie. They are empowered by their charter to sanction, fine, punish, even prosecute wayward shops. They claim to be restricted prohibitively by the district attorney’s office by having to comply with a cumbersome (impossible) burden of proof.
The day we planned for arrived. We pulled in at 6:30 a.m. with our flyers. We found a space to park about two blocks away, grabbed our picket sign, walked to the comer, and began our venture into the fascinating world of civil protest. We had not thought too much about what to expect. I was very nervous. My husband took the sign and stepped off. He was unflappable. I joined him, we walked for about an hour, and then the moment we had waited for arrived. M.F. drove up.
He tried to mask his utter shock by laughing, almost hysterically. This shook my confidence. I had never given serious consideration to any outcome other than complete surrender and compliance from M.F. I realized at that moment that it was possible he would continue to hold firm and persist in refusing payment. That look on his face told me to either commit to go all the way or I might as well turn around and go home right then and there. As I pondered the sanity of our commitment, my husband pointed out that the drivers of the cars had started to react. People were beginning to smile, give an occasional thumbs-up, wave here and there, and, of all things, they started honking their horns every now and then as they drove by. This was my sign. The commitment was etched in stone. I would be there until this M.F. paid or closed his doors. And at this point, I really didn’t care which.
We stayed the entire first day. M.F. had six customers. All of them drove right past us, except one car that entered from the opposite direction. My hopes that no one would go into the business were dashed. However, I did notice that six customers seemed to be a lot less than we had observed previously. We determined to count the cars on Tuesday. M.F. never said anything to us. Passersby were very curious about us. We often had five or six people gather at once to inquire why we were there. We even had people stop and say that M.F. had ripped them off, too.
At the end of the first day, one of M.F.’s customers came over to talk to us as he returned to pick up his car. He left to retrieve his car. A few minutes later, we noticed he became agitated and was engaged in a rather heated conversation with M.F. When he left, he stopped and handed us his card, saying that if we decided to file a class action, he would like to become a part of the class. Apparently, his car was damaged while in M.F.’s care.
The next morning, I went alone to picket. M.F. had one customer. A car was already there when I arrived at 7:00 a.m. More passersby stopped. More drivers waved. Lots of drivers honked their horns. By 9:00 nearly every third car honked its horn. M.F. called the police.
Three police cars pulled up. One double-parked next to the first car to arrive, blocking the flow of traffic. Still holding my sign so that passing cars could read it, I was told by the police that M.F. called because I was illegally picketing. I politely told the police officer that as he could observe, I was not trespassing, nor was I molesting M.F.’s customers, or disturbing the peace. I was only exercising my First Amendment right to free speech. The police officer smiled, turned around,-and went into M.F.’s shop. He returned a few minutes later, told me that he had given M.F. a brief rundown on the Constitution, and told me to have fun. He also told me to be careful because M.F. was not a happy camper. He assured me that the police patrolled the area frequently because of the crack sales across the street and they would be in the vicinity. Oh, joy supreme, I have M.F. in there pissed to the-highest pisstivity and a bunch of people sprung on crack right across the street. Maybe this was not the best idea I ever came up with. Maybe I should go home and forget the whole thing. Then I realized that M.F. would never have called the police if the picketing was having no effect on his business.
Now, if you have been paying attention, you will recall I said I would call the Internal Revenue Service if Mr. M.F. did not pay me my money on the very first day I was out there. Well, true to my word, I did. Upon completion of my morning picket on Tuesday, I left to call the IRS. I reported that he claimed business deductions for a business registered to another, that he claimed the mortgage
deductions, taxes, etc. on the house that was deeded to someone else. I provided other identifying information to substantiate my claim. I also reported the relatives who received these “gifts” without paying the tax obligations and failure to file. My interesting aside to anyone who wants to “assist” karma, the IRS pays rewards to citizens who provide information that leads to the collection of taxes from people or companies who are trying to rip off the government. The payments can be quite lucrative. In my case, in excess of ten times the amount of the judgment.
Wednesday, M.F. had zero customers.
Thursday, M.F. had zero customers.
Friday, M.F. had zero customers.
Saturday from 8:00 to 2:00, M.F. had three customers.
Monday, no customers. Tuesday, three customers. Wednesday, no customers.
Thursday, M.F. came out to talk to me. He asked me to stop picketing and call his insurance company, as they were just dying to give me the money he owed me. As soon as they talked to me, he would issue me a check. I told him that I couldn’t leave and call right then since I was busy picketing. He offered to let me use his telephone. I didn’t feel this was such a good idea since I was alone and no one could see his phone from the street, leaving me in his shop, at his mercy, and he was pissed.... No, I don’t think so.
He then offered me 20 cents to use the pay phone on the corner. I had to turn this generous offer down also, since there was a construction crew in the middle of the next block running a jack hammer and I wouldn’t be able to hear. I did, however, assure him that when I wasn’t busy picketing, and if I got home early enough in the evening (before they closed), I would call them. I also suggested that if they were so anxious to pay me, that maybe they should just drop off a check. They shouldn’t have too much problem finding me. I was the one in front of his business carrying the picket sign. I also suggested that perhaps it would be a plan for him to just pay me, then get his insurance company to reimburse him, since they were so anxious to issue me a check. He didn’t find either of those suggestions acceptable.
The picketing routine was set. M.F. varied between zero and four customers per day. Conservatively, he had two days a week with no customers. Each day, the police buzzed by several times an hour. They sometimes would stop and chat. They even told us they had discussed our picket in lineup. Every day at least one person stopped and told us another story about M.F. The stories ranged from ex-roommates telling of how he arranged his assets so that no one could collect on judgments against him, to stories of items being stolen out of cars left for repair, to tales of credit card rip-offs. We even observed M.F. spitting at a customer who was not satisfied.
We heard how he bought cars and sold cars on installment contracts and refused to give the pink slip when one car was paid off. We even found out that he buys cars, leaves them registered in the name of the person who sold it for up to a year, and resells the cars. If he re-registered the cars, the DMV would have a record of how many cars he sold in a year. (Not that the DMV cares or does anything. We proved to them that he sold about 50 cars in 1993. He has no car dealer’s license, and without one there is a four-car limit. He has sold approximately 40 cars a year since 1989 with no license, and the DMV knows and does nothing.)
We started to see the effect of our picketing. Customers started asking us questions. Better yet, they asked him questions. He told flimsy lies that ranged from 1) his insurance was going to pay, to 2) “They do not have a proper judgment,” to 3) we abandoned our car, to 4) we were too impatient to wait for his insurance company to pay.
The numbers started to dwindle. The weekly figures dropped to about four customers. Despite a letter he wrote to me stating that our picketing was not affecting his business because we were not stopping his customers from coming in. Besides, if we didn’t stop picketing, he would not cooperate with his insurance company, delaying their efforts to pay our judgment. We could see we were having an effect on him. It was working. We were driving him out of business.
The media came. We were written about. We were on television. The word was out. The drivers passing by were now familiar faces. Some would stop and tell us they wished they had the time and guts to do what we were doing. They encouraged us to keep on doing the right thing and fight for our rights. They commended us for letting others know about M.F. and for going about it in a peaceful way instead of acting out in kind. They voiced that they were amazed that M.F. had allowed us to stay so long in front of his business, giving him this unfavorable publicity, exposing his negative image to all who passed.
When the television reporter asked how long we would picket, we told him “until he either pays or goes out of business, whichever comes first.” We were firmly set in our resolve to do just that. We could see our goal in sight. We may not have been the most polished TV personalities, but he came across as oily, sleazy, and dishonest. He told the TV reporter the old chestnut about the insurance company. The reporter spoke to M.F.’s insurance company. They told him that they had informed M.F., by certified letter, they had no intention of paying.
The day after we were on television, the cars passing began honking like crazy. I was waving as if I had just won the Miss America pageant. I had to recruit my daughter-in-law to come picket and to be my designated waver. The more those cars honked, the madder M.F. got. But he made a commitment, too. He had said he would outlast me. I had not lost sight of the goal, but I was realistic enough to understand that immovable object and irresistible force thing.
His friends started to come in on a regular basis to get the air in their tires rotated. No new customers came. People would stop in the driveway and say they saw us on TV and they supported us. They refused to go in. One day we turned away six potential customers.
He reduced the hours of his mechanics. When we first started picketing, he had three mechanics who worked from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday and from 8:00 to 2:00 on Saturdays. One mechanic cut back to two hours a day, one stopped coming in at all, and one worked full-time. There was the proof that the picket was working.
Still, people continued filing suits and complaints against M.F. Since no customers were coming in, he accelerated his car sales. He was buying cars through his ad and selling them like wildfire. The business closed for two weeks for Christmas until January 6. Bright and early on the 6th, we were back on the corner with the sign. M.F. was absolutely livid. I guess he thought we would go away. Business was nonexistent. Something was going on and we could not figure it out.
Back to the court. Voila! M.F.’s business had been sued by a new person. The day he was to appear in court, he never showed. When the default was to be issued, he shows up, says he was not aware that he was being sued (strange, because we saw him get served), asked for a continuance to get a lawyer, and got a new court date in two weeks. When the new court date rolled around, once again M.F. did not show! The day before, however, he was at the County Recorder’s office, moving his house from one relative’s name to another.
I knew that it wouldn’t be too long before the business closed, yet I had not seen a lot of results for all of my labors. Here was a quick fix for gratification. I found the name of the attorney who had sued M.F.’s business and called him. He had little information from his investigation and was thrilled that I called. I told him all the documentation I had uncovered, telling him how and when M.F. had moved his assets, including the transfer of the house the day before the last hearing, and where to locate those documents. Once he researched my facts, this information enabled the attorney to place a lien on and cause the sale of the “mini-mansion” that M.F. lived in.... Revenge accomplished.
I never got my money from M.F. After the first day of picketing, I knew I wouldn’t. But why should he continue to rip off the public if he was not going to pay me? Besides, there is more than one way to skin a cat. It took four months of picketing, but on January 26, he closed his doors for good. The TV reporter came out to do a followup story. M.F. conceded that we were one of the factors that caused him to decide to dose down his business. We know we were the dominant motive.
The business is closed, the house is lost, but the best is yet to come. The IRS placed a tax lien on M.F. in the sum of $250,000. They also levied against his relatives for over $50,000 each. There are more levies to come. Revenge is sweet. Good things come to those who wait. What goes around, comes around. And payback is a bitch. All true. This M.F. would rather run through hell in gasoline-soaked drawers than to ever mess with me again. Don’t get mad, get even.