Tag Archives: vandalism

Life coming full circle

High school wasn’t my favorite experience, but at least it was a strong motivator to move on to better things. This is a story that I’m not sure has a point, just got me thinking, so I’m going to play a wandering thoughts chip tonight, relieving myself of the duty to say something meaningful. If that makes it boring, you can skip it, and even if I knew, I wouldn’t mind.

When you go to school in a town of less than a thousand, with a high school of 50-65 depending on the year (my class graduated only eleven), everything involving the school is big news. Everyone knows everyone–not just in the school, but in the whole town. If you’re from it, you’re related to a bunch of people, and if you are not, you’re always something of an outsider.

Sometime during my junior high years, probably eighth grade, a couple of high school kids broke into the school, vandalized the woodshop and stole a bunch of stuff. I don’t think it was ever proven, and in any case the law didn’t visit town short of a homicide attempt, so I doubt they ever paid a legal consequence. They did, however pay short- and long-term social consequences. Vandalizing and ripping off the school, in a town where one could just about quantify one’s personal share in the cost of a stolen router or broken window, was serious stuff. I think they were both sophomores, about two years ahead of me. My guess is that their parents ended up having to pay for at least some of the damage, because they must have confessed under some circumstances.

The older one, whom let’s call Donny, reportedly faced vigilante justice in the form of being forced to swallow a whole can of Copenhagen, which (also reportedly) didn’t stay down long. The younger, whom we might call Mack, I’m not sure faced any direct consequences. Before it was over, though, I think they would both rather have swallowed several cans of chew than what transpired.

The town was in a valley, at least half an hour from any shopping of even modest note. The 35 mph road down the valley had potential for danger if one were reckless or inattentive, with sharp curves and blind areas. Locals knew these and would pass without much hesitation, but if one got incautious, well, we’d lose one or two a year that way. There was one turn in particular where drivers were prone to overcorrect to the left. Within one year, we got word that Donny had done this. He’d been driving back from one of the shopping towns, probably going too fast, overcorrected, rolled, flipped and crashed top first on a sort of berm below the road. If he wasn’t dead when he hit, he probably never had a chance to extricate himself before the gas tank or line ruptured.

For a couple of years, every time I passed that spot, I could look down to that berm and see the burn mark where he had incinerated. He wasn’t much mourned, with memories of the vandalism still fresh in the civic mind.

Not many months later, we learned that Mack was involved in an accident, one rather more tragic. In our town, nobody bought Christmas trees. One went up in the hills and got one’s own. Mack and his father were driving back from a Christmas tree expedition, and I never learned the details, but since it happened on a company road that wasn’t normally cleared, I’m guessing that they hit a patch of ice at night. Their SUV somehow wrecked. Mack’s father did not survive. Mack did, paralyzed from the waist down.

For the first time, our school had to adapt itself to a disability. That meant wheelchair ramps at all the pertinent locations, but I don’t think anyone hassled Mack after that. The consensus was that he’d paid the dues, however involuntarily. I’m not sure if he graduated or not, or what he did with his life. I barely even thought about him for nearly forty years.

I do know that he died nine days ago, aged 53. No idea how he died. There is no obituary, just the death notice in the area paper from where we attended school, saying that a private celebration of his life will be held at some point.

I checked the mortuary posting tonight. Not a single condolence has been posted there. Right now, I’m thinking that said private celebration of life will not need a very big facility.

Checked his home area newspaper, which is in a different state than where we went to school. Not even a death notice, much less an obituary.

I don’t feel anything for him–it’s not like we were ever friends or even enemies–but damn. That’s cold. This is how it goes down when everyone’s relieved that someone finally moved on from life. Maybe that was the case. I can see where paralysis for life could embitter one, and make one less than pleasant to be around. I don’t know, but usually when someone gives a damn, there’s something.

This is where I’m supposed to say something profound that ties it all together, give the moral of the story, at least offer some deft closing, but that’s not coming. The only thing that keeps coming back to my mind is: now that’s a hell of a way for two kids to damage or destroy their futures before they were even old enough to skip registering for the draft. When I was in school two years behind them, they seemed so old, virtually adults. I look back now, and they seem so young, so clueless, just dumb kids in a crappy town getting into trouble.

Confessions of a closet wannabe vandal

Like the song says, everyone has a little secret s/he keeps. Mine is that I am a closet wannabe vandal. I can admit this because I know I’ll never actually do any of it.

I want to sneak around town at night editing marquees so that they read something sophomorically hilarious in the morning, with one of those sucker poles and a box of letters. I wouldn’t steal their letters, of course. I’m a closet wannabe vandal; no thief in me.

I want to print up my own bumper stickers or license plate frames, then affix them to deserving vehicles:

  • JACKASS TAILGATER–DEAL WITH IT
  • YEAH, IT’S A HEMMIE, AND I HAVE NO PREPARATION H
  • THIS TRUCK COMPENSATES FOR MY MINIATURE PENIS
  • I USE MUDFLAPS WITH BARBIES TO REMIND ME WHAT REJECTS ME
  • POLITICAL INCONTINENT ON BOARD–DO NOT APPROACH
  • MY CHILD IS INMATE-OF-THE-MONTH IN BENTON COUNTY JUVIE
  • I’M NOT RACIST; I JUST DON’T LIKE ANYONE WHO’S DIFFERENT FROM ME
  • MOUTH-BREATHER (with pic of clamped nose)
  • LOVE IT OR LEASE IT
  • NOTHING IN THIS TRUCK IS WORTH YOUR LIFE–OR, IN FACT, ANY MONEY
  • SHIT HAPPENS. THAT’S THE LIMIT OF MY PHILOSOPHICAL OUTLOOK.
  • LOOK AT THE BRIGHT SIDE: DRIVING WHILE TALKING ON MY CELL PHONE MIGHT KILL ONLY ME
  • GOD IS MY CO-PILOT. I JUST IGNORE ALL HIS INSTRUCTIONS.
  • GET OUT, STAND UP, SPEAK OUT AND LET GO
  • VISUALIZE DIPPY ENVIRONMENTAL HOMONYMS
  • I USED TO HAVE TRUCK NUTS, BUT I GOT IT FIXED
  • IN CASE OF RUPTURE THIS DRIVER WILL NEED A TRUSS
  • NRA: BECAUSE WAVING YOUR GUNS AROUND LIKE A FOOL IS THE BEST WAY TO REASSURE PEOPLE YOU SHOULD HAVE THEM.
  • OCCUPY SPACE. YOU’RE DOING IT ANYWAY.
  • SHARE THE ROAD–WITH PEOPLE WHO SCOFF AT ITS RULES
  • WHAT COLOR RIBBON IS FOR A CURE FOR THE RIBBON PLAGUE?
  • LIVE SIMPLY–SO CEOs CAN HAVE THE GOOD STUFF
  • YES, WE SCAN (Obama logo)
  • IF YOU HAD TIME TO GRADE HOMEWORK, THANK MY MOTHER FOR SENDING ME TO SCHOOL LITERATE.
  • YES, I’M A TRUCKER. I LEAVE GALLON JUGS OF PEE AND RETREAD SHREDS ALL OVER. BE GRATEFUL TO ME FOR DOING A JOB I GET PAID TO DO.

I wouldn’t be much into the spray paint concept. Although it might be fun to spraypaint rainbows over gang tags. Or emblems like I used to see in Seattle for a punk/grunge band called the Limp Richerds: a male symbol with the arrow hanging down. The slogan was ‘GET LIMP’.

It’d also be fun to make some up for various corporate-logo cars. This particular idea goes all the way back to Dudley Moore in Crazy People. I’ve thought about this every since my freshman year in college when I was on crutches and an AT&T car almost ran me down. (I got the satisfaction of raking the crutch’s wingnut across his fender, but that wasn’t enough to make up for it.)

  • AT&T: ARROGANT TWITS & TORMENTORS
  • Wal-Mart: POVERTY BREEDING POVERTY
  • Charter Cable: YOU’LL HATE US ALL DAY LONG
  • Bank of America: THANKS FOR OVERLOOKING HOW WE HELPED CRASH THE ECONOMY.
  • Frontier: LIVING UP TO OUR NAME WITH TIN-CAN-AND-STRING DSL
  • American Express: PAY OUR FEE TO LOOK COOL
  • ExxonMobil: REMEMBER THE EXXON VALDEZ
  • IBM: WE OWNED AND LOST THE PERSONAL COMPUTER
  • McDonalds: THE FOOD THAT NEARLY KILLED A GUY WHO ATE IT ALL MONTH
  • Pfizer: DON’T WORRY, JUST TAKE THE DRUG
  • American Airlines: DARE YOU TO CHECK YOUR BAGS!
  • Kraft: WE GAVE YOU POLYMER CHEESE, YOU INGRATES
  • Electronic Arts: YOU SAY THERE IS NO GAME WE CAN’T DESTROY? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, BITCHES
  • Nike: TRY TO FORGET THE SLAVE LABOR. JUST DO IT.
  • Diebold: VOTE YOUR CONSCIENCE. WE CAN FIX IT LATER.
  • TicketMaster: TICKETBASTARD
  • Comcast: CRAPCASTIC!
  • Capital One: CAPITAL PUNISHMENT FOR YOUR FINANCES
  • Geek Squad: JUST HIRE RANDOM COLLEGE KIDS. THAT’S ALL WE DID.
  • Sears: LESS RELEVANCE. LESS REASON TO GO.
  • Apple: SUPERIOR TO YOU.
  • Chase: BANK IN PAIN.
  • UPS: UNIVERSALLY PLODDING SHIPMENTS
  • Equifax: WHEN WE SCREW UP, IT’S YOUR PROBLEM.
  • Anheuser-Bush: WITH LIBERTY AND CRAPPY BEER FOR ALL
  • Sprint: ENTERING ROAMING AREA
  • Unilever: YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT ALL WE DO, AND IT’S BETTER THAT WAY
  • Monsanto: IGOR, SHOW THEM OUR NEW SEEDS

If only.