blog from the ceo & superbarista of phoenix coffee, home of the best baristas in cleveland, ohio

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

They won't take me alive

Let me tell you about how it feels to hear the gruff words of the city bailiff "There is a warrant out for your arrest" on your voice mail, since probably, hopefully, most of you will never have that experience. I certainly never thought I would have that experience. But last Thursday, at about 5 o'clock in the afternoon, I stood corrected. As I held the phone to my ear, every nerve synapse in my body seemed to fire at once. The physical impulses included the urge to tighten every muscle in my legs, arms and abdomen and begin to flail about like a small child laying on the floor having a temper tantrum. And throwing the phone across the room, in order to distance myself from the utter insanity of the news it had just delivered, ahh, that seemed soothing. Next flash: me, with my hair in a ponytail and my arms handcuffed behind my back, surrounded by bright lights, cameras and TV anchors firing questions at me all at once.

It took all my maturity to stifle these impulses and calmly dial the number the bailiff left for the Clerk of Courts. The next morning, it took all the maturity I could muster, as I stood at the counter in the Clerk's Office, handing the clerk my credit card in order to post bond so they won't arrest me, to not turn into a raving lunatic and have my aforementioned temper tantrum right there on the floor of the clerk's office, yelling so loudly that everyone behind the double pane of bureaucratic glass could hear me.

It was a small comfort that as I explained to the clerk the nature of my case, a gentleman in the adjacent line let out an audible chuckle. "You mean there's a warrant out for your arrest because of a sign you put in front of your store?" Yes, that's it, I explained, except that the sign was taken down more than two weeks ago. The city indirectly benefits from the sign's purpose "NOW OPEN EVENINGS" because when we are open evenings, we have more labor hours and pay more payroll taxes. He shook his head at the injustice. I reveled in his agreement.

Apparently, the problem arose not only with my criminally hung banner, but because I failed to show up for my second court date. I didn't think I had to show up. As long as I complied with the city's request, and took my sign down, I thought that was enough. As I sat in housing court on July 7th and watched other cases being dismissed, I thought I had observed that the defendents were not present as their cases were dismissed. This recollection was obviously the result of my over-active imagination and my desire to construct the world the way I think it ought to be, rather than the way it actually is, because it was not accurate. When I didn't show up for my court date on July 21st, they rescheduled another court date for August 4th. The notice of the new court date and the court date itself occured while I was in the Adirondack Mountains on vacation. So the court assumed I was ignoring them and sent out a warrant for my arrest.

Like it or not, the warrant got my attention. Not only did I have to post bond, but I had to drive down to Parma to get my driver's license reinstated. I keep thinking about the Purity Test that I took my freshman year at college. The tradition is that you take the Purity Test your freshman year and then you take it again when you're a senior and you see how many points you lose as a result of your college experience. You lose Purity Points when you engage in sexual activity, drink a lot and have run-ins with the law. Whatever Purity Points I didn't lose when I was in college, I think I just lost.

The question is: is my loss of Purity justified by this worthy struggle to promote the interests of small business owners and make a Case out of my "NOW OPEN EVENINGS" banner? Only if I continue the battle and write a letter to council about getting this law changed. Remind me again, how did David beat Goliath?


Blogger George Nemeth said...

He used a slingshot and struck him in the forehead with a rock.

; )

8:31 AM, August 17, 2005  
Blogger Darby M. Dixon III said...

Good lord. Sounds like something out of Kafka!

10:04 AM, August 17, 2005  
Anonymous Park Goist said...

The absurdity of you experience with Cleveland Hts city officials doesn't point so much to a police state as to a ridiculous bureaucracy characterized
by a tyranny of nit-picking little nerds.
I'm so glad you wrote about your adventures as a criminal. I'ts very well written and entertaining.
Know that the Phoenix Phellows are behind by a vote of about 7 to 6!

11:13 AM, August 19, 2005  
Anonymous Park Goist said...

That last sentence shoud read: Know that the Phoenix Phellows are behind you by a vote of 7 to 6!

11:18 AM, August 19, 2005  
Anonymous John Eckendorf said...

I am really disappointed that you didn't get arrested and thrown in the clink!!! Cuba really is kinda nice this time of year. I was so looking forward to visiting you down there. Oh well!!! By the way, now that you have come up on not only the local radar, but the federal one as well, I wouldn't try to fly anywhere soon - unless you like full body searches!

1:20 PM, August 19, 2005  

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