Chapter 48: “License Lost”
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On a chilly day in September, I began two things: my very first semester of college and my scheduled license suspension.
The ride to the Ronald McDonald trip was easy, Gary did all the driving and I just acted like a kid on a road trip. “Are we there yet?” So I never had to worry about driving to Bar Harbor, but to school and work every day? Yes, that was a serious concern.
Luckily, my two roommates Shawn and Tony both attended the same college and so, I would get rides with them. Unfortunately, this meant having to go with them much earlier than needed, like leaving at 5:30 AM with Shawn as he went to Doc’s for the morning shift and having to stay in town all day until my shift at MBNA began at 5 pm. I used the extra time to take random photos and videos of the town I called home and to write the occasional homework assignment.
Of course, before I knew it, the sentence was over and I was legally allowed to drive once again. It was like riding a bike; one shall never forget the mechanics of the process.
Except for one day in early October, while driving into town – not far from our home – a moment of panic fell over me. Behind the wheel, I had actually forgotten how to drive. I wish I were kidding, but the panic was real and I grasped the steering wheel as though it were the first time. I mimicked that of a kid, rotating the wheel back and forth without any concern for maintaining a straight line. I swerved left and right on a hilly road but luckily, no one else was around me – in my car or another – to witness this lapse of cognitive function.
What the hell was that? I still to this day have no clue as to what caused such an event. I feared that this misfire may resurface down the road. The doctors did say my mind could have been affected, but when I told them of this, later on, they had no idea what could have caused it.
A few weeks went by and we were gearing up for the next Birthday party of the housemates: Shawn’s. We were aiming for a more low-key affair this time around and decided on just hanging out with a few people. And on the top of that list were Shawn’s brothers who lived in Canada.
Back then; you didn’t need a passport (or similar documentation) to cross from one country into the next like you would now. Shawn and I went to pick them up. They had jobs but no vehicles so naturally, this meant picking up the two siblings with my car in the nearby town.
I used to have this massive boat of a car– a Cadillac Brougham, but I had to switch cars with my Dad and get a Dodge Dynasty because it was better on fuel.
We crossed into the Great White North and the two brothers hopped in the car. At the time, Shawn and I were nineteen, and his brothers were twenty-three and twenty-five. We discussed our plans for the evening and that undoubtedly involved lots of alcohol. I still didn’t drink, as I feared that alcoholism could be an inherited trait.
So they decided to cash their work checks and buy some booze. The older brother had a bank account and cashed his check at the bank, while the younger brother cashed his at the liquor store in Canada. Two birds, one stone.
Now, we had figured that the border patrol upon reentry would make us pay a duty or something, so we were sure to declare their purchase. As we approached the border, I had this uneasy feeling in my gut. Shawn and I rode in the front and his brothers sat in the back. The border patrol officer stepped out of his booth.
“Can I see your I.D.’s please?”
We happily handed them over.
The officer continued. “What was the purpose of your visit to Canada?”
“We went to pick up my friend’s brothers,” I replied, pointing to the guys in the back.
The officer carefully looked over the I.D.’s and matched our faces with the photos.
“Do you have anything to declare?”
The youngest brother, who sat on the driver’s side facing the officer, held his purchase up and announced it.
“I bought some liquor for myself tonight, but that’s everything.”
The officer peered into the paper shopping bag and back at me, then my license.
“Pull over ahead and come inside.” the officer commanded.
“O-okay,” I said. Part of me wanted to tear off onto Main Street and just see how far I could go before they took me out like in Grand Theft Auto, but the fearful part of me kept me grounded and the confused part of me wondered what the fuck was going on. ‘Some random check,’ I thought.
We all got out of the car and they directed us to sit down in the waiting room. What is GOING ON?
The border patrol officers approached us. “The Fort Kent police department will be here shortly.”
“Wait, what did we do wrong?” I begged.
“They will explain that when they get here.”
It didn’t take long for the police to arrive… they were literally across the street. An officer in pale blue entered the building and approached us.
“Hello, boys. Do you know why you’re here today?”
“Honestly, I have no clue, officer,” I said.
“You broke the law. You’re being charged with transportation of alcohol by a minor.”
“Wait, how does that work?”
“Anyone under the age of twenty-one cannot transport liquor without the request of their guardian.”
My fear quickly shifted into anger. “Hold on, these two guys are the ones that purchased the liquor and it’s for them. And they’re both over the age of twenty-one, so why does that fall on me?”
“You were driving.”
“So? It’s not like they were open. Plus, they don’t have their license, so of course I’m going to drive– I have a license.”
“If you’re under twenty-one, then you cannot drive alcohol in a vehicle. Period.” The officer was getting mad, but I could give two shits.
“We followed the law: I’m driving because I am licensed to do so and declared the alcohol to avoid getting into trouble. Are you telling me that I would have been better off NOT declaring this?”
“Well no, that would have been a criminal offense.”
“But this law is stupid! How does that make any sense?”
“You know what doesn’t make sense to me? Your plates are registered to a Cadillac Brougham and there isn’t any insurance in the car.”
“What do you mean? I had that Cadillac before and my Dad took care of all that.”
“I’m also charging you with illegal attachment of plates and driving without insurance.”
“You can’t be serious?!”
“This is VERY serious.”
The officer then proceeded to write me the three tickets in a row: transportation of alcohol by a minor, illegal attachment of plates, and driving without insurance. Each ticket had a summons date in court and an attached fine.
The officer happily continued: “You’ll likely pay a substantial fine and will lose your license for a period of thirty days.”
I glared at the other three guys and threw my hands up in the air. “Fucking great.”
The younger brother of Shawn looked up at us then to the cop. “Can we at least still keep our liquor?”
The officer walked off without a reply.
“Are you serious?! Who cares about booze; I’m fucked!”
“Hey, I paid twenty dollars. Canadian.”
I shook my head in disbelief and threw my head in my hands.
“And I JUST got my license back too…”
This will be my on-going story of my personal battle with Cancer. I’ve been wanting to write this for years, and my hope is that it helps others who are currently experiencing their own battles (whether it be for themselves or a loved one) or to help with early detection.
The way I’m doing it is terrifying for a writer. I’m writing a first-draft outline for an eventual book, chapter by chapter in weekly form. A LOT will change when it’s published.
Stay tuned as I will be posting a new chapter every Monday until the story is complete.
And remember if you experience any Anemic symptoms– get checked for Leukemia as well.