Part I Introduction
Do you know how to drive a stick shift? If so, do you remember how you learned to drive a stick shift? Maybe your Dad dragged you out into some forgotten parking lot and carefully demonstrated the intricacies of a clutch? Maybe it was a grumpy old driving instructor in your driver’s education class? Not me. Me? I learned to drive a stick shift the day I invaded Canada. It’s a bit of a long story but, since this is “driving towards December” and NaBloPoMo and I’ve got nothing but big empty blog posts ahead of me, I think it’s about time I told it.
It happened back when I was in college. I had these friends, some of whom worked for the local college radio station, all of whom were male (I went to an engineering school, what did you expect? A bevvy of Playboy bunnies? So sorry to disappoint you on that one.) Each year the local college radio station was given a certain amount of money (due to the current financial crisis, I should probably explain that, back then, this was something called “a budget”) to go and buy records (Yes, yes, I know. I’m old. This was back before we all had ipods. Bear with me. There is a point to all of this. Though, at this point in NaBloPoMo, even I don’t quite know what it is.) One day, the, ahem, “uber-bright” engineering students figured out that, due to the (then) current exchange rate, they could actually go up to Canada and buy twice as many records as they could if they stayed in the United States. (Clarkson University is about 13 miles from the Canadian border, as the crow flies, for those not in the know.) So, they loaded themselves into a van and drove north, into the great white snowy yonder to buy records. And, buy records they did. They bought about $900 worth of records (or so) which ended up being an “almost van full” of music. Thinking they were oh-so-smart, they then decided to go out and celebrate their new found musical acquisition by going to a local Canadian strip club (hey, don’t ask me to explain it. I’m just an innocent bystander in this one. Ok, maybe not so “innocent” but, I swear, I had no influence on their taste in strip clubs.) So, go out they did. And they enjoyed themselves, at the strip club, until it closed at about 2 o’clock in the Canadian morning.
One thing you may not know about crossing international borders is that there are certain restrictions. You cannot, for example, take a “van load” of guns across the border. Depending on which way you’re headed, either the Canadians or the Americans will stop you. They don’t like that sort of thing. It annoys them. It makes them stop watching soap operas, reading their books, or glancing at magazines long enough to fill out something called “paperwork” and they don’t like paperwork. It’s not sexy (well, at least, not to a Canadian border guards it isn’t.) While driving a “van load” of music might not sound as dangerous as driving a “van load” of guns, each is contraband in its own right. Music, in the form of albums, you see, is copyrighted material and, according to pesky international laws and such, you’re not allowed to drive mass quantities of copyrighted material across international borders (don’t try it, trust me, it’s not a good thing.) The, ahem, “uber-smart” engineering students, now drunk and “strip club tired” did not know this. They tried to cross the border, back into the United States and did something nobody ever expected them to do: They got arrested. Much to my dismay, this is where I come in.
(to be continued.)
Next, I’ll tell you about the phone call that started it all.
Until next time…