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Friday, March 15, 2013

A Life Gone Wrong


This is one time that I am really going to have to be careful not to mention names.  I doubt that any of the characters involved are alive today, but the old saying still applies; “Better Safe Than Sorry.”

I was a young man (22 years of age) with a promising future just beginning to take shape.  The one thing that I needed, as much as anything, was patience to get me there. I had a wonderful job with a position in mid-management, and a promise of bigger and better things to come with my employer.  I was still finishing college, married with a child.  Already I was enjoying the life of middle class or above, and driving my passion (muscle cars of the time).  My position with the company allowed me to rub elbows with the successful businessmen that we served, and the company management encouraged us to reach out and be ambassadors for the company.

One such highly respected businessman was very easy to be friendly with; he owned five franchises with one of the bigger petroleum companies in the area.  Whenever I dropped by one of his locations, that he operated out of, he would be outdoors barbecuing steaks, and of course I was always a guest.  The man was so extravagant that the steaks were always Fillet Mignon, and a beer or two to wash it down (keep in mind that this was private sector).  In all honesty at my age I couldn’t help but admire this man that was so kind and at the same time so very successful.

One of those times that I would stop by to see him as part of my work, he mentioned that he and a few of his friends were going to get together for a friendly game of poker, and he would like to see me in attendance.  Imagine my surprise when I arrived and found the game already in progress, and only $20’s, and $50 on the table as part of the pot.  The buy in was $20 dollars.  I mentioned to my friend that I thought the game was too rich for me especially that I didn’t even know how to play. I swallowed my pride and told him I was going to leave because I felt out of my element, so I excused myself and left.

Monday morning I went to work and was trying to figure out how I was going to explain to this client/friend how I didn’t fit in with his crowd.  He beat me to the punch by calling me mid-morning and inviting me to his office for a chat.  The first thing he said was I want to apologize for placing you in an awkward situation.  If you need to make some extra money, I can help you.  He went on to explain that every once in a while he needed to transport cars to the Los Angeles area, and back and could use a dependable weekend driver.  The pay was $1,500 for the round trip, one car delivered and another car returned.

A mere 350 mile drive one way (approximately 12 hour round trip).  My mind started working overtime thinking of how I could use the money.  At a time when minimum wage was under $2, and I was making $250 for about 50 hours of work (supposed 40 hour work week) I was looking at making 6 weeks’ pay in one day. The opportunity was two weeks down the road, and I told him, I wanted time to think about it and clear my schedule.

Somehow my mother found out about it (me and my big mouth), and she called me a couple days after I received the information.  She was so wonderful and level headed; all she said was, I heard that you might take on a job that sounds too good to be true and legal, I always pray that you stay safe and make good decisions.  Think how disappointed and hurt I would be, if you get in trouble or hurt.

After much thought (I didn’t even pray about it, because I knew it couldn’t be a good thing), I contacted my friend and apologized for not being able to go through with it.  I made an excuse about not being free that weekend.  All he said was there will be other opportunities.

A couple of months went by without communication from my friend/client so I dropped by his office, and was told by one of his managers, that the weekend I was supposed to drive for him, two of three drivers got stopped on the return trip and were busted for transporting large amounts of drugs hidden in the vehicles.  I never found out which vehicle I would have been driving (I didn’t care to know how close I came to ruining my life).  I was told that my friend was out of the country on vacation until further notice.  As far as anyone knew he wasn’t even under investigation (he was just playing it safe).

I get tired of people posting on Facebook, that god must think they are Superman or Wonder Woman because he gives them so much responsibility.  My thought is that God gives us only what we can handle, but we are allowed to make choices, and the outcomes are based on those choices that we make.  My life could have turned out so ugly, and yet my love and respect for my mother, and family, allowed me to make a good choice.  The best is yet to come….

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