Always Be Thankful You Know Me

(*Sally, you may read this story since you have already heard this story a few times. I think the important part here is, “I was not driving this particular night.”*)

Yes, I understand how terribly arrogant the title sounds (and for anyone who knows me this probably makes perfect sense). But it is exceptionally true people should be thankful they know me (and yes, you know I am referring to you). Not only because of my winning personality and wonderful demeanor but also due to the fact I have the ability to save people not only from themselves, but also differing law enforcement agencies. I know that sounds absolutely ridiculous, but a precedent has been set in my past and all I would like in return for my uncanny ability to make friends is some gratitude when I help a person out.
Sorry if I sound a little bitter right now. That’s because I am. I was reminded of this story the other day and I felt the need to share it with anyone who wants to know about how truly amazing it is to know me (the answer is nothing short of heavenly). People, seriously, just show a slight amount of gratitude when someone helps you out; it has got to be good karma or some bullshit.

While I was living through hell, or as others would call it, selling real estate in the Northern Virginia area I had a few clients I actually liked. This list is pretty short. And by pretty short, I think it is four or five people long. As I’ve stated before with no equivocation I hated that job. It was a soul-sucking existence that aged my youthful face. I’m pretty certain my life was shortened by a number of years due to that career choice.

I did have these clients though, Jeremy and Heidi Byrd (this story originally had their real names in it, but it was brought to my attention Jeremy could possibly get in trouble for this story and I don’t want that to happen to him. I hope who “Jeremy” really is gets a chance to know how much I appreciate him), I absolutely adored. They were great people. I was happy I had the pleasure of knowing them, and on occasion I wonder how they are doing, if they are still living in the house I sold them and if they know that they were, by far, the best clients I ever had the pleasure of working with. When we closed on their house I actually remember feeling a small pang of sadness shoot through my body since there really wasn’t a reason to hang out with them multiple times a week anymore. I compared it to having a good friend move away. Although, a $6,000 paycheck really does soften the blow anytime you lose a friend.

There was the random occasion I would see the Byrd’s after we closed on their house. Jeremy was a cop in town, so I would see him around while he was on patrol. Also, he said that he would be more than happy to come and pick me up if ever I was too drunk to drive, which I did utilize once or twice. One day he breathalyzed (I can’t believe that’s not a real word) me after he picked me up. I think I blew a .10 and I remember being pretty drunk that night (years later when I got arrested on suspicion of DUI I ended up blowing a .148 or something and felt sober, so you can imagine the fall into alcoholism that I had been through in that short time span). All of this is to say that they are amazing people and I hope that they are doing well to this day.

During the dark period of my life I was drinking a lot. Actually thinking about it, I kept this up for, well, ever, so I guess I should say I started drinking a lot. And when I’m drinking, just as many people do, I make the occasional bad decision (many of which end up as short stories). This is a story about one of these decisions and how glad I am that I am friends with Jeremy Byrd.

It was a random Friday night, actually it may have been a Saturday, I don’t really remember. My buddy, Drew, and I were out at some local bars in Manassas, as we tended to do every weekend. We were tossing them back and getting good and hammered since one of our good friends was bartending and we basically didn’t have to pay for anything.

Needless to say, we spent some time a little on the drunken side of life. So much had been drank that night in fact that the names of two of the key players in this story have completely left my memory, so I will be calling them Josh and Brian (these names were chosen by fate due to the fact that my friends, Josh and Brian, just walked by my table). I will be giving the short, Italian looking prick the name of Brian and the tall, Italian looking sensible one the name of Josh.

Now, I had seen Josh around before, but had never talked to him before this night. Brian was completely unknown to me. He was short, loud, arrogant, obnoxious, full of himself and obtuse (Massively drunk). This being said, I don’t know why I made the decision that I made that night, especially since this decision meant that I would have had to hang out with him for a good portion of the night. Thank god this story happened. I don’t think I could have hung out with him for that long.

Drew and I had met Josh and Brian in the parking lot of the bar we were leaving at 2 in the morning. We started joking around and soon the possibility of going to a party a few miles away came into the conversation. The more we talked about it, the better the idea seemed and soon we all piled into Brian’s car and started on our way to this party.

It was almost instantaneously that I realized that we might have made a terrible mistake.

Drew and I jumped into the backseat of the car as Brian mentioned that he wanted to take the back roads so there would be less cops. We’ve all been in that situation before, so I couldn’t fault him for that logic. Nobody wants to get a DUI. It’s not a rite of passage into manhood. It’s a terrible experience that I wish I never had to go through in my life.

It didn’t take Drew and I long to figure out that Brian was not ok to be driving that night. We were speeding through 25 mph zones doing 45 or more, swerving back and forth, narrowly missing cars at each pass. I remember thinking that this was going to end poorly, and then checked the stability of my seatbelt lock just in case we happened to get into an accident that night.

Now, the party we were going to was in an area of Virginia called Centreville, and there was a back way from Manassas that could get us all the way there without hitting a major road. Brian either was too drunk to remember this route, or just wasn’t aware of these roads. We jumped out onto Rt. 28 heading north to Centreville.

The entire time I lived in that area I never could wrap my head around why the speed limit was as low as it was on such a major road. I believe that it was 35 mph at the time. I always thought that it should have been much higher, at least 45 or 50. Brian apparently agreed with me on whether or not the limit should be raised and decided a good speed was 70 mph. I know this because I remember looking at the speedometer as he almost barreled into one of the metal guardrails on the side of the road.

Drew looked at me, with honest concern in his eyes and said, “Dude, we’re either going to die or go to jail tonight.”

It’s a fucked up moment where you realize that out of your options in life, jail is the more acceptable one.

I really hoped we would get pulled over. I wanted anyone to stop us. Brian was flying down the road, swerving back and forth, and a few separate times I was terrified that I was going to be meeting my life’s end. I didn’t want to die in a car with Josh, Brian and Drew. In fact, these may have been the last three people on earth with whom I wanted to spend my final minutes.

Never have I been so happy to see these lights.

Thank God for Jeremy

So when the blue lights flashed on behind us my heart rate, which was at a naturally   unhealthy level, actually started to slow down. It was probably the only time in my life that I felt relieved when I saw those telltale lights spinning behind me.

Brian pulled over to the median (the wrong side of it). Drew and I both let out a silent sigh of relief. I would imagine that Josh did also, but I couldn’t see him from where I was sitting.

Brian rolled down his window, and handed the officer his license and registration. The cop asked for everyone’s ID that was in the car, which we all handed to him.

Then the officer said something surprising, “Mr. Wright, please step out of the car.”

The other guys all looked at me confused, but as soon as I had heard the voice I knew had pulled us over.

“Yes sir,” I said, as I got out of the car.

I walked around the back of the car and over to Jeremy, who was standing there shaking his head.

“What the heck are you doing getting into the car with this guy?” he asked.

“Jeremy,” I said, attempting to defend my actions, “I just met this guy in the parking lot in Old Town. I had no idea how drunk he was. It was after we were driving that I realized how stupid of an idea it was.”

Jeremy shook his head.

“Alright,” he said. “Can you all get a ride home?”

“Yes,” I said quickly.

Jeremy got Drew out of the car and he and I went through our phones attempting to find anyone we could who wouldn’t be drunk at three in the morning (A good place to start looking for these people are the bartenders who got you drunk). After a dozen or more phone calls we finally found someone to pick us up so we could all go back to Manassas.

Brian was arguing that he needed his car the next day and was refusing to leave it. Josh told him to shut up and get into the car. They could come get it the next day. He also said he wanted to still go to the party even though it was now 4:30.

I thanked Jeremy and he said that I was lucky he pulled us over. I knew that was true.

I have spent my share of nights in jail and at no point in my life have I enjoyed the experience. I couldn’t thank Jeremy enough for making sure that none of us had to go through that again that night. I know that if it had been me pulling over the same group of guys that he had pulled over, at least one of them would have been in jail that night.

I went home that night and texted Jeremy again for letting us off. I will reiterate that I am exceptionally glad that I know him, and consider him a friend (even more so that he considers me one as well). He is a good person and the world needs more people like him. If he is reading this, allow me to say thank you for being the person that you are. If he isn’t reading this and someone who knows him is, pass that along for me.

A few days later I was out at a bar in town. It happened to be the one that Brian and Josh had been hanging out at the night Jeremy pulled us over. Amazingly enough, Brian was there. I figured I would go up and say “hi” to him and see how he was doing.

I asked him if he got his car back and he said yeah. Then he went on to tell me he couldn’t believe that the cops wouldn’t let him drive home that night, since he “wasn’t that drunk.” He also went on to tell me how they let him off because they were friends of his and they would never arrest him anyway because they all go so far back.

I asked him how much of that night he remembered, to which he said he remembered all of it. So I asked him if he remembered who was in his car. He stared at me blankly.

I reminded him that I was in the car with him when he got pulled over. He asked me if I was the guy who was friends with the guy that pulled us over. I told him I was.

He nodded, and I assumed that some form of gratitude was about to come forth. Instead he said, “Yeah, well I wasn’t that drunk, so he shouldn’t have pulled me over.”

I shook my head and told him I would see him later. I left the bar and went to a different one. I figured he was just a narcissistic prick and there is only room in my life for one of those.

I don’t know what happened to Brian. I have my guesses and all of them involve serious jail time or painful mutilations.

I should point out that I later heard he had lost his fiancé shortly before this time period and had been having a real hard time with it. This is probably the reason he was out drinking so much and acting out. I know he had gotten picked up on drunk in public just before this event for walking around his neighborhood drunk and wielding a firearm around, right after she had passed away.

I do feel bad for him about these incidents. He has experienced things I never want to go through and I honestly feel for him. But truly, you don’t need to be a little prick all the time. Say “thank you” and show some gratitude for what good fortune happens to smile down on your crappy, little life. Which is why, once again, I say:

“Thank you, Jeremy, for everything. Including being my friend.”

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