Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What Could Go Wrong?

It snows maybe once a year in Portland, and even then it's usually a light dusting of powder that melts upon impact. For the most part, that's how we like it. We're accustomed to our temperate climes, coddled by the cool Northwest breeze, spoiled by the lush views of endless green. And when that fantasy threatens to fade, Portlanders lose their shit. Such was the case in the winter of 2008 (my first year in Portland) when it actually snowed a great deal. Having spent the previous four years in Boston, I was unfazed by the abundant snowfall, but my attitude was not shared by the rest of the city. People flipped out. The city shut down.

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Walking around outside that winter, it felt like the world had ended. Nobody ventured outside, save for a few brave souls on their way to the grocery store to stock up on Tyson Any'tizers® Buffalo Style Boneless Chicken Bites. It was almost eerie how desolate the city felt.

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If there's a point to be made here, it's this: freaky weather makes people act a fool. I hope you'll keep this fact in mind as you read, and I pray you'll be lenient with your judgements as I recount how I ended up in handcuffs a few weeks back. It began, as most things do, with a girl.

My friend Paige was in town for a couple days and I hadn't seen her in a few years, so we took it as an opportunity to reconnect. We met up for drinks and had a lovely go of it, and everything was wonderful, etcetera, etcetera. Cute story, yeah? Well, no. I don't tell cute stories. I spin tales of sorrow and woe, and you should know that by now. Moving on.

It was unbearably hot during our walk home from the bar. Strangely hot for Portland, in fact, and combined with the humidity, it felt like trudging through clam chowder. After a few blocks we felt disgusting.

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That's when we had the brilliant idea to find a pool somewhere, because we're goddamned geniuses. Thinking back, Paige and I made a number of silly decisions as kids, so this night was par for the course. I brought up Google Maps on my phone and located a high school a couple blocks away. We figured there might be a pool inside and set off down the street.

If you're thinking this story can't possibly end well, then congratulations, you are officially smarter than I am. Now shut up.

We found the school in question and set about looking for a door that had been left unlocked, or a window left ajar, and it didn't take long before I spotted a window that wasn't quite closed all the way. It was on the second floor but easily accessible by a flight of stairs leading up to the main entrance. It looked so simple. The perfect crime.

The window beckoned.

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Of course, I obliged. Paige hoisted me up, because I always have to be first, then I lifted her up after me.

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I closed the window behind us and we ventured forth into the darkness of the empty school, looking for a pool in which to cool off. Unfortunately our search proved fruitless, leading us not into the cool embrace of water, but into the dank depths of the school's basement––specifically the boiler room. We explored a bit, but with little to see, we were about ready to leave the premises and declare the adventure a bust. On our way out, we passed a console against the wall and noticed a flourish of activity happening on the dashboard.

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Suddenly it dawned on us that we had clearly tripped a silent alarm, and we needed to escape. Fast. We tore out of the building like our lives depended on it.

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We'd made if halfway across the front lawn when we were intercepted by a cop.

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Within minutes we were both cuffed, feebly attempting to explain to the officer that we were just looking for a pool. We were met with skeptic looks of disbelief, which gave way to pity at the two idiots who wouldn't even consider a high school might be equipped with any sort of security system. A few more cops showed up, and then the superintendent of the school, who decided to make an example of us and press charges. We were separated into separate police cars, and our information was taken.

I find that in stressful situations, I'm unable to take anything seriously and tend to make jokes as a defense mechanism. Even in the worst situations I find myself making jokes, so the information I gave the cop was borderline nonsense. He asked me what my hair color was and I told him "Dark brown, with some gray. More gray than I'd like, but what can I do, right?" It got worse from there.

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Fortunately the cop had a sense of humor. I found out later that he'd listed my hair color as simply, "gray" and would add several pounds to my weight just to screw with me. On the way to the police station we discussed our favorite episodes of COPS.

In lockup they took all my possessions, fingerprinted me, and told me to settle in. I took a seat, feeling out of place in my polo shirt and Montauk Red chinos, looking like I'd been arrested at a clam bake. I surveyed the folks around me. Most of them were drunk or asleep. I was hoping things would stay quiet when a new culprit appeared, screaming about his arrest to nobody in particular. From his rant, I gathered he'd been booked on domestic assault charges, but according to him, he was the one who'd been abused, not his girlfriend.

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I briefly considered mentioning to him that he meant "judicial," not "judicious," but thought better of it. He marched around the holding area for a while but eventually settled down and commenced mumbling profanities under his breath, and that's when another, even louder guy showed up. This one was clearly high, covered in meth scabs, and it was obvious from his scrapes and bruises that he'd resisted arrest. During the next fifteen minutes he made collect calls to no fewer than 8 people, trying to find someone to bail him out. With each subsequent phone call his story changed drastically, but he always painted himself as the victim. Every person he dialed hung up on him before he could get his full fabricated story out.

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The entire time I could feel my heart rate increasing. I prayed that when the guy finally gave up on calling someone to get him out of jail, he wouldn't sit next to me. I'm afraid of very few things in this world. Zombies scare me, sure, and I'm not too fond of bees, because they'll kill themselves just to make you uncomfortable for a few hours. They're like tiny angry samurai bent on seppuku. No thanks. The only thing that makes me truly squeamish are meth scabs, and I shouldn't even have to explain why. The words "meth scabs" should have been enough to make you vomit all over your computer screen. I'll wait while you wash the Lean Cuisine off your monitor.

All clean? Great. While I listened to this dude blather into the phone, all I could think about was him sitting next to me and his nasty methy scabby skinflakes rubbing off on me.

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Fortunately he retired to the bathroom after that, then treated us to an off-key rendition of Hot Chocolate's "You Sexy Thing" from behind the closed door. After that he ceased making noise entirely, and we forgot about him altogether. Come to think of it, he might've died in the bathroom and none of us would have known. I can't say I'm too torn up about it. I still feel itchy from thinking about his scabs. If I ponder on it too much I can almost taste them, and... I just... I need a moment. My throat is closing up...

The rest of the night was uneventful, and after a few hours they notified us of our court dates and released us into the early morning dawn. Exhausted, Paige and I had one thing on our mind, and that was coffee. Like a beacon of hope, we spotted a Starbucks on the corner.

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Properly caffeinated, I bid farewell to Paige, confident that our time in the clink had cemented our friendship for life.  Jail changes you forever, and we now shared the unspoken solidarity that only hardened criminals share. I made my way home and just before climbing in bed, decided to check out the mugshots of other folks who had been arrested for trespassing, and discovered I was in good company.

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In the end, the judge downgraded my crime to a violation, meaning that after some minimal community service, the incident wouldn't appear on my record. Now nobody would ever have to know about my awful decision.

Except now everybody knows. Oops.

My troubles didn't end there. As if to kick me when I was down, fate saw fit to assign me jury duty the very next morning. I reported to court the following week and was chosen for council. During the interview process, I was asked a few questions by the defense, one of which was "have you ever been to court before?"

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Marching out of the court room, I thought to myself, "Would I rather spend a few hours in the clink, or days, possibly weeks on a jury for some girl who shoplifted a tube of mascara?" In an odd way, the circumstances had turned out for the better. A few hours in lockup had saved me from a God knows how long session of jury duty.

Moral of the story? Apparently I can do whatever I feel like and it'll all work out in my favor.

76 comments:

  1. Just brilliant writing and art, still want to see an animated version or a a book :)

    Contact Comedy Central

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  2. Great story! Love the Flawless Victory illustration. You are a brilliant artist and story teller.

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  3. I made it about 1/4 the way through before I realized that you had written "Portland" and not "Poland."

    I think it's a better story with "Poland." Don't change anything else, though.

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  4. I fucking love a man in Montauk Red chinos.

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  5. I swear this blog makes me laugh hysterically everytime....I should probably stop reading it at work...

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  6. I feel bad that I'm enjoying the fact you were arrested. Mostly because you made it sound so funny...

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  7. Where's your mugshot??? I agree with Kate though for real...maybe I should stop reading this blog at work to avoid the stares of coworkers that silently scream "Nate's finally snapped! Run for your lives!"

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  8. To think I spent four days on a jury because a druggie died in a moving van, and all I had to do to get out of it was have one wild night.

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  9. Each time you do a blog post, it completely makes my day. You, sir, are brilliant.

    Seriously couldn't stop laughing at this. And facepalming. So basically while I was reading, I was just like, "HAHA! ... *facepalm* ... HAHAHA! ... *facedesk*" XD You rock, dude. Keep it up.

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  10. when you mentioned that you ended up in handcuffs, for reasons unknown, i immediately jumped to the conclusion that the story was about a BDSM experience gone awry (which could have also made for some amusing artwork ;p).

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  11. Meth scabs? Meh that's pretty gross.
    The mention of lean cuisine /combined/ with meth scabs however, made me more than a little sick feeling.

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  12. All I can say is, Adam you never cease to make me laugh with your blog posts!

    You've outdone yourself here...

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  13. Flawless Victory NEEDS! to be on a t-shirt

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  14. What EmilyK said. T-shirt for the win.

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  15. Oh man, some of those mugshots are as good as your drawings!!!

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  16. @Tessey: I love you, thanks!

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  17. I just found your mugshot on the interweb because I was curious. You look so smug and snide. It is pure awesome!

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  18. Your mugshot needs to be in or around this blog.

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  19. OMFG, i never laugh as much on my daily interweb scroll as when i read your posts. thank you, sir, thank you very much.

    m

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  20. This story almost seemed too outlandish to be true...until i saw that mugshot. well done, sir, well done.

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  21. Love this.

    I remember the snow of 2008. And then I moved to NC...and we thought Portlanders freaked out at the mere thought of snow. You should see these Southerners.

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  22. Oh my God. Make the final frame "FLAWLESS VICTORY" available on a shirt, and I'll buy one right now!

    A W E S O M E

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  23. I love that the window has hair. For no good reason.

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  24. This is seriously cool. You need a TV show.

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  25. Totally agree that people lose their shit in weird weather. We had an ice storm in January in Atlanta this year that shut the city down for almost a week.

    I agree you should make shirts available.

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  26. I giggled everytime I read "Paige"..... Is that weird? Lol.

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  27. I'm picturing you making every single expression in this post as you draw them and it makes me so very happy. Well done, as usual, sir.

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  28. There better be a Flawless victory shirt in the works somewhere. I would totally buy one lol

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  29. OMG like a boss. you are truly awesome.

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  30. Your mugshot is brilliant. You should make it your default (minus the police logo).

    Love your blog.

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  31. I'm reading this, and full on wondering where the hell this story is going and bam! the ending! Loved it Adam.

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  32. I'm pretty sure I type this every time I leave a comment, but you are awesome.

    The Moral made me laugh out loud... perfect. Thank you for sharing your stories!

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  33. Being a born and raised Minnesotan, I laugh outrageously at people that freak out about a snowflake. I live for snow!!! :)

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  34. I live in Mississippi, and we have the same problem with snow...nobody knows what to do with it, the town shuts down, and there are 10,000 wrecks because no one knows how to drive in snow...

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  35. Flawless Victory needs to be a shirt. I want ittttt.

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  36. I have to say, I saw some pretty interesting and/or hilarious characters when I was in jail for blowing a .18.
    It was hilarious.
    All the cops kept saying "...wait...why are you in here again? You don't seem intoxicated."
    They had this awesome soundproof room with glass walls, and across from all the walls were chewabacca pictures with X's through them. Loved that. Also one guy cried for like two hours while a lady cop petted his hair and conforted him.

    I was like what the fuck, can I go or can you give me some more black-female-oriented magazines?

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  37. I totally had a similar situation with my one evening in the jail abode...except with a prostitute with track glue and no tracks and all the other arrestees telling me I looked "too nice to be in her"...I then told them looks are deceiving and got a couple new clients for my esthetics business out of it. Flawless Victory indeed sir.

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  38. You are TOO fucking funny! I suck! I must die!

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  39. It worked out for you, but did it work out for Paige? Not that I would dream of rescinding your flawless victory...

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  40. Soooo.. you DO know that you have to print a "Flawless Victory" T-shirt now, right? Waiting (im)patiently...

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  41. I absolutely love the comics. I would give up one of my pinkies to be able to do what you do.

    Serious question: How bad is the weather in Portland, really? Thinking about moving there, but I hear the clouds make suicide seem attractive for six months out of the year.

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  42. Mugshot or it didn't happen.

    Hilarious as always!

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  43. How come whenever you draw yourself you look good but when you draw other people they always look really creepy?

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  44. I remember 2008's winter in Portland very clearly. I decided to ride the MAX for the first time from Gresham to Lloyd Center....when the doors closed, and the max started to move, this dude started screaming at someone on the street....he then punched the window, shattering it, the MAX stopped, the cops were called, and I didn't get to the damn mall.

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  45. First of all, I LOVE both your artwork and the story. You’re a fantastic storyteller, Adam! Since I’ve never been in jail, I can’t personally relate to your scandalous criminal incident, but thought it was deliciously hilarious.

    But I can definitely relate to Portland’s “petrifying” snowfalls.

    We moved here from Chicago about 10 years ago and were used to brutal, bone-chilling winters with heaps of snow and ice. Nothing closes down. Our first Portland snowfall amounted to about 1/4-inch. We were like WTF? when the entire city came to a terrified standstill.

    With all the steep hills and valleys here, drivers are always sliding into ditches because the city of Portland doesn’t have enough sense to salt the damn streets like they do in Chicago--where it’s flat.

    That said, I love it here and try do my part to keep Portland weird. :)

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  46. If you were in West Portland, than in all probability you broke into one of the two high schools I attended. If it was on Google Maps and marked as a pool, you probably broke into my first high school, MLC.

    Life's little connections...

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  47. I don't remember which winter you are talking about but lately we've been having weird winters... I forget how many years ago it was but we had like 2 inches of ice, then 4 inches of snow, 2 more inches of ice and 4 more inches of snow, aha.
    Portland, OR is fabulous.

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  48. You and I both know that the last picture is ending up on a shirt. Don't deny it. It's going to happen.

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  49. Dude. You're fucking amazing.

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  50. Sweet baby Jesus!!! You are officially my hero!!!

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  51. I'm in college in NC but from Vermont. When there was a half inch of snow, everybody freaked out and my classes where cancelled for a week.

    I was more afraid of the idiot drivers (even in the best weather people drive like it's a NASCAR race down here...) than I was of the snow on the road. I was viewed as crazy by a few people by going outside and getting some food as well.

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  52. The "Flawless Victory" image needs to be made into a poster or t-shirt, something I can show off. Another brilliant post!

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  53. I just about peed my pants at the flawless victory cartoon, well done, sir.

    Also--The snow, a single flake shuts down the entire place? Yea...I know how that goes. I live in the Outer Banks of North Carolina...it's the same deal here. I was the only one brave enough to venture out...and find that nothing was open. Including my job. Ugh.

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  54. I want flawless victory on a T-Shirt. NAOW.

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  55. Meth scabs? Ewwwww! I didn't even know those existed. Thanks for that icky discovery.

    And are you being paid to advertise for Tyson? Not that I care; if they'll pay you to mention their products in a story, I'm all for it, but was just curious. :D

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  56. Hah! Take that JUDICIOUS SYSTEM! XD

    I bought the flawless victory shirt, because I was having the shittiest day working on my BFA application, and while your blog always makes me laugh, today was no exception.

    I've followed this blog almost a year now and this is my first time commenting. Thanks for being you.

    Also your best facial expression is you eating fondant. Put that on a shirt, I'll buy that too.

    Looking forward to your next post. :)

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  57. Oh my god I love you.

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  58. Holy shit! A fellow Redditor!
    Found your blog on StumbleUpon a few months ago. I have since gone back to read them from the beginning. I can't get enough :)
    Anyway, I was derping along on my favorite website today, and I saw a post called "To Draw a Redditor." I recognized the style right away, and had to tell you about it, because I'm sure it's the most exciting thing you've heard all day.
    Good bacon to you, sir. Happy trails.

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  59. I'm pretty sure that I just fell in love with you.

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  60. http://www.pdxmugshots.com/mug/adam-james-ellis

    Thanks pdx mugshots!

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  61. Your mugshot isn't even bad! Only you could take a good mugshot.... seriously

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  62. This was hilarious! But I thought everyone knew NEVER to break into high school pools after this video...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QFwo57WKwg&ob=av2e

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  63. If you google 'meth scabs' this page is the seventh hit.

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  64. Oh, man this was a funny story! Good one, Adam.

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  65. Harness Your Bias: While you may have some solid presumptions around a specific item restricted or the other, verify: 1) you don't have a vested intrigued by the item, and 2)

    http://www.propaperswriting.com/

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