About That Time A Cop Saved My Life Or Something...
It's New Years Eve, 2018, soon to be 2019. For all the criticisms I take about my own criticisms of crooked cops, I thought I would share a story about the time a cop saved my life, only three hours into 1998.
The year was 1997, and I had a date with an angel, in Cleveland, for New Years Eve. Her name was Tara, I'd met her at a show that my former band was playing at Peabody's Downunder, the old location in The Flats.
I drove up Route 8 North, arrived at about 9 pm. I walked to the club anxiously awaiting my date. I really like this girl, a lot. I'm sure she had nice tits.
It was around 11 pm when I started to figure out I had been stood up. A friend later told me that she said she didn't want to date a guy with a baby, referring to my son, who was about 18 months old.
Back then, I just didn't give a shit. It was about 5 minutes before I found another girl to hang out with and get wasted. You win some, you lose some, and if you didn't like my kid, back then, you could jump off a bridge for all I cared. He was everything to me.
Sometime between 11 pm and 2:30 am I'd consumed an excessive amount of alcohol, probably more than any one human being should consume in one sitting. I was that guy, though. I could party twice as hard as everyone else and not die. I attribute this to the fact that I am German-Irish-Czech and virtually unkillable when it comes to drinking. Well, I used to be at least.
I remember saying goodnight to my new date, stumbling back to my car, getting ready to make the 45-mile drive south back to Ravenna, where I was living at the time.
I don't remember most of the drive, which was normal for me. I had times where I was in Cleveland partying with my friends, closed my eyes, and somehow I had driven 35 miles while I was asleep. It couldn't happen to me, you know? I was a metal guitar playing God so my death at 27 was inevitable, but I wasn't 27 yet, so I was in the clear and even if I did die, fuck it, right? Metal.
It was a combination of my love for my son and my love for thrash music that led to me being completely startled when the police lights came on behind me. I pulled over, started looking for my F.O.P. card, or my eternal get out of jail free card that my dad had given me, as he was President of the Fraternal Order of Police, or treasurer, or something, I can't remember.
All of the sudden the cop comes over his loudspeaker, screaming, "Get out of the car, get out of the car!!" When the cops used their loudspeaker, you know you're fucked. I immediately complied, got out of the car and put my hands up, when he started yelling, "Get away from the car!!" I looked over that the car and I'll be God damned if the God damned thing, a 1994 Nissan Sentra was on God damn fire.
I ran back toward the officer, swinging around to look at my car when the entire thing went up in flames. Wide-eyed, I stared at my car, as the cop radioed for a firetruck.
He yelled at me, "Jesus Christ man, I pulled you over because there was a 20-foot flame shooting out of the bottom of your car, like a fucking rocket!!" I just started laughing and handed him my F.O.P. card, and said, "Well, I guess this isn't really going to help me now, is it?" He said, "Oh, your father is Jeff!" I said, "Yeah, unfortunately." He thought this was funny, but most cops knew why I felt that way.
He said, "How could you not know your car was on fire?" I said, "Well, I had Metallica blasting really loud and I had a photo of my son over the temperature gauge, but now that you mention it, it was stuttering like it was overheating just before you pulled me over." He said, "Well, you're lucky I pulled you over because that car would have gone up with you in it!"
Eventually, the fire department completed dousing the towering inferno that was now my former love machine, leaving only a blackened metal hull. I looked at the cop and said, "Hey man, can you give me a ride home to Akron, where my Mom is?" He said, "No, but I can drop you off at the city limit at the Walmart."
Twenty-minutes later it was around 4:45 in the morning when I called my mom on a payphone, "Um, Mom, yeah, Happy New Year, but can you drive up to Fairlawn and pick me up?" I was met with a very loud, "What?!" Of course, this was funny to me because the last time this happened, I had gotten drunk and woken up in Canada, in Niagara Falls, with no idea how I got there. By this time in my life, these late night can you pick me up calls always came with some completely insane story.
She came to pick me up and said, "Well at least you didn't wake up in another country, this time!" I said, "Yeah, that cop totally saved my life."
Decades later, I cannot remember that cops name, but I have never forgotten what he did, or the year that my vehicle exploded only hours into the New Year, which would start a long string of terrible New Years events, like the time, about ten years later, when I was sitting in a Waffle House, the ball dropped, everyone yelled Happy New Year just as I bit down on a soggy-ass waffle and broke one of my teeth.
My mother told me that I have lived my entire life with a black cloud over my head, saying, "If something bad can happen, it will happen to Matt. It never fails."
I realise how lucky I was that police officer went out of his way to get me out of that burning car, because if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have been alive seven years later to get beaten half to death and have my spine fractured by a Summit County Sherrif Deputy, at the welfare office trying to get food stamps because I was starving.
People asked me why I never sued over that attack. It was because about six months after he crushed my spine, on my way to the 65th doctor's visit he'd caused me, I saw him walking with his head down and get into a rusted out 1986 Ford Tempo G, not even a GL with an AM/FM radio, a Tempo G, which I am pretty sure had a hand-crank start, and paint was optional.
I realized that guy was suffering and was probably just having a bad day when he randomly charged into a room and smashed my face into a granite wall without provocation and then beat me like a dog, in the street, with an asp.
I actually had sympathy for the guy, because truth be told, I was suffering, too.
The moral of the story, this glorious New Years Eve is that not all cops are bad, just most of them.
Happy New Year, folks.