When I was much younger, I would stick it to the “Man.” To say that I am not the brightest tool in the drawer would be an understatment. Seems in my youthfully ignorant days, I refused to pay property taxes. As such, I would be pulled over for having expired tags. The officer would issue me a ticket and schedule a court date…to which I would fail to appear.

This means that a warrant would be sent out for my arrest. The next time an officer pulled me over for expired tags, I would get a free trip to the police station. Most of those court dates I managed to appear at. This went on for some years. As a result, I started to accumulate a hefty amount of fines. All told, the “fuzz” probably arrested me eight or nine times during my twenties.

Luckily, I never actually had to spend any time in one of these.

One time I had been covering a soccer game for the local daily newspaper. On my way to the office, as I was thinking about the story I would write, I was sitting at a stoplight. The car across the intersection from me turned left and went on its way. Naturally, I assumed it was my turn. However, the light was red. Additionally, there was a police car sitting behind me.

I rolled through and halfway in realized my mistake. Thinking ahead, I pulled over in a restaurant parking lot. The officer turned on his lights and pulled in behind me. He walked up to my window and said, “You are going to have to tell me what you were thinking.” I laughed and responded, “Would you believe I was ate up with the dumbass?” He laughed, and I ended up writing my story while being booked, printed, and photographed as I had a failure to appear warrant out for me. Go figure.

My father.

Now take my father. He had the wisdom that somehow passed me by. My wife and daughter and I were out at my parents for Sunday dinner. My father and I were sitting out on the porch just talking. I looked up and said, “These fines are killing me.” In his down-to-earth style, he chuckled and glanced over at me. In a calm, steady voice, he asked, “Did you learn yet?” The epiphany hit me like a ton of bricks. I nodded. “I just did.”

For some reason, I have not let my tags expire since. As a result, I have not been arrested for failure to appear. In fact, I have had the wonderful experience of staying out of trouble with the law. Now, when my wife had to pay all the back fees for my not paying property taxes for over ten years, I got in a lot of trouble. I don’t remember how long I had to sleep on the couch.

Mother and Father and me.