Who’s bad?

This afternoon I was contemplating life, liberty and the pursuit of a regular intake of fiber when I was somehow reminded of a feeling that I haven’t had in a long time. No, not the one associated with a lack of fiber. I remembered a feeling that I used to get when I was younger. That feeling that you get right before you know you’re about to do something bad or wrong. I honestly can’t tell you what spurred this thought, it just popped into my head.

I know there’s a lot of people out there who get that feeling on a daily basis. The feeling or thought is “act now and worry about the consequences later.” There’s that rush of adrenaline just as the little devil on your shoulder convinces you to do it. I haven’t done anything too terribly bad in my lifetime. I remembered a time when I was in high school and snuck out of my parents’ house to drive to Houston in the middle of the night. Houston was sixty miles from our house. I knew it was wrong. Come to think of it, I’m sure I was already grounded at the time.

Ahhh, what a rush. Being bad. Defying authority. Doing what I wanted to do – acting all grown up. Hours later, as I was walking back up to my house in the pitch black country night, I was greeted by a flashlight shining in my eyes and shotgun pointed at my head. My dad had heard the racket of my reentry and thought I was a burglar.

Another time that I remember getting that ’bout to be bad adrenaline rush was when decided to walk out on a job, also while in high school. I knew it was wrong because I had loyalties to my employer and more importantly, I had a car note. I was a short order cook at the local tavern. We were slammed that night and I had plans to go out with friends after work. I knew I wasn’t going to get to leave anytime soon, so I just walked out. I snuck out the back door where no one could see me. I think about that now and I laugh. I laugh at the stupidity of my logic.

I guess I was reminded of that feeling because I realize that I’m growing up. The risks I take now are refined and for my own betterment.

Deborah Nolan was her name. She was my boss at the Tap Room. That was the local tavern at which I worked as a short order cook. I actually saw Deborah in the Des Moines airport on Christmas Eve of 2002. It’d been around 10 years since last I saw her, the night I walked out on the job. And here we both were, thousands of miles from where we once had a working relationship. I was waiting in luggage claim for Elise and her dad to pick me up. I saw Deborah, her husband and their grandchildren waiting for their luggage. I watched her and her family. I was pretty sure she wouldn’t recognize me because the last time she saw me I had long hair, wore a hat turned backwards, combat boots, shorts and a flannel shirt tied around my waist.

I thought about walking up to her and saying hello. In hindsight, I should have. I think the only thing that kept me from approaching her was the fact that I would have had to say “Hi Deborah!” There would’ve been an awkward pause and she would have thought: “How does a stranger with no luggage in an airport know my name?” “I doubt you remember me. My name is Josh Janicek. I used to work for you at the Tap Room. Well, I actually walked out on my shift and never came back.”

Maybe I wouldn’t have had to say that. If I didn’t, what if she remembered it and it just wasn’t brought up. Either way, I decided to grab my bag and make my way to find Elise and Steve.

So Deborah, I’m sorry for walking out that night. I’m sorry for not saying hello in the airport.

Mom and Dad, I wouldn’t know where to begin, but I’m sorry.

I wonder if I’ll ever see shoulder devil again. I’m sure I have and subconsciously made the right decisions because I knew that I would have to pay the consequence. Maybe I’m losing my edge – my spontaneity. Maybe I should just sit closer to the TV and drink a Coke before bed. Oooh yeah. I’m still bad. I still got it.

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