Posts

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A Brief History of Me!

A brief autobiography. Because everybody should have one!

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or explore the other posts in this series.

Overview: It occurred to me that everyone should have some sort of autobiography. It might be important in helping you organize your thoughts, tell your story, or just to write some part of you down for your future self to read. That being said, for today’s challenge, I present you with…

A Brief History Of Me

My parents moved to Columbus Ohio from Puerto Rico a few months before I was born. I guess you could say I was a journey man from day one. I grew up and lived a modest life on the north side of Columbus, Ohio graduating from Northland High School.

After High School I enrolled in the industrial design program at College for Creative Studies in Detroit Michigan with the desire to become a car designer. After a year in the program, unsure if I would be able to afford the next 4 years or be able to sit in a room and draw all day for the rest of my life, I decided to leave school and moved back to Columbus to “figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up”.

Shortly thereafter (March 2004) my mom and I went to visit my dad who had just moved to Manatee County Florida as the county surveyor. I saw an ad guaranteeing $36,000 a year to sell cars and figured “Why the hell not?”. I delayed my flight a few days so that I could take their sales training classes and flew back to Columbus the following Saturday. I packed all my stuff into the back seat of my 1999 Hyundai Tiburon, worked my last day as a lifeguard, had one final hurrah with all my friends before hitting the road back to Florida the next day. In one week I had gone from vacationing in Florida to living in Florida and shortly thereafter, my love for sales was born.

I was recruited from the car dealership to a local insurance agency to sell commercial property and casualty insurance. Things were going really well for me until one day they weren’t (I am skipping a few details here, but that’s 3rd date material). I ended up moving back to Columbus in November of 2009. Floundering around for a while, working misc jobs here and there, pretending to be a consultant, working at the swimming pool as a lifeguard again and I even managed a kitchen, all while trying to get back on my feet after my fall from grace.

Struggling to find a direction in life I felt lost, alone and worthless. I never gave up hope and I always knew I was put on this earth to do something amazing. I moved back to Florida in March of 2012 to chase my dream with reckless abandon. I figured if I was going to struggle and flail around in life, I would at least do it for myself. More than a year later I am doing well, building a reputation in the community as a thought leader in the world of sales and marketing, inspiring people through creativity and free thinking and I am now testing the waters with a few of my own ventures.

I have a variety of talents spread across a number of disciplines. I am an artist at heart, but I am also a skilled graphic designer, writer, web designer, user interface designer, I shoot and edit video in my free time, handle SEO, blogging, social media, write a couple thousand words a week and so much more. I am the modern day renaissance man with a passion for learning and everything creative. My quest for world domination is really a shill for me to learn and explore as much of the world around me as possible without having to do it under the constraints of someone else’s corporate philosophy.

I firmly believe that I have struggled in life as preparation for what is yet to come and am looking forward to the next chapter in my life. This website is my voice to the world. A place for me to speak my mind, stir conversation and show off my creative talents. Stick around for a while, bookmark the site and feel free to keep in touch as I claw my way from nothing to the top of the world!

 

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Perspective: Why We Are All Right In Our Own Eyes

“Maybe you felt uncomfortable with the way I portrayed you because I was right!”

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or explore the other posts in this series.

Yesterday I shared a very difficult experience from my past. It was an event that changed me forever.

Some of the other people who were there that day took issue with the way I portrayed them in that story.

I found that interesting, because a few of the others who were there reached out to me privately to let me know they appreciated that post tremendously.

But the truth of the matter is that I am only able to write from one perspective. My own. I can only tell my story from where I saw it, and I did just that, as honestly as I possible could.

No offense to those who did not like my thoughts, but they are my own and I am the one writing this narrative. I am the one exploring my thoughts. Maybe you felt uncomfortable with the way I portrayed it because you know I was right. Have you considered that?

Have you ever considered that the reason you hate hearing the truth because you know it’s true? Because you know that you are not being honest with yourself? Unwilling to let yourself see the real you. Hiding behind the person you want the world to think you are.

This is why I am challenging you to write every day for 30 days. Heck, maybe you’ll get hooked and end up like me. Unable to go a day without writing something. Even if it’s just a random thought. Even if it never gets shared, read or heard.

Because I want to tell my story. I want to give my perspective. I want to organize my thought so that I can learn how to understand myself as thoroughly as possible. And I want to share them with the world so that I can use them to hold myself accountable.

So thanks for being a part of this challenge and please, share your stories with us so that we can share them with the world. If not for me, then do it for you. I read them all myself, respond personally when I can and share it on my blog if it’s really good.

I promise you’ve never been as high as the moment when you get a note from a reader telling you that your work changed their life.

So express yourself! Share your thoughts! Define your perspective.

Because if you ask me, it’s the only way to truly live!

 

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Am I Responsible for the Drowning Death of A 13 Year Old Boy?

This article was featured on the Medium home page!

When I was 19, a boy drowned at the pool where I worked. I was the first responder. This is the story of that day as I remember it.

Dedicated to Murphy Shurig. Aug 4, 2002

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or explore the other posts in this series.

“Lifeguard, lifeguard!”

The screams were coming from a group of boys who moments ago were playing and throwing a ball back and forth. They were regulars at the pool but I didn’t know any of them well.

This was my first summer at this particular pool, so I hadn’t gotten to know all of the pool rats yet. I did know that they were all above average swimmers though. They were also just on the edge of my zone, (the part of the pool a lifeguard is responsible for watching). It was right where my zone and the other life guard’s zone intersected.

I thought they might be trying to get my attention as part of a game they were playing, something that is not all that uncommon. But when I looked over, I saw them holding up one of their friends. They were lifting him to the edge of the pool.

I looked over in time to see them setting him up on the edge and let him go. Just in time to watch his pale body fall lifeless to the deck.

And then time stopped…

THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!!

In what seemed like slow motion, I jumped from my platform on the guard chair down to the ground. I’m not sure why, but as I ran over to where the boy was laying, I pulled the whistle and lanyard from around my neck and flung it away.

When I got to where they had dropped his body I saw my worst nightmare laying on the ground in front of me. His skin tone was not natural. Not blue like they show in the movies, but not like any color skin I had ever seen before.

I checked for a pulse. It was there, but it was weak. The manager on duty must have noticed that something was going on because she started to walk over.

I screamed at someone  nearby to call 911, and ran to the guard shack for gloves and a mask. Thing I should have had on me at the time.

When I got back, the manager had starting rescue breathing. She must not have had the airway opened properly because that air went right into his stomach and not his lungs.

How do I know? Because vomit, that’s how. Lot’s of it. Right into her mouth!

Watching the kid throw up should have thrilled me, except this was not voluntarily evacuation. The air she was breathing into his stomach just needed to escape… along with whatever he had eaten for lunch.

I straddled his lifeless body and started thrusting above his pelvis and just below the belly button. Pelvic thrusts to make sure the airway was clear and to help purge the rest of whatever was left in his stomach so we could try the breaths again.

She cleared his mouth with her finger, put the mask over his mouth and tried to give him another breath. He threw up again but this time was different. This was a mild mix of foamy whiteness and whatever else was left in him from the previous purge.

I look to my right, towards the two other pools. The rest of the lifeguards are still sitting in their chairs. People swimming as if nothing was happening. I noticed that the lifeguard who had her back to me was turned around to see what was going on. I could tell she was crying. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to sit there and not be able to react.

My first thought was anger. “Why aren’t you helping?” And then I realized it was actually a good thing. It was a big facility and if they had cleared the pools, a huge crowd would be gathering around us.

Even then, a crowd was forming. Small at first, but the people who had cleared the slide pool were starting to notice that something was seriously wrong.

I continue scanning the scene. It was like time was frozen but I wasn’t.

I locked eyes with a mom who was standing there with her two kids. One on either side of her, under each arm.

“Get them out of here!” I shouted in her direction.

Where is the other lifeguard that was watching the slide pool with me? Shouldn’t she be handling crowd control? Did anyone call the paramedics? Breathe kid, Please just take a breath on your own! Dozens of thoughts were shooting through my head all at once.

I finally see the other guard. She’s standing over by the front gate, probably waiting for the paramedics. She was also crying.

I look back down, another breath, still nothing. I check for a pulse again. It’s there, but barely. No chest compressions, yet.

It get’s a little fuzzy from there, but those few minutes felt like forever. The next thing I know the paramedics were there and it was all I could do to get away from the seemingly lifeless body.

I took a step back and fell to my knees. How could this be happening to me?

I was prepared for this. I was the guard who was always stressing the importance of training. I was the guard who suggested that we start doing weekly in-service trainings, but “that would not be necessary at this pool!” is what I was told it.

“We’ve never had a drowning or major accident at this pool. There is no need for that kind of training.”

That’s what the manager told me earlier that summer. The same one who had just been mouth-to-mouth with a lifeless 13 year old boy.

What a shitty time to be thinking I told you so!

That was just a few days before another ominous conversation I had at the beginning of that summer. A conversation in which I told my girlfriend at the time (a lifeguard at the same facility) that “Someone is going to die at this pool.”

I wasn’t specifically saying that someone would die that summer, but I sure as shit said it, and I hate that about myself. I hate that I saw it coming and still did nothing.

I saw that the training was lax and that to most of the seasonal staff, life guarding was about getting a great tan and hanging at the pool all summer. They were all strong swimmers, and the pool was in a wealthy neighborhood. After all, things like that aren’t supposed to happen here.

At least that is what they thought, before that day.

Could I have done more?

I hated myself for not being more vocal. For not being more adamant when I saw someone sitting in their chair sideways, or ignoring the pool. I should have spoken up when I saw someone using the rescue tube as a pillow, or reclining in their chair for a better tanning position. But I was the new guy. What was I gonna to do?

It wasn’t like I spent the summer before that managing a another local pool, and the summer before that working the wave pool at a large water park. I quit counting after 100 rescues that summer. But not at this pool.

There we were, half way through the summer, and I hadn’t made a single rescue. Maybe they were right. Maybe nothing bad was ever going to happen here.

So I started to relax. I started to become complaisant. Mostly I just wanted to fit in. And after a few times of being called “Pool Nazi,” I decided to roll with the cool kids. I decided to set my intuition aside and do things their way. I decided to drop my guard.

But I should have known better. Because I was also the guy who had been through everything you could ever go through as a lifeguard. I was the guy who knew, that at any moment, something could go wrong. The one who should have been prepared. But there I was. The first responder, and unprepared. I was the guy who failed. And it might have cost the kid his life.

To make things worse…

The police wanted to talk to us right away. They took me and the other guard, the one who had run to the front gate to wait for the ambulance, and put us in the back of a cop car to fill out the required reports. A cop car that just so happened to be sitting at the base of the steps that lead to the entrance of the pool.

It left us sitting so that everyone leaving the pool, as it was being cleared, would have to walk by and see us sitting in the back of that car. I felt like a criminal. I couldn’t stop shaking. No tears though, those would come later.

After I was done with the police I went into the office where some of the pool staff and management was talking. I remember trying to call my parents to come pick me up, driving was out of the question. My dad answered the phone.

Before I could get a single word out, I started bawling. Uncontrollable tears as the reality of the event began to set in. One of the managers, or maybe one of the board members (I can’t really remember) took the phone from me to explain the situation and have them come pick me up. I was 19 years old.

A piece of me died that day, even though the kid lived. But just barely. He would never regain consciousness.

It would take me more than a decade to realize how this event had changed my entire trajectory. To realize that it sent me on a spiral of self destruction that would eventually lead me to drop out of college, move across state lines and bury myself in whatever distraction I could find.

I spent a lot of time at his bedside the next few days, until the family decided to take him off of life support. His pain was over. But mine was just beginning.

A final round of tests during an autopsy revealed that he suffered from some sort of heart condition. It just happened to hit him while he was under water. They said that the same thing might have happened to him if he was playing at a baseball diamond, or in his back yard.

But he wasn’t at a baseball diamond. He wasn’t playing in his back yard, was he? He was at a pool. He was at my pool. And I was the guy. I could have saved him!

I was left to replay the events of that day in my head over and over. Wondering what I could have done differently. Knowing that none of those thoughts were productive but allowing them to eat at me nonetheless.

The local fire station set up some counseling for us, but it wasn’t at all helpful. How was an hour of talking going to change anything? The memory would be forever engrained in the deepest creases of my mind.

I would later meet with the boy’s parents and deliver a letter I had written to them.  Two letters actually.

One was a firsthand account of the events of that day (in a sealed envelope in case they didn’t want to read it) and the other was a letter offering myself to them, in whatever way they might have me.

They never blamed me for the events of that day, but they didn’t have to. My worst fear had come true, and I blamed myself.

 

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An Inspirational Illusion; The Art of Hard Work

The power of mind over matter.

This is a short video about hard work and the illusions that we sometimes imagine when we see others succeeding or doing something we think we cannot do.

For so long I have pretended to be able to solve a Rubik’s Cube when in reality, all I was doing was looking for a specific set of patterns and then executing a memorized sequence of moves in order to make the cube whole again.

A skill that anyone could learn to do if they if they put their mind to it. However, any time I did this in public, it would appear that I was solving one of the most difficult puzzles known to man.

“They would never know my secret and the illusion of intellect is a powerful sword to swing.”

So often in life we give up on ourselves because we automatically presume that we are not smart enough, fast enough, tall enough or strong enough.Whatever the self imposed hurdle might be, it is usually set by we.

The individual has become weak and it is about time we started believing in ourselves again. It is about time we admit that we are usually the biggest reason for why we cant get anything done in life and then start doing something about that.

After making that realization, we can actually start to move past ourselves and towards success.

Video Script

I wrote the script for this video a while back and now that I bought my own camera you will start seeing a lot more content like this. Please share this with a friend and leave your comments below. 

This is my Rubiks cube…

I’ve had this Rubik’s Cube for more than 15 years.

Some people think that you can solve it by pulling off the stickers, but it doesn’t take too long to figure out that swapping the stickers isn’t a real solution.

When I got my first Rubik’s cube, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to solve it legitimately but then I discovered a little trick.

I realized that I could take the cube apart and reassemble it in the right order.

There! Good as new. No one would ever know the difference, that is, as long as I was alone when I did it.

So much for that little trick.

I was determined to find a way to solve the cube in plain site. I wanted to be able to stand in front of anyone and do something that no one else they knew could do.

So I went back to work.I spent hours trying to solve that damn puzzle, but I still couldn’t figure it out… until, I did.

I was searching for instructions online when I learned that there are a number of patterns that you can recognize, along with a series of moves that you can memorize, in order to solve the cube from any position.

I learned that there were turns and twists that would allow me to move a piece from one side of the cube to the other without disrupting the rest of my progress.

After a few months of practice I had it down cold, and for more than a decade I have let the world think I could solve a rubiks cube in under 5 minutes.

But why does any of that even matter? Who cares whether or not I can solve a rubiks cube legitimately.

What difference does it make when I am standing right in front of you solving it?

All that matters in that moment is that I can do it, and unless I’ve told you this story or you’ve watched this video, you’d simply think that I was solving one of the most difficult puzzles know to man.

So the next time you see someone doing something you think is amazing, something you think you could never actually do, I want you to stop and think about this story.

I want you to ask yourself whether they’re actually doing something amazing, something you are simply incapable of doing, or whether they’re just doing something that you are not willing to do?

Text on screen to close video

How hard are you trying to do the things you think you can’t do?

 


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Censored in Sarasota – Why I Got Kicked Off Radio [Updated With Audio]

Listen to the audio that got me booted from the radio show.

I Felt It Coming…

Sarasota is a city dead set on staying the same. Suppressing a new creative culture. Scared of the conscious capitalist.

These are the struggles of a stagnant city. A city with no vision, just more of the same… Rich. Old. Stale.

To be honest, I was surprised when the local community radio station (96.5 WSLR Sarasota) said yes to our proposed radio show.

I actually wondered why they were letting me be a part of it in the first place. It didn’t seem like their kind of thing but they said yes; we pitched the show and they said yes.

You’re Fired

“Don’t worry about them” Said E-man (referring to the radio station) as he cancelled a team production meeting in order to meet with the station manager.

Apparently they had reviewed the tape of our first show and wanted to talk.

E-man tried to be gentle but I reassured him that I already knew what he was going to tell me.

I told him I didn’t think he put up much of a fight but I know it wasn’t his call.

Told You So

I don’t know how many times I warned the members of our radio show that the station would not just let me come on their airwaves and ask my kind of questions.

I knew they would hate me. I knew it because this is how narrow minds always react to a guy like me. But the guy they got in that show is the same guy who writes regularly on this blog, and the same guy they met in their interviews along the path to approving the show.

Which means they either knew who I was and decided to give me shot anyway, or they were woefully negligent in their screening process.

It could be that they were woefully negligent in their screening process and then decided to cover up their own shortcomings through good old fashion serving of censorship, but honestly, I think they just couldn’t stand the thought of someone articulating views that contradicted the stations politics. I think they had no interest in letting me use their airwaves to challenge their thought process. Which is kind of the purpose of community radio isn’t it?

I guess I didn’t give it much thought at the time. I figured maybe they were different. Maybe there was a chance at open-mindedness.

I figured, what the hell! If they’re game, I’m game.

I Warned The Station

Before we signed the station agreement, privacy policies etc, Arlene, the former Station Manager reassured me “that’s not what this station is about” and “we are a community radio station so that’s fine”. It was her response to me telling her that I did not agree with the station politics one last time before signing our broadcaster agreement.

I told them I was specifically not in line with their liberal progressive political ideology and that they should “tell me now if they wanted me off the show”. I was again reassured that all would be fine.

I was told “different opinions” were not a problem.

We would even read a disclaimer before the show started; a message stating that the views and opinions expressed on our show were not those of the radio station or its management.

Google It

You would think they’d have taken a moment to get to know the guy they were about to put in front of a microphone for two hours a week.

You might think that they would have at least Googled my name and read a bit about me on my website where I pretty much talk about anything and everything.

I figured at the very minimum they would have listened to me at least one of the times I told them exactly what we planned to do on the show.

We explained that we were going to challenge our audience and break down relevant issues from a fresh perspective. We were going to take on pop-culture, politics, news and entertainment from a young, diverse perspective. We were going to meet at an intersection of ideas.

None Of That Would Matter

One week is all it lasted.

One whole show before someone “complained” and triggered the censorship machinery.

The station manager requested a copy of the tape, apparently hated what he heard, and then decided I had to go.

Of course, the show could continue; just as long as I was no longer a part of it.

Intolerance Of The Tolerant

Forget getting to know what I really stand for or having a legitimate battle of ideas.

Forget about how we might have brought in all sorts of new listeners.

Forget about the fact that a little bit of controversy could go a long way to increase the audience of a station that begs for exposure.

Oh, and please, whatever you do, don’t forget to forget the fact that we might have engaged an entirely new audience. A vastly younger demographic, in a city that struggles for ways to engage the 25-40 crowd.

Forget equal airtime or freedom of speech. Forget about their own mission statement:

WSLR is an innovative, listener-supported, non-profit, non-commercial FM radio station dedicated to serving the Sarasota community. WSLR features locally produced programming and presents cultural, artistic, and political perspectives currently underrepresented in the media. Our goal is to inform and empower listeners to play an active role in WSLR and in their community. WSLR’s programming promotes equality, peace, sustainability, democracy, health, and social and economic justice.

Forget everything they claim to stand for because apparently, none of it is true.

Like everything else in the world we live in, it’s nothing more than a structure, built by and as a direct result of, individual decisions. Built by man and ultimately fallible.

So Here Are A Few Questions I Have For The Radio Station

  • Am I not part of the community?
  • Did I not fulfill my volunteer obligations, complete station training, sign a contract and talk to you about how my ideology was different than that of the station?
  • What was different in the show we produced from the show we pitched?
  • Did you stop to think that people might actually like the show?
  • Why wouldn’t you at least give the show a chance to see if we attracted a larger listener base?
  • How can you be ok with censoring a member of the local community when you claim to fight for equality in so many other issues?
  • Why is my voice not as valid as all the others you allow on air?
  • Why should any of us even be surprised anymore?

Now Ask Yourself

If this is happening at a community radio station in sleepy Sarasota, then imagine the power structures behind the larger machine that is mass media.

The end!

Image Credit – Drooker.com

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The Night I Met Molly

My friends have been trying to introduce the two of us for a while now; I just haven’t been all that interested in meeting anyone new lately. I have never actually seen her but she has quite the reputation. I hear she is not much to look at, but they assure me we will get along fine, apparently we have a lot in common; we are both awesome and unpredictable.

I am a little worried because I hear she gets around. I’m not one to judge, or jump to conclusions, but I’m not in a hurry to feel like a whore either. I don’t want to be just another notch on her belt, though; I am rather curious to see what all the fuss is about. Surely she can’t be everything they say she is… can she?

The Decision

I keep telling my friends that I am not looking for a relationship but they assure me that she is not the relationship type. I figured, “what the heck”. I’m in need of a distraction in my life right about now, so I selfishly set my apprehensions aside and agreed to meet her. What’s the worst that can happen?

I selfishly set my apprehensions aside and agreed to meet her. What is the worst that can happen?

Later that day, I found myself debating whether I would truly be ok using her for my situational gratification? Could we really just enjoy each other casually, without attachment? Could I calm my concerns and simply enjoy her company, no-strings-attached? One date would not be so bad… would it?

Part of me is getting a little nervous. I am not looking to fall in love, but If she is half as amazing as everyone makes her out to be, then how will I ever resist a second date? What happens if I fall hopelessly in lust and find myself unable to control my composure.

We Meet

We decided to meet at a friends house. We picked a neutral site so there would be no unnecessary pressure on either of us. Mutual friends would be close in case things got awkward. We figured, worst case scenario, we would meet, feel each other out and then go our separate ways if things didn’t work out.

But the conversation was effortless, and before long we were lost. Oblivious to our surroundings, enthralled in the experience of each other’s company.

She Makes A Move

Every so often her leg would brush up against mine and I knew she was doing it on purpose. At one point she put her hand on my thigh and it was as if she had reached right through my skin, down to the bone, squeezed a nerve, and sent a chill running through my spine, up into my brain, culminating in a shiver that shook my entire body.

I had been warned about this; I knew she was making her move. I resisted the temptation to run off alone with her; there would be plenty of time for that later. Instead, we just sat there and enjoyed the moment. Slowly building on the tension that was quickly filling the air between us, growing stronger, growing evermore intense as the night went on.

My jaw clenched and my body quaked at the indecision of the emotions that were filling my head. The music coursed through us as if the radio knew just what we needed to hear at exactly the right moment. I looked around at one point and noticed that no one else was around us. We were alone with each other but surrounded by something I could not explain.

As time passed we grew closer still. By the end of the night we were in a full embrace, unable to keep our hands off of each other, consumed by the night, and in that moment I saw myself for the first time. Unencumbered by the constraints of society or the judgement of the people around me. It was like she reached down my throat, grabbed everything good that had ever been inside of me and smacked me In the face with it; setting me free, if only in that moment.

It was like she reached down my throat, grabbed everything good that had ever been inside of me and smacked me In the face with it; setting me free, if only in that moment.

My friends were right. 

She was not the prettiest girl at the party and I’m not sure there is any real long-term potential, but there was definitely something irresistibly attractive about her. She understood me and made me feel like we had been friends our whole lives. She wasn’t everything they told me she would be but I definitely want to see her again.


What do you think? Have you had an experience like this? Let me know about it in the comments below!

Image credit: http://s1300.photobucket.com/user/ShurshCrazy/media/Random%20Pics/null_zps1faa528e.jpg.html

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South

A Mostly factual account of the events that precipitated my move from Ohio to Florida. March, 2004


New Feature: Listen instead of read!

You can still find the full text below but I know most people don’t really like to read so…. your welcome!

Be sure to let me know what you think about this new feature down in the comments below.

Full Text:

There is no real ambition amongst most of my friends, no drive and no desire to escape this lower middle class monotony that we call life. I have a little side gig making fake ID’s out of my bedroom at my parents house. One of many skills I picked up and perfected during a short stint as a student at an overpriced art school in Detroit. I specialize in Georgia, Michigan and Ohio drivers licenses, and all of my friends have them. I can even replicate a hologram using this pearlescent paint I found online. They aren’t perfect but they work well enough and people pay whatever I ask, so I’m not really complaining.

I also work part time as the head lifeguard at an indoor pool where I oversee some of the lifeguard staff, manage some of the minor pool maintenance and coordinate a portion of the aquatic programming. Outside of work, whenever I am not making ID’s, I spend my nights bar hopping, trying my luck at various pool tournaments around town or drinking with friends late in to the night.

I sleep in most mornings. I’ll wake up with just enough time to do it all over again the next day. I recently found out that one of my regular ID customers is using them to cash stolen social security and tax return checks. I thought it was strange that he would need so many ID’s from me, all with different addresses, but I didn’t put two and two together until the friend who referred him to me spilled the beans.

“Do I really care?”

He pays me $150 per ID and orders multiple times per week. I know it’s not right but the money is good and it’s tax free. Between that and the steady referrals from friends and underage college kids, it’s all I can do to keep up with the demand.

I have already been warned that if I continue to make the ID’s my parents are going to kick me out of the house, not to mention the criminal charges I might face if I get caught, but I keep making them. I’ve actually been considering investing in a professional grade card printer. I found one online that will print both sides of a real plastic card and even encode all of the information on the magnetic strip. Right now I print them on photo paper, glue the two sides together and then laminate them together to get that plastic card feel.

I know it sounds sketchy but they are actually pretty realistic and will pass most random inspections. If the bouncer starts bending it, trying to fold it or really looks closely you are pretty much screwed. Most of the time a bouncer will just tell you to get lost and keep the fake ID but if there is a cop around you’re probably going to get arrested. I recommend you try another place if there is a cop by the door and eventually you’ll learn which places are the most lenient.

“If you do get caught it’s on you bitch! Drop my name and I’m coming after you hard.”

***

It’s hot. Not unreasonably hot for a local, but for a guy born and raised in the Midwest, it’s verging on unbearable. I wasn’t even supposed to be here right now but my brother couldn’t make the trip so I came instead. Mom and I on Spring break in Sarasota Florida. One of many trips to visit my dad who moved down here a year ago. They are still together but who knows for how much longer. I am not sure if they are still together to protect us from the pain of divorce or if they’re just waiting for my brother to finish his last year of high school. I don’t think they can tell but I know it’s over, it’s just a matter of time.

It’s been a long time since I was on a vacation and considering my recent decision not to return to college, it is a welcome escape from my typical routine. It’s not like I really need it. My whole life is pretty much a vacation right now. But still, here I am, relaxing in the pool, working on my tan while Dad is at work and Mom reads the paper.

“Wait… Where the hell did she get a newspaper?”

She never reads the newspaper and we don’t get it delivered to the house so it seems a little strange to see her reading it.

“Come look at this” she shouted across the pool. I make my way over to where she was sitting to look at an advertisement for a sales position at a local car dealership.

$36,000+ guaranteed first year income it read.

They would be accepting applications for the next few days and there were immediate openings for their next sales training program.

I hadn’t planned on looking for work while I was down here, not to mention that I have no sales experience whatsoever, but she insisted that we stop by and at least grab an application on the way back from the beach that afternoon.

“What the heck” I thought to myself. “That’s more money than I make now, even with the ID’s”

I’ve been complaining about not doing anything with my life. I just dropped out of school, and I don’t really have anything (legal) going for me back home. I figured “Why the hell not?”.

***

I walked up to the car dealership wearing a white button up collared shirt, half unbuttoned with the sleeves rolled up to my elbows. It was wrinkled as if I had just pulled it from a beach bag; because… I had just pulled it out of a beach bag. I was wearing my favorite shorts over top of a damp swim suit so there was an outline around the seat of my pants from sitting in the car on the ride over.

Before the sliding glass doors to the showroom had opened completely I was greeted by a salesman who approached me as if I was there to buy a car.

“I am here to fill out an application” I told him as I walked into the showroom.

He looked at me as if I was stupid or had just smacked him in the face and told me to “go see the receptionist” and he went back to his post, waiting for his next victim.

“Was this really the change I was looking for?”

“This is how you dress for a job interview?” Said the guy behind the table as I introduced myself.

“What? No, I…” stuttered as I tried to tell him that I was just there to pick up an application. Turns out that had I “read the fine print” I would have known that they were holding interviews on the spot.

“I can come back” I explained but he told me not to worry about it.

“Just fill out the application and have a seat over there.”

Gary came over to greet me and give me the once over. After giving me a little more grief about my attire, he invited me back to his office for the interview. I’ve always been a smooth talker so I just told him what I thought he wanted to hear, answered his questions to the best of my ability and crossed my fingers through the whole thing. I still wasn’t sure I wanted the job but I wanted to be the one to make that decision so I put my best game face on during the entire interview.

I’m not that worried, they are looking for a hustler after-all, and I’ve been hustling since I was knee high to a grasshopper. I used to help my mom deliver newspapers in the snow and I even had my own paper route by the time I was 11. I always understood the value of working hard but liked the idea of working smarter instead. I didn’t figure telling them about the fake ID’s would win me any points so I left that out during the interview, all in all, I left the dealership thinking it had gone pretty well.

The next day the phone rang. It was Gary, apparently I did enough to overcome my inappropriate attire and he wanted me to begin the sales training course this coming Wednesday.

“Holy moving too fast batman!”

It was all good news but there was one problem: my flight back to Ohio was scheduled for Thursday. It was life-changing decision making time.

I had to decide whether to:

A: postpone the flight, take the training and make a spontaneous, cross-state, move to Florida

or

B: Pass on this opportunity and fly back to my outlaw lifestyle of lameness in Ohio.

It wasn’t much of a decision really. I called the airline and pushed my flight back to Saturday so that I could take the training course. I still wasn’t sure wanted the job but I figured I would take the class and get a taste for the type of work I would be doing before fully committing.

I quickly realized that there were other hurdles I would have to overcome. Basically, I don’t own any dress clothes. Considering I am expected to show up in a shirt and tie for the training class this poses a serious problem.

Dress clothes are expensive as hell and I have about $100 bucks to my name right now. Mom saved the day though and with a quick trip to Wal-Mart, I realized that everything would be ok. I picked up a few of the tackiest ties I could find, a couple pair of cheap dress pants and dress shirts and I was ready to rock! #ThanksMom

The training was a breeze, I soon discovered that I was a natural at understanding the sales process and quickly became the teachers (Alex) pet. He was the same guy who had questioned my attire when I first came for the interview, the man behind the table that I talked to before being turned over to Gary.

We laughed at that experience as I explained the entire situation in more detail. I had fun in the training, thought selling cars would be something I’d have no problem doing and decided that I would in fact embark on this adventure.

My flight landed in Columbus mid-afternoon Saturday. I promptly loaded everything I owned in to the back of my Hyundai Tiburon and wondered how this adventure would play out over time. I had called work from Florida and let them know that this Sunday would be my last day. Short notice for sure, but I had a world to explore. The next day I went to work at the pool for the last time before my long drive back to Florida.

***

Every Sunday was Service Industry Night at one of the bars/pool halls we frequented. My friends and I would go each week for the cheap drinks and free pool. We had become friends with the bartenders over time and decided it was only natural to throw down at our favorite Sunday spot considering this would be the last time we would all be able to hang out for a while.

Family friends, childhood friends and a number of other people I hadn’t seen in a long time stopped by to say goodbye and wish me luck. We got drunk early, pounding shots, chugging beers and smoking cigarettes. I was on a mission to drink any doubts about my new adventure under the table. Everything was happening so fast.

A girl I had met before but didn’t know too well saw us all in the corner of the pool hall and came over with her friend to hang out with us for the night. There had never really been anything between us other than flirtation, but this night felt different. Maybe it was the excitement of the new job and move to Florida or maybe it was the six shots I had already thrown down but I knew I was about to get lucky. As the night passed I could feel the sexual tension between us growing. We drank more, eventually started making out and next thing you know we were at her place across the highway from the pool hall.

“Do you like to party?” She asked for the third time.

“Sure” I replied wondering why she was asking me so much considering we just left “my party”.

I would soon discover that my definition of “party” and her definition of “party” were from two different planets. Eventually, I figured out that she was trying to discreetly ask me if I wanted to snort cocaine with her. I had never done it before and I was definitely curious. Between the booze and the voices coming from my little head, my big head was having a hard time deciding what to do. I was verging on the edge of adventure.

I didn’t do it. I know I’d love it, but knowing me, I would have been instantly addicted. Within a week I would be on the corner of some crowded intersection offering to suck random dicks in order to get enough money for my next fix.

Later on I would regret not letting her snort a couple lines of coke of the shaft of my dick, but I was way too drunk to be that creative.

Instead it was off to the couch for me while she ran to her room to snort the 8-ball all by herself. There I sat in the darkness of her living room; alone, drunk, slightly erect and more than just a little pissed off.

When I woke up she was still crashed out in her room. I knocked but couldn’t wake her. I worried for a moment about her safety and then about how I would get home. She never woke up but I did get a hold of a good friend who had been with me the night before and asked him to come pick me up.

I sat there waiting for him to show up and couldn’t help but notice her purse sitting wide open on the coffee table. Right on top was a hundred dollar bill, maybe one that she had used to snort coke at some other time in her life.

I don’t know why I did it: maybe because she didn’t have sex with me, maybe because I was broke or maybe because I really am just that big an asshole. Regardless, I snatched that hundred dollar bill from her purse and walked right out the front door to meet my friend in the parking lot.

I would never see her again. Fuck it.

***

The drive began early Monday afternoon. My tiny car packed tight with everything I owned. Some miscellaneous clothes, computer and fake ID equipment along with a small TV. I had to leave some stuff behind, not knowing or really caring whether I would ever have a chance to come back and get it all.

I was looking in one direction and one direction only. Forward.

The doubts that creep into your head on a drive like this are terrifying. “What If I fail? What if I suck at selling cars? When will I make new friends? Where will I be in 5 years? Am I making the right decision? Should I turn around? What the hell am I doing?”

My bank account had a hundred or so dollars in it. I had the Franklin from the prude coke-head last night sitting in my wallet but there was no back-up plan. I’ve never been a saver, most all of my money is spent on drinks, partying and gambling on the pool table. I would be getting a small paycheck form the pool this coming Friday which will hopefully get me through to my first commission check from the car dealership.

I hate stopping on long drives. I just want to get from point “A” to point “B” as quickly as possible. This is the first trip of this length I have ever done alone but driving solo is nothing new to me. Thankfully the car is reliable and I had no mechanical issues to worry about on the way down. I do however, have to worry about exhaustion. I’m hung over and tired, but the excitement of new opportunities far outweighs my fatigue. For now.

***

I woke up to the horn of a truck honking at me from the next lane over. Half asleep, I realized that part of my car was no longer on the road.

Whizzing by on my left were the stanchions supporting the median divider. I had already passed over the rumble strip designed to alert me in precisely this situation. I could feel the lack of control in the steering wheel as the tires underneath me transitioned from asphalt to grass. My heart hit the top of my throat and I braced for the impact that was certain to follow. It never came.

I was somehow able to regain control of the car without rolling or even having any of my stuff fly all over the place. With only 60 miles left, this was all the adrenaline I needed to stay alert for the rest of the drive. It was about 7:00 am and I had driven straight through the night. I got to my Dad’s apartment as he was getting ready to leave for work. It was Tuesday morning.

I fell asleep on his bed when he left for work. I decided I would unpack the car later on after a nap. Not like there was much to unpack anyway. I had to rest, my sales life was about to begin.