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