You know what was fun? One time I got to drive a police car to Phoenix from Sahuarita, Arizona where I was the Town Clerk. I got to drive the car to Phoenix because we were taking them to have the painting done. So they were all white police cars with just the Christmas trees on the roof and sirens. I had to take the car home, because we were leaving the next morning to Phoenix. I was driving one car, and the Police Chief was driving the other. We were to meet up in Marana, just north of Tucson, where the newly hired Chief lived, and drive together from there.
So the first thing I did was pull into the mobile home park and turn on the lights and siren as I got close to my “house,” and pulled into the driveway. The phone started to ring off the wall. All the neighbors wanted to make sure everything was okay. It was fun. We told them all different stories. It was a drug bust, I told Mel across the street. They found the stash he left in my shed and they were hauling me off to jail. “I told him it was your’s, but they don’t believe me. They’re coming over there next, so you better hide it.” It was fun. I learned later that his wife Mary flushed what little pot they had. Mel was pretty mad.
The next morning I took off on I-10 through downtown Tucson on the way to Marana. It’s a four lane section of interstate there, north and south, and I was purposely going 10 miles below the speed limit. The line of cars behind me was building. No one dared to pass. I had cars on my left and right, riding abreast in all lanes, trying to figure out if I was Tucson Police, South Tucson Police, Tribal Police, Marana Police or what. Behind me were rows and rows of cars. It was fun. Finally, someone decided I couldn’t pull them over if they were going the speed limit, so they sped up. Probably looked in the car as they passed and saw I wasn’t dressed like any police officer they had ever seen either. So just for the hell of it, I turned on the siren and lights and sped off after them then went around and ahead. It was fun. After that, I turned the lights and siren off and followed the directions to the Chief’s house.
It’s just fun to mess with people. I just heard about Alan Abel who might just be one of the greatest pranksters of all time. He started SINA, the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals. The slogan, “A nude horse is a rude horse.” He not only got the press to believe the ploy was real, but he would leave pamphlets stating that all animals should wear clothing, all over the place, in restrooms, in library books. During the Kevorkian assisted suicide period in the 1990s, he decided to start a cruise line for people who wanted to end it all. He called in “The Last Supper” cruise and only sold one way tickets. You should read up about him. His daughter, Jenny, did a documentary on her father called “Abel Raises Cain” in 2005.
My favorite “prank” was when I had to deliver a gallon of salsa to Dallas. It didn’t start out as a prank, but turned into one pretty quickly. I was working as a manager in a Citi-Bank collection region in Albuquerque, and one of my best friends was the back-end manager in the same capacity in Dallas. We decided to have a contest between the regions. If I won, my friend would deliver a gallon of the best BBQ sauce in Dallas, personally. If I lost, then I was to deliver, personally to his group, a gallon of salsa from the famous “Sadie’s” restaurant in Albuquerque. Reportedly the best salsa in the world, and the restaurant was in a bowling alley. Truth be told, I didn’t really want to win, because I wanted to fly to Dallas on the company’s dime for the weekend. I had a girlfriend there at the time. Delivering a gallon of salsa was just an understanding between us because he lived in Albuquerque for a time and worked in the collection office. He took a promotion to the Dallas region to get back to Texas where he was from, and he loved Sadie’s salsa. In short, he knew all about the girlfriend and the real reason for the contest.
So we got it written up, approved and broadcast all over the company, and the contest was on. I had to admit, the desire to win took over there towards the end, but it was too late and I ended up committed to deliver the gallon of salsa. Now, salsa needs to be kept cold. So I got one of those Styrofoam coolers, just a small one, put the dark red salsa enclosed in a clear plastic container into the cooler and filled it with ice. I was on the red-eye Southwest flight to Dallas and I couldn’t very well “check” the cooler, so I carried it on.
I was dressed like Don Johnson. I had the blue jeans, the T-shirt, the white blazer with the sleeves pushed up, and the shades hooked in the collar. Carrying the white cooler I boarded the plane. I tried to get the cooler under the seat in front of me but it wouldn’t go all the way. During the pre-flight check the steward says, “You can’t have that there. It has to fit under the seat or in the overhead bin.”
“I can’t let this out of my sight, ” I replied.
“What is it?” the male flight attendant asked.
“It’s a human heart,” I said without much thought. “I’m a surgeon and I have a transplant operation in Dallas in two hours. I can’t let this out of my sight,” and I lifted the lid exposing the red, blood-like substance, visible through the top of the container surrounded by ice.
The flight attendant scurried away to the front of the plane and I watched him down the aisle talking to the other two stewardesses, as he pointed toward me several times. After a few minutes he came back towards me down the aisle, stopping along the way to tell a passenger to put his seat back in the upright position.
“Okay,” he started, “what do you really have in there?”
I reiterated my story that I had to be in Dallas for a heart transplant operation in two hours. It was imperative that the organ in the cooler remain in my possession. I just couldn’t let it out of my sight. Maybe the Don Johnson outfit convinced him a little that I was possibly a heart surgeon. I don’t know, but he walked away again. I struggled to get the cooler farther under the seat.
I looked up and saw two stewardesses and the steward walking down the aisle toward me. I guess I figured the jig was up. I told them what was really in the cooler, and they admitted I had them going pretty good for a while. They promised to stow the cooler safely in the front and would return it to me when we deplaned, which they did. But it was fun…for a while.
I’ve had other fun times on Southwest. I’ll tell you about them some time.