Bonus story time this week! Why? Because I'm not going to jail, which is as good a reason as any to celebrate (really this is me just putting off retroblogging for another day). Read on.

So its the day before I'm due to fly to South Africa for the first time. Its a warm Saturday in August, and I say goodbye to the folks and drive off with my brother Jonny on our way to San Francisco. I was flying out of SFO for a variety of reasons, the primary one being that Peter, Jonny, and I were headed to the Rock The Bells concert at McCovey Cove to see Rage Against the Machine back together for one of their 4 reunion shows. Which, of course, was one of the best nights of my life. But this story isn't about that night, its about what happened the afternoon before that night.

Jonny and I stopped to shop for a suit for him on our way down to Peter's place outside of SF. Its weird for me, knowing as much as I do about those suits, being able to tell where the fabric came from and what country the factory that put it together was in, and the name and phone number of the rep at RL who sold it to Macy's, and the crusty old buyer who was responsible for getting it to that store, at that price point, on that day. Etc. etc. etc.. So there I was musing through all of that while Jonny paid for the suit we picked out, when my phone rings.

Its dad. He says the mail came, and there's something for me in it. He says its from New Orleans and it looks official, and he asks if I want him to open it. He opens it and says the first two words that were printed in large block across the top of the page:


Something about not having appeared for a court date that I knew I had never gotten notice about. Apparently I'm a wanted man in New Orleans, LA, and I'm supposed to get on a plane leaving the states for a few months the next morning. Whoops. Cue a few frantic phone calls.

Here's the funny thing, though. That letter arrived one year to-the-day that I had first flown down to NOLA with the youth group for our first missions trip there - gutting houses in the horribly wet and hot and oppressive August air there. Whilst there, we had been out to dinner one evening in the French Quarter. After dinner I went to get the van I was driving to pick up my crew. I pull up to one of the one-way cross streets and the guy on the cross street flashses his lights, and sits there. He has the right of way but I figure he's telling me to go ahead, cause he's not moving. So I go, and about halfway through the intersection is when I hear the sickening thud of his bumper into the side of my rental van.

That was not a pleasant evening. The cop chick who wrote up the incident was very sympathetic to the fact that I was livid about being the victim of blatant insurance fraud, but there was nothing she could do.

The church we were working with down there, however, had a guy who was in charge of our work who said that he knew a judge and would get it "taken care of." Since I never saw anything in the mail, and nobody ever returned my follow-up calls, I assumed it had been taken care of. The legal system down there still appeared to be in relative shambles, anyway - we had one run-in with Military Police in a humvee rather than normal cops, at one point (another story for another time).

So yeah. There I am a year later on my way down to SF trying to get a hold of the youth leaders, who, providentially, were headed down to NOLA again for our second trip down there, one year later, to-the-day. I didn't get a hold of them, but my voicemails must have gotten through, because Russ, one of the other youth leaders, who happens to be a lawyer, went to court and got me sorted out. Apparently Dave had to go with him, because later that day when Dave got back to the work site, he wasn't wearing his boots and he stepped on a nail and had to go to the hospital. Dave still blames me, indirectly, for that nail incident, which is guilt I can live with if it gets me out of jail.

So anyway there was some back and forth with paperwork and emails in the months since I've left the states, and then the other day dad emails me a scan of a fax they got at home, which isn't very clear, but is clear enough to see that I got a dismissal from a court case of some sort in NOLA. So, assuming I'm not wanted for something else down there, I think I'm in the clear.

So that means I'm still a wanted man only in Virginia, and perhaps Florida, to my knowledge. And those are stories for another time, as well.

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