Busted for a phone prank

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From back when I was about 18.

TV's Officer Funk had said to look both ways before crossing the street; I always did so. It wasn't so much being safe as doing the right thing. So I checked the street with deliberation only a na´ve and priggish child could.

Victor, who I met when I was ten was the first person I knew who shoplifted. His family lived on lima beans, ice milk* and charity. Victor had a sharp, unashamed sense of class warfare. No surprise that he eventually became a Marxist. I was pretty shocked and even mentioned his stealing to my parents. Fear or maybe conditioning kept me from stealing but not from being Victor's passive accomplice a couple of times.

Savannah's economy and population were shrinking as I grew up. Dropping out of college after a couple of quarters I suddenly found myself needing a job. A large slice of the available jobs could only be had through employment agencies. Employers pay for white-collar workers. But if you are searching down at the minimum wage level you pay the agency a percentage of your first few months' salary.

John needed a job himself so we made the rounds of employment agencies. One place required a $5.00 fee for signing up. We paid it and filled out the applications. It was a one person shop and after a while John and I decided the woman who ran it made some of her money by collecting fees from people she never intended to help.

In revenge we started playing phone pranks on her. I don't remember much of what we did. We must've asked the usual stupid questions, had taxis and pizza deliverymen drop by. I do remember we regarded her with special malignancy. Which is probably why I went what would prove to be too far. Companies were much more trusting thirty years ago. I didn't have to do more than dial the phone to cut off her water, gas, electricity and telephone.

We'd planned to not call her from anywhere other than a payphone in the future. But John couldn't resist and rang her up a day or two later. After the call we couldn't disconnect, our phone line had been 'locked.' My parents' line. We fled.

My mother knew I'd be at Victor's. She called to tell me that the police had arrested my father.

*Ice milk was made from milk from which the fat had been extracted. It was very cheap. Later it was reborn as fat free ice cream. The change in name was accompanied by an increase in price.

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that’s sooo cool!

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Richard

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