Monday, March 14, 2005

Sick and Stressed

I want to apologize to everyone for not posting in almost a week. Last week was a very bad week for me. I spent most of the week dealing with a stomach bug. It was pretty bad -- but I did get to spend some of that time watching a lot of Freaks and Geeks, so I guess it wasn't all bad.

I don't usually post about personal things, but there's this one thing that's got me so stressed right now, I can barely think of anything else. So, I figured I'd try and write about it -- get it out a little.

In order to explain this, I have to give a bit of background history. This means going back 15 years.

In the summer of 1990, when I was 19, I took a job basically doing telemarketing work (setting up appointments with people for our "salespeople" to do a pitch). It was shitty work -- in fact, while everything was perfectly legal, I knew it was all just barely so. But I was making good money and good friends and I was having a lot of fun. I went out drinking and to concerts with my coworkers and boss (one time we even went to see Danzig, after which I ended up on the tour bus and going to breakfast at Perkins with the band -- and no, I didn't fuck them, get your head out of the gutter).

About 6 months later, the parent company decided to close that office and move us to Massachusetts. Not everyone went, but a small group of my closest friends did go. We moved to a small town on the border of New Hampshire and all lived together in a small one bedroom apartment across the street from the office.

At first, it was pretty hard. We were just starting the office, so we had no money. But I didn't care -- I was happy. You have to understand, these people I was living and working with had become my family. Most of my life has been spent seeking a place to "belong" -- a place I felt was "home," where I belonged and was valued and needed and, most important, wanted. I had only really had this feeling one other time in my life, and believe me, that (in retrospect) was a much worse group of people (very long story). To this day, I have yet to find that sort of closeness again. Perhaps it's something that just never really happens, at least, not in healthy relationships. Perhaps it's just something I haven't been able to find. But I felt all of that with this group of people. I loved them, and they loved me (or so I believed).

Well, as I said, it was a hard time at the beginning. And one night, about 3 weeks after moving up there and after not having eaten in several days, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner. Of course, with no money, that meant planning to do a "dine and dash." Well, we did that, but it didn't work out as planned. Instead, we ended up spending the night in jail in a small New Hampshire town.

When the day came for us to appear in court, only 2 of the 4 of us originally arrested were in town. So, the 2 of us showed up, and the judge postponed the court date for a time when all 4 of us would be there. But during that court date, the judge made mention of the possibility of paying back the restaurant and seeing if they'd drop the charges.

A week later, my boss told me that's exactly what happened. And I believed him. Now, you may be wondering why the hell I'd believe him, and not, at the very least, check up on that. But, you have to understand, this guy was my best friend, I loved him dearly. And, keep in mind, I was young and naive -- after all, this is the same guy who talked me into buying a car in my name, promising me that the company would make all the payments, only to have to do a "voluntary reposession" of that car 4 months later (not one payment was made) and then help a P.I. find said boss when he disappeared with the car. But I didn't know all this then. I still thought this was a great guy. And yeah, in retrospect, I should have checked up on all this after the whole car thing, but by that time I had moved back to New York and forgotten all about it.

Over the next several years, I completely forgot about the entire incident in New Hampshire. About 7 years after all this happened, I discovered that there was a possibility my name was not cleared. I found out when talking to one of the men I had been arrested with (not the boss-guy, a different one who I had stayed friends with over the years). He had moved to Nevada and tried to transfer his license. That's when he discovered that there was still an open warrant out for him in New Hampshire.

At the time, I was a (very) poor college student, I couldn't afford to go to New Hampshire and try to fix any of this. Besides, I had never had any problems. And I did one of those internet "background checks" on myself and it came back with a clean record. I thought that maybe when M had taken care of his thing, it took care of it all. Or maybe, because it was because M hadn't shown up at the first court date, that was what was causing his problems. Since I had shown up, I was OK. Yeah, stupid, naive, but I really wanted to believe that.

But, I suppose a part of me always thought that this was possibly all still hanging over my head. But I didn't know for sure until last summer. Last summer, I tried to transfer my license to Oregon and discovered that I was having the same problems M did in Nevada. I had a friend of mine call the Salem, NH police department and, sure enough, there is a bench warrant for me. It's so old, it's not even on the computer -- they had to go to the basement and check the card files, but sure enough, it was there. My friend was told that I would have to return to NH to take care of it -- which I couldn't afford to do. The clerk told my friend that perhaps I could talk to an attorney here and see if it could be worked out.

So, I did that. I talked to a friend of mine here who is an attorney (although, does not usually handle these sorts of cases). He wasn't able to find out anything, and was unable to talk to the prosecuter (who simply told him that he refused to talk to anyone about the matter until I showed up in NH).

Well, my NY state driver's license was about to expire, and I knew I had to do something. So, I called the NH Department of Transportation (which turns out to be quite difficult in itself -- as it's just one woman answering 2 lines -- what kind of backwards state is this?!). I got the "docket number" and the number for the Salem District Court. Sure enough, there it is. And the only way to take care of this is to turn myself into the Salem police and go to court and pay the fine (minimum $530) and hope that they won't give me any jail time.

She suggested writing to the prosecuter and try to work out a deal where I agree to turn myself in, plead guilty, and pay the fine in return for setting a court date on the same day and not being sentenced to any jail time.

I have done that, and I am waiting for a response. This is not something that's going to be easy, in anyway. I will have to come up with plane fare, and then figure out how to get to Salem (I'll have to fly to Manchester or Boston -- and I can't rent a car, as my driver's license is now expired, so I guess I'll have to take a bus). Then I'll have to come up with the fine -- which is, as I said, a minimum of $530 (the prosecuter could decide to fine me more). I will also have to take time off of work to do all this.

I really want to take care of all this -- but I'm freaking right the fuck out about all of it.


blue said...

Wow, Bean, that sounds immensely stressful. I only hope Evil Boss Man's life has been messed up more than yours for misleading you way back then. I'm sorry this is so complex and ominous for you. Damn.

ms. jared said...

i'm so, so sorry to hear that, bean. i know how stressful that kind of stuff can be especially when coupled with financial strain.

i had something similar but not quite as severe happen to me when i was in college but i lucked out and got off on a technicality. the officer wrote the wrong date on my ticket which happened to be after my court date so the judge threw the whole thing out and i was free to go.

i'll send some positive vibes into the universe for you so that you might get off as easily. sometimes it is just luck...

xoxo, jared

Tishie said...

Oh my gosh! I remember you telling me about that, but I cannot believe you have to actually GO THERE! That is terrible.

I really hope they take pity on you and somehow make it easier.

Also, I hope you are feeling better.

Pseudo-Adrienne said...

Best wishes for your speedy recovery, Bean :-)

thistle said...

Bean, that sucks :( If you do end up coming through Boston and there's anything that I can do to help you, let me know.

Trish said...

Fly to Manchester. It's very close to Salem, NH. You'll get to Salem in no time. Boston (Logan Airport) will be much too far. It will take you at least an hour to get to Salem, not counting Boston's horrid traffic. Also, can you fly Southwest? That's one of the cheapest airlines, and it flies into Manchester, but not Logan.

I live in Cape Ann, Mass. It would take me about two hours to drive to Salem, NH. If you need a place to stay before you fly back home, e-mail me and let me know. You can stay at my house before you return home if you need to stay anywhere.

I'm so sorry this happened to you. It sounds like quite a mess.

bean said...

Thanks everyone for your comments and support. And thanks, Trish, for the advice. So far it looks like flying into Boston will be cheaper -- depending on how much advance notice I have. Although, it's good to know about Southwest -- if I have enough notice, that may end up being cheaper.

If I do end up flying through Boston, I'll definitely let you know.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about what's going on, bean.

Yeah, once a warrant is out, it stays out and most people don't know until they try to do the DMV license thing and can't. Or they get pulled over by a cop and get arrested, like happened with my brother-in-law who had a FTA over a traffic citation. Or they find out by then, not so funny)

A lot of people face this and come to court from different places in the country so judges are quite used to it and unless it's really serious, they're not that harsh on old cases. They seem more than willing to basically close the book on them.

Don't blame yourself for not checking it out. You trusted someone who let you down. That's his bad.

I think you'll probably looking at a fine, probably not higher than the minimum, maybe even less b/c courts are big on punishment and restitution and all that. I'd be surprised if the prosecutor wants to push it really hard. It'll probably be someone who's starting out and will have a huge case load, since it's probably a misdemeanor.

good luck. Keep us posted if you want to. You'll get through it all right, not that court stuff isn't a major hassle and scary to boot though. But you speak for yousrself very well and clearly and that will help you with this.


Anonymous said...

Oh for god's sake, Bean, it's stories like yours that make my blood boil: authorities complaining that there "aren't enough policeman on the streets" and there's no money for whatever social good, but hell, they've got the time to fuck up someone's life over a freaking Dine'n'Dash. And the fact that they're still willing to go after you for something you did ages ago when you were still quite young would be unbelievable if I hadn't heard of similarly petty stories before.

I so that someone in New Hampshire shows some common sense and this works out well for you.

Until you get some news, I'd like to offer you my best wishes.

Crys T

Victoria said...

This sucks on so many levels. WHy the fuck can't the justice system get with the modern age. All you really have to do is pay the freaking fine.

Hell, my exhusband managed to get all the way through a DUI conviction without appearing in court. Of course that's Canada.

I'm feeling for you and sending you "speedy resolution" vibes.


Gosling said...

So sorry to read this, bean. If I were you I'd at least try to reach the public defender's office back there (if there is one; if not, the court can refer you to private lawyers they appoint to handle indigent cases). They might be willing to give you free legal advice and/or appear in court on your behalf. For the price of a phone call, you could possibly learn you have other options?

Try these: Manchester Public Defender Program: 603-669-7888; Nashua Public Defender Program: 603-598-4986; NH Bar Assn.: 603-224-6942. Keep in mind these folks are all overworked, so you'll probably have to call more than once and be pushy -- er, assertive. The odds are good that some lawyer in NH has encountered the very same situation and could even be willing to help. And they'll know local court customs and NH law, unlike your very helpful lawyer friend. Good luck.


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