I often wonder what puts people on their particular path in life. Some people find themselves on yachts, some in suburban houses, some in the ghetto and a one or two in jail. How do they get there?
In the case of my two brothers, what took them to a stint in jail was a bus.
That’s right — that bus…the one that took us to our summer picnic. But who would know? Certainly not my grandmother — the actual instigator of the crime. I guess you could blame my brothers’ s flawed logic and my mother’s not quite legal explanation. But more on that a bit later.
Earlier in the day of our annual picnic, the rented bus broke down. Everyone was disappointed. My grandmother pulled my two brothers aside and told them to go and see about getting another bus.
So off Tony and Carmen went to the bus company. When they got there was only one bus left, a brand new one that would cost an additional $100.00 minus the $25.00 rental fee already paid the day before. There was no negotiating with the manager, he refused to budge. And as it was mid-day Saturday and closing time – he dismissed the boys with a jerk of his head, “Get outta here. And don’t come back until you have some money.”
Unwilling to disappoint their grandmother, and calling upon their finely honed skills with cars, they jump-started the bus and drove it to the schoolyard. In their minds, they’d borrow it for a few hours and have it back in the parking lot before anyone knew it was gone. Besides, they had the broken bus as collateral.
Naturally everyone was impressed when they rolled into the parking lot in a brand new bus. My grandmother was so proud and my mother was astonished. And off we all went.
A few hours later, the local police show up at the fairgrounds looking for the “bus drivers”. They had an appointment with the judge and jail.
My grandmother, who was sure this was all a mistake, explained patiently to the officer in her broken English, “Ma, No! No steal. Borrow the bus. They good boys!”
“No m’am, they took it.”
My mother stepped in, “But we thought it was an even exchange with the broken bus.”
“That’s not how the owner sees it.”
So off we all went down to the courthouse, with my brothers in handcuffs and a collection of loose change from the neighbors to help spring the boys from jail.
And that’s how they ended up in jail…I guess you could say, the bus stops here, I told my mother when we arrived at the courthouse. She was not amused.
That little episode didn’t alter my mother’s steadfast love and support for my brothers one iota. In fact, she was a rock of love and solidarity. Qualities all mothers possess.