Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Truancy

When I was in high school, leaving the grounds during our "free periods" wasn't allowed except in cases of permission acquired from the dean. This was usually facilitated by a note from the 'rents or a doctor's appointment, a special exemption from the dean, or being sent home by the school nurse. In no way, during our independent rebellions, were those the only viable reasons to leave grounds.

...we deemed [it] as a police state. Truancy and smoking were high crimes....



Smoking on school property was not allowed and if caught, meant that you were in detention or suspended from school. Leaving school grounds and getting caught also meant the same fate. And we weren't dealing with a bunch of idiots here. There were at least four deans cycling through school grounds, one head dean, and one retired police officer who drove around the parking lot in his car. I remember hearing a story about one particularly vigilant dean who actually surprised some student smokers by climbing down out of a tree to bust them.

In CT, the driving age at this point was 16, and living in a particularly affluent area allowed most students, if not all, to have either their own cars or their parents cars in the school parking lot. However, we were schooled in an environment that we deemed as a police state. Truancy and smoking were high crimes, and the only tactic we had to retaliate was to band together and develop our own little organized crime circuit.

The Talent


Having such an expansive population of resources (about 1,000 students in hour HS) meant that many fractured cells weren't pooling their resources properly. Like many organized crime rings, we had fractured, autonomous cells of people, disorganized and ineffectual in their methodology. Identifying these sources was the first thing that needed to be accomplished.

The Informants: They were easily found in the population, the ones who collected and delivered information about busts and locations/destinations of deans. These were invaluable, yet constantly morphing faces that were essential in the planning stage of any operation.

The Scouts: These were people much like the informants, but chosen to actually go out and report back information of the RC (retired cop) and the deans. Often, these people were particularly good at blending into the background.

The "Old Timers": Not that any of them were old, per say, but they had experience in escape times and methods. Most of them had little pertinent advice, but sometimes gold could be found in their stories.

The LaunderersThese were the people who used the system to beat the system. Generally, they were the people with notes or exceptions, who had skipped school that day, or who were particularly good at "signature imagery".

The Don

I don't know exactly when it started to happen, but I got to be the "Don" of these operations. Maybe it was because I was a huge rebel, or maybe some of my solo escapes gave me credibility, but I went from a "made" man to the Don in very little time. I think most of it came from I knew who to talk to, who to plan with, and when to pull it off. My cohorts were particularly talented, and people would often come to us to help them get off campus. I also had a pager and the public phones allowed for even more organization.

I remember many times, sitting down with at least three people and strategizing or escape strategy, waiting for reports and fielding ideas from my council. Sometimes it would be quick and easy, like pulling aside one of my favorite signature consultants and saying, "I need out at 11 am, can you get me a note in an hour?" Like clockwork, it would be done.

Perhaps what I really was known for was my creativity. Stories that got around that often got me pats on the back or even big laughs. I was a mini-celeb in high school, and it was all because I bucked the system any time I could.

Classic

Perhaps my greatest coup involved two of my good buddies. One was my best lookout (codename: Hawk, and one was my ballsiest henchman (codename: Phoenix). He, much like me, got a thrill out of sticking it to the man, but his sometimes ran on the criminal side in real life too. But I knew he could be counted on to pull off the brashest and most unreasonable of my requests, and I had a good plan. I pulled them aside, and pulled out a camera.

"Here's what we're gonna do guys. This takes guts, so I'm gonna need your abilities, Phoenix."

"Oh yeah? This oughta be good."

Hawk took the high road. I had parked my car up on the hill, and this was an important vantage point to see our caper pulled off, as well as checking for the all clear. Phoenix was in charge of the diversionary tactic, a clever and ultimately humiliating one as it were. I was running support for Phoenix in the tactic, as there was no way I wasn't going to be hands on for this one. I had a pad of paper, and Phoenix, the camera.

"RC, we're from the school paper. We were planning on writing an article about you, and were wondering if we could ask a few questions," Phoenix said.

"Sure, boys, it'd be my pleasure."

"How long have you worked here?" I asked, waiting with pen on pad.

"10 years."

"Do you enjoy your job?" I asked as I pretended to write down his answers. I was completely winging my questions at this point.

"Absolutely. It's good to keep the peace on school grounds."

"Have you ever taken a sick day?" I asked, recognizing that I was not doing well on my feet and needed help very soon.

"Just a few. I tend to stay pretty healthy. I exercise a lot." Weird. The dude was completely out of shape. I panicked, and looked at Phoenix for help, but he was missing the cue. I checked my watch in a last ditch effort.

"Phoenix, we have to get back to class soon. Can you finish up?" I asked.

"Sure," he said. "RC, could you pose for a few photos for the school paper?"

"I'd be happy to," RC said.

Phoenix then proceeded to take a few snaps, and even got RC to do a really pathetic looking pose on the hood of his car. RC was all smiles and pride as we said or thanks and waited for him to leave. He got in his car and slowly began to drive away. I signaled to Hawk and he pulled the car down the hill and jumped into the passenger seat. He also opened the back door.

I was ahead of Phoenix, as he was holding his cool and taking snaps of RC leaving. I started to laugh my ass off and decided to run. I was behind the wheel, and we were yelling at Phoenix.

"DUDE, it's TIME TO GO!"

He made a mad dash across the lot and jumped head first in the back. We didn't even close the door, but the momentum of the car taking off did that job for us. With glee, we were off campus, and on our way down the road. I looked in the mirror and saw a man proud of his cunning and the effectiveness of the plan.

"Phoenix," I said, "is there film in the camera?"

"No, but man, that would have been some funny shit to have those later."

"Phoenix, that only happens once in a lifetime man," I said.

"I know, but he was posing on the hood of his car!"

"Chalk it up to learning, man. Who says we don't get an education at school."

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