Let me start by saying that I am (now) a law-abiding citizen. I would never even think of stealing so much as a grape from the grocery store, and never let my kids eat anything while shopping until it was paid for.
That being said, I was sitting in my dining room this morning and happened to glance at this old wooden courthouse bench. I love this bench. It has a story (well, probably many stories) to tell. Here is mine.
My dad worked in the circuit attorney's office for years. If you mentioned anyone's name or wanted to find something he knew who they were and where to get what you wanted.
One day I mentioned that I would like a wooden bench for my dining room to sit beneath a large window. He knew where they had some old benches stored from a remodel at the city courthouse. He called me the following Monday and told me that it was okay to come downtown and pick up one of the benches. He had gotten permission to take one and all I had to do was to pick it up. I loaded up my three little kids in my big conversion van and drove downtown to get that bench. Was I ever excited! I arrived a little past noon and drove around the three city blocks that surrounded the courthouse. No parking spots were available where my dad told me to meet him.
Finally I spotted an opening and managed to parallel park my big van close to the spot I was told. I got the kids out and went up to my dad's office. After a short visit with his co-workers we went to the storage room and carried the bench to the freight elevator and started outside with it, kids following behind. Since I was the one walking backwards, my dad spotted the fiasco before me, but Joey said "The police are at our van!" My dad put the bench down and started over to them, sternly asking me as he walked by "Didn't you see the sign there that says "Parking for Judges Only"? CRAP! I had blocked the entrance to the judges underground garage entrance AND had a courthouse bench in my hands. CRAP! Did my dad really have permission to take this bench? Would I be accused of stealing city property? Was I going to go to jail? What would they do with my little kids? CRAP! And was my dad ever mad at me for parking there! That was the worst part. I didn't like it when my dad was mad, especially at me.
I told the kids to sit on the bench and I ran over with my keys. By that time my dad had the policeman putting his ticket book away, the tow call was cancelled and the judge who was blocked reached out his hand to me, joked about being late for court and waved to my kids.
I looked at my dad, who told me to get in the van with the kids while a couple of police officers loaded the bench into my vehicle.
Whew! I was free to go. That was a close call, or so I thought. When I got home he called to see if we made it okay and told me he'd be by after work to help me get the bench in the house.
Good. He wasn't mad at me.
Anyway, I thought of that when I was looking at my bench today. I do smile about it now when I think of that day. Oh, yeah, and I always pay attention to where I park whenever I am near a courthouse.