(more or less as sent on June 20, 2002)
Hey all! I know that it has been a long time for some of you, but I wanted to fill you in on some stuff with me. First of all, I've moved! I'm leasing a nice house with Brad Triden, Dan Morris, and Allan Watson (all from Case) in the Metro Detroit area. My new contact info is:
Nathan G. Barhorst
email (same): email@example.com
I apologize for the lack of personal email to you all, but I promise, this letter will make up for it, at least a little.
So here's a little story of a recent little excitement in my life. I don't have the gift of words that some of you literary types have (Hi Amanda!), so you'll just have to bear with me.
So, I travel a lot. No, really, I travel a LOT. I spent the last three months in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, which is about an hour south of Louisville. Usually, I'd work for two weeks, and the company would fly me home every other weekend.
Perhaps I should tell you all a little about my job. Basically, at the time, I was in charge on nights of the motion transfers on an assembly line that makes the frames for the new Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. It's a pretty big line, and they can't really afford to be down for very long (they think five minutes is way too long). Which is why I was sitting there on second shift. To perform this brain numbing job, I require a few tools. These tools include items such as a computer (to program the assembly lines), an assortment of screwdrivers (to change wiring, open control panels, etc), and a few other miscellaneous items, such as a pocket knife, writing utensils, and a nice, thick novel to keep my mind busy.
Bored yet? Hang it there. I haven't even started, and we're just getting to the interesting stuff.
So, I'm at the airport, suitcase is checked, and I'm carrying on my computer bag. I don't know about you, but I don't exactly trust those baggage handlers to be gentle with my two thousand dollar piece of equipment. I go through security (same thing I've done a dozen times already this year). Want to search my bag? OK. No problems. "Sorry sir. Just have to check more people since 9/11." Uh huh. Yeah. Whatever. Let me get on my plane.
I go to the gate, and hang around for half an hour. The plane's previous passengers get off, and the cleaning crew goes in with the new flight crew. I look around. Same old stuff: airport attendants, lots of tired passengers waiting to get on, some security (including some national guard) walking around, and some guys in white shirts with burgundy vests standing behind a table off to the side. They are there for the pseudo-random searches that are performed to make sure that the people at the security check aren't missing anything.
Finally, they start boarding the plane. People that need assistance first, then first class, then the rear of the plane. Finally, my section is called. I go to turn in my boarding pass. "Sir, could you please step over there for a random check?" Uh huh. Yeah. Whatever. Let me get on my plane.
I step over to one of the vested guys, and one guy starts going through my computer bag, while the other ones goes over me with one of those metal detecting wands. And I have to take my shoes off. I'm going to deck that idiot that made me do this by trying to sneak plastic explosives on a plane in his shoe soles. OK, put my shoes back on. Go back over to the guy going through my bag. Oh, crap. I forgot to take my tools out. Oh, well. It's only a couple of screwdrivers. I'll just have to buy some more later.
You see, I've gone through this whole process once or twice, and I've forgotten the screwdrivers in my bag before; they usually just throw them away.
And out comes my pocket knife.
That's when they freaked.
Vest boy calls over security, the other guy goes over immediately to talk to the flight attendant checking boarding passes and she gets on the phone.
Vest boy *cautiously* approaches me. "Sir," (you know this isn't going to be good...) "I'm affraid that we're going to have to have you wait for a little bit. We found these items in your bag. Do you know what these are?" Duh. "Would you mind stepping over here until security comes?" What would you do if I said "Hell yeah I mind!"?
So I step aside, and wait while the rest of the plane boards. (Little known to me, but my supervisor for this job, a man that I'd met once months before, was getting on the plane at the same time. Doh!) Some airport white-shirt supervisor comes over, and explains the situation to me. "Can't bring on a knife on a plane." No problem. Throw it away. "Not that easy, sir. We're going to have to wait for security." Fine. Am I going to miss my plane? "Yes. Your bags have already been pulled." That's just great. Are you going to re-book my flight? "That depends on what security says."
I can tell this is going to be a great day.
Security finally gets there and talks to all the other people, then talks to me.
"Is this your knife?" No, it's my baby elephant Bombo's knife. "You do realize that you have committed a felony, don't you?"
WAIT A SECOND! BACK THOSE LITTLE PONIES UP!
"I'm sorry, could you repeat that?"
"It's a felony to attempt to bring a weapon aboard the airplane. It would have been a misdemeanor if you had been caught at the security check."
"But it's just... Never mind. Throw it away."
"I'm going to have to keep it for evidence. Would you mind sitting over here?"
So I go back over to the seats, which are empty now, especially since as I'm sitting down, my plane is pulling away. I didn't really like that specific plane anyway. The left wing needed to be washed.
Apparently there was a big discussion about how big the blade was (2.5 inches). They even pulled out a freakin' measuring tape.
Mr. Security sits down, asks me some questions about why I have it, where I'm going, and then starts taking all my info. SS#, address, place of employment, etc. Mr. Security #2 comes along, and asks me to come over to the boarding desk, where he promptly pulls out a fingerprint pad and sheet of paper. Finger painting time!
After Mr. Fingerprint Security Dude takes my fingerprints, I sit back down. I overhear Mr. Security talking on the radio, giving all my information, and asking if there are any outstanding warrants, etc. Nope, just a speeding ticket. After some more discussion, the Security guy loosens up a bit, and starts talking to me about what will happen. Because he doesn't consider me a threat, they are going to re-book my flight for the next one (which is in two hours). I should receive something in the mail from the Criminal court within two weeks, if not call such and such number. OK. Usually, they throw cases like this out, especially since I have no record. Great to hear.
So, long story short (ok, maybe not so short), I call the guy I'm working with in Kentucky and let him know that I'm going to be late. I wait around a few hours, and get on the next plane.
Fast forward a little bit. I tell this story to a couple of people, almost all agree it was an unfortunate but humorous ordeal. It wasn't until I talked to my boss (my real boss in Detroit, not my supervisor in Kentucky) that it started to finally sink in. A felony. On my permanent record. OK, this is going to suck.
At the urging of my Boss, his Boss (aka the president of the company), and a few others, I sought out legal representation. After some frantic looking around, I found a lawyer that didn't sound like he was going to drag this out as long as possible, but still keep it off my record. He ended up wavering my arraignment (my understanding is that they just tell me what the charges are and find out how I pleaded, no real decisions) and scheduling my pre-trial.
OK, I just have to take this time right now to say that you lawyers out there are making (or will be making when you graduate) way too much money.
I find out before the arraignment date that somewhere along the line, the felony got downgraded to a misdemeanor. That's better, but still not great.
Fast forward a little more to the pre-trial.
I talk to my lawyer over the phone, find out what will occur, etc. I get a call later that afternoon (day before the pre-trial) from his assistant saying that the pre-trial has been postponed to 10:15am (it was 9:00am).
Next day, I'm in my suit, at the courthouse, surrounded by other people. 95% of which are not in suits. A little nervous now, I begin to wonder if perhaps I have over-dressed. I mean, what if they think that I'm trying to suck up to them so that I'm trying to keep this stupid thing off my permanent record which would be damaging to my entire future?
Oh, wait, I am trying to suck up to them. More than that punk kid with the mohawk over there. Slacker.
10:15 comes and they call my name. One little problem. No lawyer. I go over to the guy calling my name (I find out a little later that he is the prosecutor) and tell him that my attorney isn't there yet. "No problem" he says. "I'll just put your name at the bottom and come back to you a little later." Groovy. I call my attorney's office. The assistant says that she just talked to him on his cell phone and he's on his way.
10:30: "Is he here yet?" Nope. "OK."
10:45: "Is he here yet?" Nope. Thinking on the prosecutor's face. Who, by the way, is someone different than the original prosecutor that I had, since he apparently had too many cases. "Why don't you come in here anyway." Sure.
"You can wait for your attorney to get here if you want..." Yeah, I really don't know what exactly is going on... "...but I'm just going to dismiss this case." Woohooo! "You can contest this if you want, or wait for your lawyer if you choose." Screw my attorney! Where do I sign!?!?!
Nice, Wonderful Prosecutor Lady explains that they have re-evaluated the criteria for the offense, and as long as I didn't have any criminal record, I fell into the re-defined area. Sign here under "Dismissal", and wait for the judge to call your name.
Oh, by the way, still no attorney.
I wait in the courtroom. Probably another ten minutes go by, then the judge calls my name.
Just as I get up to approach the bench/stand/whatever you call it, a lawyer-looking guy comes into the courtroom. He leans over to the bailiff and says in a hushed tone "Has Nathan Barhorst gone yet?" Impeccable timing.
Now, I had never met my attorney face-to-face, but I was pretty sure it was him from the moment he walked in the door. He met me at the bench, and we shook hands. The judge smiles. She knows what's going on. She asks if we want a minute to talk. We both say "That's all right." Blah blah blah, case dismissed.
Found out that my tardy Lawyer talked to the prosecutor already and knew about the dismissal. We talked money, I'm getting 90% of my retainer (legal deposit) back, nice to meet you, blah blah blah, and I was a free man, going to Buffalo to slave away for my job.
So that's the nuts and bolts of my exciting story. The moral? Um, don't carry sharp objects onto a plane. Oh, and mechanical pencils are still all right, just don't threaten the security guys with one. They don't think it's very funny.
Well, it's getting late, and I should go to work tomorrow.
Miss you all.
Moved. New contact info (see beginning or sig file below).
Don't carry weapons on board an airplane.
Lawyers are making more than me.
OK, I'm starting to ramble.
Hope you all enjoyed my story. All dialogs are true until contested by the original speaker.