This time of year stirs up so many cherished memories. One of my favorites features a dear friend of mine. She and I met 10 years ago working the graveyard shift together at a semi-famous (which seems like an exaggeration, but it's not) convenience store near my home. This gal instantly became an inspiration in my life.
One of the first things I learned about her is that she grew up near Anaheim, CA coming of age in the '70s. By the mid-1980s she was divorced with two little ones and joining AA to get sober. She went through two more divorces and moved to Utah. By the time I met her she was single, happy, and leaping from one adventure to the next with no safety net and without looking.
She's always maintained that she's not going to let anyone ruin her party. So far, so good!
At the time the graveyard shift was a necessity for me but was a choice for her. There never was a dull moment and things I cling to now as wisdom was learned from her during this time. Many nights were filled with laughter (at least mine). She was propositioned 10 times a shift (something about her uniform said "hit on me please") which was highly entertaining.
The same month I started my job there the local government incorporated and became a city complete with their own new police force. Prior to this, the location was watched over by the local Sheriff's department. We adored the Sheriffs and spent a lot of time swapping stories of middle of the night encounters with crazies. The local police were in and out, fairly distant, but they were new to the area.
One Tuesday night the bar next door had college night, as was their tradition. We called them Tuesday night fight night because the young men would get drunk then come over to our store to fight it out. The Sheriffs had kept the peace there for years hanging out or stopping by randomly on Tuesdays between 11pm-2am. Since the local police had taken over the Sheriffs no longer had jurisdiction and didn't make it a priority if something else needed their attention.
Left alone on this particular Tuesday a fight broke out and my friend, thinking she was doing the appropriate thing, called the local police to help her out. The guys were busting up the store. The police informed her that because it was private property they could not help her. That if she needed protection on Tuesday nights that the store should hire a security guard. Well. Those were famous last words. My friend was always a firm believer in "what's good for the goose is good for the gander". She was determined to give the police a dose of their own medicine.
The next shift she worked a local police officer came in. She informed them that this was private property and they were not welcome on the premises. The officer laughed and she said "Hey buddy, do I look like I'm joking? You need to leave." Baffled the officer left without their free soda.
During the day they stopped by and spoke to the owner. The owner pulled my friend aside and pleaded with her to let it go. My friend refused.
The standoff had begun. My friend was also becoming paranoid that they were going to pull her over for anything they could find on her way in or away from work. The local police knew they were not allowed in the store while she was working. The Sheriffs got a huge kick out of the whole thing. They'd tease the local police about it waving to them parked in a vacant lot across the street.
One night 18 Sheriffs came pouring into the store for a late night powwow. Trailing in was one of our closest Sheriff allies accompanied by a very tall very young looking local cop. My friends was behind the counter and lept across it to the in that officers face with finger pointed agressively an inch from his nose she yelled, "Hey! You're 86'd. You're not allowed in here buddy!" The Sheriffs deputy laughted and said "Come on he's with us, it's okay," and she said "No way!" and she made the officer leave.
Her strength and conviction to be true to herself has been a source of constant light to all who know her. Happy Birthday!! We love you!