My life as a fugitive was very brief
I had my legal defense already planned.
“It was my first offense, officer. I swear.”
That’s what I would have said to the police when they came knocking at my door to haul me in.
I knew I was guilty, but hoped for leniency.
What did I do you ask? Have you ever heard of the term “dine and dash?” Well, earlier this month, I had a lunch meeting at a local restaurant. Our meeting was busy and filled with much discussion. I ordered lunch and ate it while the meeting continued. Soon it was well after the lunch hour and I rushed back to work.
At about 6 p.m. on my way home from work, I noticed our waitress from that day who happened to be in the car that passed by me on the street.
Suddenly, it dawned on me. My face got hot. My heart began to race. I had forgotten to pay for my lunch that day. I’m a fugitive from the law.
I’ve never done that before-intentionally or unintentionally. I know people who have done it to get away without paying for their lunch. We call those people thieves and the thought of be being one of “those people” was simply terrible.
Wikipedia defines dine and dash (also referred to as “dine and ditch” or “running the check”) as a form of theft, more specifically a form of fraud, in which a patron eats at a restaurant and then leaves without paying.
A quick search on the Internet generates several choices for information on the practice. There’s even a site where you can go to get tips on how to do it. Oh sure, maybe some people have done it once on a fraternity dare and wonder what’s the harm, but it’s theft any way you look at it and the cops will not accept excuses.
I’m not a criminal, I just forgot. But as any lawyer or judge would tell you, ignorance will not serve as a defense and certainly forgetfulness will not either.
What should I do? Should I confess? Can’t. The restaurant is closed for the day. Should I turn myself in? I could, but the police certainly have more hardened criminals to pursue than little ol’ me.
Anybody who knows me, knows that I am a rule follower. I’m the girl who showed up at every college class without fail. I’m the person who won’t go more than four miles per hour over the posted speed limit. I’m the one who pays my bills on time, every time. It’s in my nature to go by the book or there’s chaos. Call me rigid or square if you must. My world is just better when I, and everyone around me, just follows the rules.
I tried to calm down by telling myself that this is a small town. They know me. I’ll call tomorrow and explain and be waiting at the door when the restaurant opens to pay my bill. Surely they would understand. Right?
Suddenly I realized that possibly one of my lunch companions had paid for my bill. With any luck, they got me off the hook. After all, they wouldn’t want to see me go to jail.
Much to my relief, a simple phone call to one of the people I had lunch with that day calmed me down in a hurry. She had indeed graciously paid for my lunch. I’m not sure if she noticed or if the waitress informed her of my crime, but either way, I was certainly relieved. Now I could sleep, not waiting for the dreaded knock at the door by the local police officer.
Turns out, thanks to my friend, my life as a fugitive was only in my mind created by panic and lasted for about an hour.
Paying for my $7 lunch was surely cheaper than having to bail me out of jail.
Mullally is a Tribune writer.
Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page