REFUGEE CLEMBO

by Steve Clem on May 31, 2010

Just as I was beginning to settle in for an afternoon nap on a day off with no kids, the phone rang.

“Dad!” It was my oldest son, Nile. “Dad, they’re coming for your car. Get out of there quick.”

In my semi-dazed state, I asked him to repeat himself. “They’re coming for your car. Two men. Hurry.”

As I hung up the phone, I had a few thoughts going through my mind. The first of which was “I hope I get out of here before they find me.”

Adrenaline. A hell of a natural drug. Found that out firsthand when I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane last year. It was kicking full blast at this point, as I ran down to my car, wearing sweats, a Pittsburgh Steelers t-shirt that rarely makes it in public, and some skateboard brand baseball cap I bought for Nile in Mexico that was the only baseball cap I could find in my 30 second escape from my apartment.

Remember the scene from Fletch, when he was sneaking in and out of his apartment to avoid bill collectors? That was what I felt like, minus the Lakers attire.

I hopped in my car, looking for a tow truck the entire time, and zoomed off onto rural roadways, not sure of my next move.

Quickly realizing from my previous repo experience (yes, it’s happened once before, but was buried in a mountain of issues – losing my townhouse, my job, my girlfriend) I knew that if I could pay off my balance due before the repo men found me, they couldn’t take my car. I quickly called my store, where my employee, Deanna, helped me out by logging in and making a payment to my account for me. She uses the same car loan people I do, and has been in my same shoes of trying to dodge the repo man herself.

Paid my amount owed…but the damn business office was closed until Monday morning. I had to hide out for another 36 hours or so.

So I called a friend who knows what it is like to have to lean on someone when there is no way to stand on your own.

I quickly told Fish what was going on, and he just as quickly assured me that the repo man wouldn’t find me in Nordeast Minneapolis.

So off to Nordeast I went. With an empty bank account, and a feeling as if I was Harrison Ford in The Fugitive, I showed up in my sweatpants, t-shirt, and borrowed hat from my oldest son.

A quick plan of action was devised – beers and roast beef sammiches at Mayslack’s – a Nordeast Institution.

We walked the few blocks to the bar, and went between time inside (it was cloudy and cold when the day began) to time on the patio, when the sun had come out, as if to remind me that everything was going to be ok. Fish told me as we got ready to leave the bar that the afternoon of beer and food was on him.

What started out as a normal day, then a stressful day, suddenly had turned into one of those moments where you stop, and remind yourself “none of this really matters in the end, outside of good times with good people.”

As I hopped in my car, planning where I was going to park my car for the next 36 hours, I realized how karma really does happen.

Fish had needed me a few years back, and I helped him out. I needed him for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, and he was there for me.

I raise a glass of Nordeast Beer in honor of Fish, and more importantly, all friends who are willing to step up to the plate and help a friend out at a time when others may just sneer and judge them for being in the predicament to begin with.

Life is a hard mofo at times. Having good people around you can make all the difference between it being worth it, or not. Remember that the next time a friend asks you for some help.

* * * *

Steve Clem originally published this piece on the blog A Prisoner in the Tundra.

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