Crazy Characters – Don Scagel

This, hopefully, is the first in a series. I got to thinking about Don Scagel. There’s a lot to write about with the guy, but one story comes to mind.

Back in the days of my youth, drinking and driving was more common than it is now. It’s hard to remember the joyfully irresponsible behavior that people got into, myself included, before so many of my friends started riding bicycles of necessity. MAD, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, was just gaining traction. The new seat belt law was freshly on the books, resisted by many and a hard sell to much of the public.

Don and his buddies were out for a night of whooping it up. Beer was flowing because it was a mobile party. Don was at the wheel of a Volkswagen bug, with one good old boy riding shotgun and three more zoomers in the back seat. One of the guys in the back seat thought it would be funny to give Don’s beer a good shake before handing it to him. The result was predictable. Don popped the tab and the can exploded all over him.

Beer was dripping from the headliner when Don pulled into a traffic check. Surprise. Don rolled down his window and with a big goofy grin on his face and a sheepish laugh said to the approaching officer: “Oh damn, officer. Ya got me. I’m not wearing my seat belt.”

“Ah ah.” says the cop, whipping out his ticket book. He hands Don a warning ticket, because they weren’t yet playing hardball over that issue. Don clicks his seat belt, nods to the cop, and drives on.

I don’t want you to think I’m condoning drinking and driving. I’m not. But I have to admire the craziness of life in those days. Consequences be damned.

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