It's a rainy, gloomy Sunday afternoon. I get a big bowl of popcorn and some liquid refreshment. I sit down to enjoy the Orioles game against the Texas Rangers. The Orioles are facing Nolan Ryan. Chuck Thompson says that, on any given day, Ryan is a threat to pitch a no-hitter. The Orioles pull out to an early lead on a three-run homer by big Sam Horn. No no-hitter this day, boy! The Orioles lose 15-3.
Great. Just great.
Early in the morning, I step into the kitchen in my jammies. I'm barefoot. I grab three plastic shopping bags full of garbage and loop them on three fingers of my left hand. With the other hand, I pick up a cardboard box of recyclable plastic and glass bottles. I step outside the house. I kick the kitchen door behind me. The door locks shut. I put down the garbage bags and try to pry my way back in. While I become increasingly obsessed with breaking into my own house, my two dogs tear into the garbage bags on the driveway and chew the old chicken bones. Coffee grinds everywhere.
Great. Just great.
It's Monday morning and I hear the snarl of a Baltimore garbage truck tearing down my street. Once again, I have overslept. Once again, the sanitation crews have come early and I have failed to put the trash out in time. The following Thursday, I rise even earlier -- 6 a.m. -- and put out the trash. This time, the trash truck arrives about noon.
I have a filthy car. I pay by the week to park it in a very nice garage near the Baltimore Sun newspaper building. I use the space daily. One Sunday night, I feel lazy. I park the car on North Calvert Street, directly in front of the Baltimore Sun newspaper building. Six hours later, I leave the city room and return to the car. The driver's side keyhole has been mangled by a would-be car thief who apparently attempted to gain entry of the vehicle for the purpose of using it without authorization. Remarkably, the car is still there, and none of its precious contents -- six library books and a one-pound bag of Peanut M&Ms -- has been stolen. But the car is still filthy.
I go to buy a new pair of eyeglasses. I pick out a pair I like. How much do they cost? "These are $55," the sales clerk says. I return a week later to pick them up. "That'll be $144," the clerk says. But I thought they only cost $55! "Oh," says the clerk. "That was $55 for the frames, and $89 for the lenses."
Great. Just great.
I take the new glasses anyway. I wear them regularly. I like them. Three weeks later, I sit on them and break them.
It's spring. I go into the garage for the first time in months. I find the lawn mower and pull it out onto the driveway. I try to start it. I pull and pull. It won't start. I check the oil. It won't start. I check the gasoline. It still won't start. I take it to the lawn mower doctor. He finds a mouse nest in the engine block, along with a dead mouse.
I go to the University of Maryland College Park to speak to a journalism class. I am given a one-day parking permit. I drive on campus. The only space I can find happens to be metered. I hang the permit on my rearview mirror and, just to be safe, I feed the meter and buy two hours. I go to the class. I return to find a $10 parking ticket on my windshield. Outraged, I staple the permit and the ticket together with the intention of mailing them back to university police, along with a piece of my mind. Then I notice the fine print on the one-day parking permit: "This permit does not authorize parking at unpaid parking meters."
Great. Just great!
In February, I write a column about an outraged citizen, a victim of a crime. He's angry. He's frustrated. His house has been burglarized. But that's not why the citizen is angry. He's angry because the justice system works at such an unbearably slow pace. A suspect was arrested in the burglary, but there have been three delays in bringing the case to trial -- two postponements and one failure-to-appear by the defendant. ,X Nobody stands up for the victim, the victim cries! Finally, the case is set for trial on April 9. But guess what. This time, the victim doesn't show.
Here's another guess-what: The victim in the previous story is one Joe Scalia, a University of Baltimore law student. He didn't go to court last week because he had something else to do. He had to announce that he was running for mayor . . . on an anti-crime platform!