Streets & Sanitation

[A repeat from October 28, 2012]

For 5 plus years, I was an Assistant States Attorney – Felony Trial Division in Chicago.  My daughter was born in the middle of a brutal two week murder jury trial (for which I go back every three years to testify in parole hearings to argue against release of the killer).  Donna went into labor at about 2:00 a.m. on a Thursday morning.  I called my friend and partner in the case and said “Charlie – Donna’s having the baby. You’re gonna have to handle things today.” His response “Congrats but be here tomorrow.”   

The next day, I showed up at the office with my arms packed with files and three boxes of cigars.  So picture this — I’m in my office passing out cigars, smiling, yabbering, guys wandering in and out when suddenly a large chap appeared at my door.  He was wearing bib overalls, high rubber boots, thick shirt and a hat.  He leaned against the door frame.  “Is there a Scott Petersen here” he asked.  We all turned.  I raised my hand.  “Yeah.  That’s me.”  “You missin’ anything?” he asked.  I felt pockets.  Jacket.  My checkbook!  It’s gone.  “My checkbook” I said.  He held it up waggling it between two fingers.  “I found it on the street.”    I quickly dipped into my wallet for a twenty.  “Here” – I said taking the checkbook.  “Thank you. I apprec. . . ” “No.  That’s okay,”  he held up his hand.  “I’m with Streets and Sanitation.  I want you guys to know — we have a lot of good people in Streets and Sanitation.”    I then said “My wife just had a baby.  Can I offer you some cigars?”  He looked at the open box.  “That I will take.”  He grabbed a large handful of stogies and disappeared.

It’s funny how things happen – and there are moments of intense clarity.  Obviously I’ll never forget the birth of my daughter (I was there 🙂 ) but I’ll also never forget the integrity of that stranger.  Streets & Sanitation . . . . .  

Simple as ABC

If I have chocolate at night – any kind of chocolate – I will fall asleep like a baby. And then wake up at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. — ready for the day.  It’s very hard to get back to sleep.  

When we go out for dinner and they are clearing the plates, my mind always strays. In the direction of dessert. “Would you like to see the dessert menu?” says the server. “Oh goshSure. I’ll look at it.” Har har har. . . . “Look” at it.  Right.  I see the sorbet assortment or the crème brule or the peach cobbler.  It’s then that I start sweating.  My heart races.  Because right there under the pumpkin cheesecake is the brownie pot with chocolate sauce.  And then the chocolate profiteroles.  And below that it’s the chocolate gooey globs with chocolate sauce and M&M’s.  Donna looks at me with that don’t do it look.   I start mumbling “ch-ch-ch-choco . . . ”   And for a moment, I become strong and say “I’ll have the blackberry sorbet” knowing what’s going to happen.  The server scribbles, turns and starts to walk away.  It’s then I go “Wait – wait – I’ll have the chocolate gooey globs with chocolate sauce and M&M’s.”  The server nods.  Smiles.  In a knowing way.  And walks away.  The gooey globs arrive.  And they are delicious.

We go home.  I climb in bed and fall asleep.  At 3:00 a.m. I wake up.  Sharply.  And feel like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day.”  Next time.  I resolve.  I will be strong.  A-B-C.  “Anything but chocolate.”  Har har har. . . . .