20 years old. What was I doing when I was 20 years old? I was in college. I got good grades. I stayed out of trouble. That’s what most people thought anyways. It didn’t mean I wasn’t actually causing trouble. Alcohol, drugs, trespassing, theft, reckless driving, and a long list of other debaucheries were part of my everyday life. By the age of 20, how many nights had I driven home drunk? Dozens. Maybe even a hundred. I drove at least a hundred times while I was high, and probably multiples of that number. I was never even pulled over.
When I turned 18 I got a fake ID. How many times did I buy alcohol with it? Again, probably over a hundred. There were two times I almost got caught with it. The first involved a bouncer at a bar taking it and accusing me of giving him a fake ID. I made a big scene and eventually he gave it back, letting me off the hook. The second time I went into a liquor store high on shrooms and tried to buy a case of beer with my other underage friends waiting outside in the car. The cashier saw my friends and refused to sell me the beer. I left it on the counter and ran out the door. I didn’t get the beer, but I also didn’t get in any trouble. One time my friend and I used our fake IDs to get drunk for a work outing at a professional baseball game. To our surprise, our boss had registered us to be the 7th inning stretch entertainment on the field. The announcer realized we were drunk and pointed it out, but no one questioned us beyond that. There were a few underage drinking tickets I got over the years, but I always got out of them with only a small fine by showing up in court.
It’s crazy how many things I got away with. One night, while intoxicated, my friends and I drove all over a golf course in a car. Another time, we got drunk, stole the pins from the greens and javelined them through car windows. How many times did I vandalize things? There was the night I went around stomping on windshields after drinking a bunch of tequila. Another night I stole a set of golf clubs and hit golf balls across the river towards the police station. That’s one time I can say having awful golf skills was probably a good thing. Again, I never got caught. Then there was the summer where my friends and I would get drunk and go skinny dipping in different stranger’s pools and hot tubs. Sometimes we would even jump off the diving boards. Still never got caught.
These are just a fraction of the things I got away with as an adolescent. There are many more I could describe if I took the time. The fact that I didn’t end up in prison or dead is a miracle. A few days ago, a 20 year old black kid named Daunte Wright was pulled over for a traffic violation and shot dead. I have to wonder, would I have made it past 20 if I was black? If I had dark skin would I have been able to drive around intoxicated hundreds of times without being pulled over once? Would I have been able to sneak my way into bars and clubs using a fake ID? Would I have been able to wiggle my way out of tickets in court? Would I have been able to run around destroying things without anyone questioning me? Would I have been able to be thought of as a good student with no one figuring out I was a liar? Would I have no criminal record and be able to walk around freely? Would I be alive?
William Joseph Scheremet