"Dear IRS, I am writing to you to cancel my subscription. Please remove my name from your mailing list" -- Charles M. Schulz (Snoopy)
A month before 9/11, after a prestigious, 40-year career in advertising, I was laid off from my job as Director of Broadcast Production for a small advertising agency, because we lost our only television client.
I commanded six figures for many of those years. I paid my taxes on time and often early. I never even had a parking ticket... to this point.
When the tragedy of September 11 happened, the whole world came to a halt, in every way. Companies stopped hiring, certainly no clients were producing advertising, except for pharmaceuticals, I was in the middle of a divorce, I'd just moved into a hideously expensive apartment, and couldn't find work of any kind.
I was collecting unemployment insurance for the extended period granted to most folks out of work, my business was hit particularly hard. "Advertising is the canary in the mine shaft of the economy" one employer used to say.
I was desperate and paralyzed with fear. So I took a demeaning job for very little money, getting a good dose of humility, having to call people who used to call me for work. What I didn't realize was, the tail end of my unemployment insurance was running out... at the same time. I had never been on unemployment for such a long period. I'm not sure what I was thinking except, I had worked non stop for 40 years and I'd paid in to unemployment my whole life, there was a sense of entitlement I guess.
I couldn't have been more wrong! It was apparently perceived as 'double dipping' a common practice for those with an acumen for fraud!
One morning, the buzzer rang. Three plain-clothes detectives were standing in the doorway. They put me in handcuffs (hands cuffed in front) which I'm told they do if there is not an imminent threat of violence.
The only thing I could take with me was my ID, keys and "something to read"... I had just gotten a shipment of one of my books which I grabbed from the table. I took a pen to write my experiences... it wasn't allowed, it was a possible weapon. Gulp. So I wound up pressing thoughts in the pages of the book with a quarter.
They perp walked me, through the lobby of my luxury doorman building, drove me downtown, giggling and talking about their dates the previous night. I couldn't catch my breath, I felt I was suffocating, and thought I would pass out. Through my tears, the rain drizzled on the window. It was hyper real. This couldn't be happening.
They took me to The Tombs, one of the most notorious jails in the country, several flights below the court house.
They booked me for Grand Larceny. To this day I have no idea why I was arrested and charged, I kept thinking, "I'm working on my Oprah story" it was the only thing that got me through.
I happened to be wearing cashmere and Armani that day. As they took my mug shot, they asked me what I was doing there... was I protesting? By the way, if you can pull any strings, I'd sure love a copy of that photo!
Each flight had a door that locked with a crushing, death row finality. They affectionately call it Dante's Inferno. It was the 9th Circle of Hell.
I was put into a cell with a bunch of women who all seemed to know each other, a lively group in there for drugs and prostitution, I was certainly the best dressed.
I was told by one of the detainees, "In the Tombs if they are jonesing on drugs they better be dying cause they stop the clock take you to Bellevue, then bring you back and start over again."
One woman quietly and tragically, wept in the corner. Another had these two huge eyes tattooed on her back peeking through her visible string bikini. One woman said "the Puerto Ricans are really superstitious, they want you to know their eyes are on you at all times."
There was a latrine in the corner with a saloon door and no toilet paper. There were disgusting blue gym mats to 'sleep' on and occasionally, they would throw in salami sandwiches on white bread with curled up corners and little mustard packets. The pros grabbed handfuls of them.
Ten, interminable hours dragged by. Occasionally, they would come to the door and call a name and someone would leave to go upstairs to their arraignment. Thank goodness my friend and lawyer, Maria gave me a handful of quarters when they took my Rolex. There was a pay phone just outside the bars. I felt like I was in a Jimmy Cagney movie,
I was 57 years old... and I was in jail!
At one point, I'd run out of quarters. On top of the pay phone there was the newest, shiniest copper penny I'd ever seen. I remember a friend had said to me once every time he saw a penny he thought, "In God We Trust." I clutched that penny in my hand till I was finally taken upstairs to my arraignment and sobbed when I read over the judges' head, "In God We Trust."
Long story short, it cost me $7,000 to procure a fancy criminal lawyer whose name struck fear in the heart of the judge, to handle the case. I was such a mess, I cried all the time... for months, I still don't know what I did... I was so post traumatic stressed for the next six months I had to go into therapy with TWO shrinks.
And so... in light of the recent news, I'd like to say....
You can kiss my royal Irish ass!