I Marylou’s
II Holiday Traffic into Bronx
III Melanie’s Guyanese Roti
IV Trump’s Salute to America
V Arrested in Rockland
VI Chinatown
VII Nantasket
VIII Arraignment
IX Springfield
X The Trial

I arrived in Rockland, Mass, a small town charm, just 20 miles south of Boston. I’ve been waiting patiently several days for this load, one that probably wasn’t even worth my time. Boston is a world class city and a major intermodal seaport. But a trucker without a trailer is like a vagrant without a sign – gotta take whatever’s thrown at me.

I couldn’t find anything leaving the city heading south.  Most loads were coming into the city and making its way from the port heading east, south and all points in between. So I settled for a moving van from Casey’s Movers. Instead of freight, the load was comprised of furniture, household goods for a 3-bedroom single family house with a large living room and home-office den complemented with a 7-piece oak dining room.

The goods needed to be shipped to Glen Burnie, MD, a suburb south of Baltimore, a tad bit bigger than Rockland.   It was the day before  July Fourth, so the family would have to wait until after the long holiday weekend. When I arrived I was greeted by Debbie, who apologized for the trailer not been ready. The movers were doing last-minute securement, so I decided to go across the street to grab a cup of joe.

Marylou’s is an aesthetically-pleasing coffee shop adorned in bright pink walls, countertops, solid-wood stools and colorful signage.  The floors complemented the delicate floral shades with monochromatic black & white like a gigantic checkerboard to dance on.

“Super cute. Really digging this decor,” I exclaimed. My immediate reaction was to pull out my handy Ricoh Theta V and take a 360 spherical shot of the pastel walls and dark checkered floors. I greeted the barista and asked if it was ok to shoot a picture.

“Umm, what for?” she asked sheepishly. “Google street view,” I replied matter-of-factly.  So you can see inside, too.”

“Sure thing,” she replied. I quickly took the shot remotely controlling the shutter with my iPhone, reviewed it, then brought the phone over to her so she could see it, too. “Oh cool, that looks fine,” she replied.

I nodded in agreement and thanked her kindly. Then I sat down next to a counter by the window facing the main street. From there I could see the red of my truck next to Casey’s. But there was one more thing I needed to do before I picked up my load. I turned on my laptop and opened Google maps. I wanted to double check my route and check on the traffic heading south. It was the busiest time of the year to drive – it would be a hell of a day to drive.

Then just as I was about ready to shut down my laptop, a lady taps me on the shoulder.

“Hi, I’m Jen. I’m a marketing manager for the company, and I just happened to be here working on a new promotion for our latte. I understand you wanted to take a picture of the store. Can I ask why?”

“Yes, it’s for Google Street View – so customers can see inside the business on their phones.”

The lady paused for a long second as she reviewed the image. “Do you work for Google.”

“No, I actually work for RUNINOut as I turned my laptop towards her to show the homepage of my site.  But Google no longer dispatches their own crew to capture local businesses. Instead the work is crowdsourced to their street-view trusted photographers,” I replied nonchalantly  as I handed her my card.

“Why didn’t you call ahead that you were coming?”

“Well, I’ve never heard of Marylou’s before. I just came over to grab a cup of coffee and noticed on the Google Street view app that you don’t have an interior street view posted online.”

The lady glanced at my site, then at the picture I took. She seemed satisfied with what she saw then mentioned that she had to check on something and would be back shortly. She was back before I could exhale.

“I just called Corporate. We would appreciate it if you depart the premises immediately.”

I faced her and met her strong gaze in disbelief.  Why the sudden stern tone, I thought. ‘Certainly. I’ll leave right now,”I said. I was ready to go anyway and the trailer should be all set by now. “And if it’s ok, I send a message to the company’s Facebook page so you’ll  know how to get ahold of me. In case you have any questions or issues with the picture.”

The lady thanked me despondently, and I headed off towards my truck ready to couple onto the trailer, carrying a families most cherished possessions.


II Holiday Traffic into Bronx

The drive from Rockland, Mass wasn’t that bad except for a 10-mile stretch through Providence that turned into an idling parking lot. And once I got to New York, traffic once again came to a stand still. I-95 to the George Washington Bridge was bumper to bumper, and I had to find a way out.

I got off the first exit to escape from it all. Being a Washingtonian where the entire metro in the city is deeply submerged, I forgot that wasn’t the case for the outer boroughs of New York. In both the Bronx and Queens, the 115 year-old train tracks were built long before the invention of the tractor trailer. The poorly-designed elevated train tracks criss-cross all over the city with abandon and little warning.

As I approached the tracks, I was immediately faced with a critical juncture. There was no outlet ahead – I had to either turn left or right. And right turns are a big no-no in the city.

So I steered all the way right and waited till the very last moment before I cut to the left, making the widest turn I could muster. But I had 53 foot of trailer behind me and an enormous steel platform support structure would not get out of the way.

This wasn’t my trailer where I could afford a nick or scratch here or there. It belonged to Casey’s Movers and if it took any damage, I would be paying for it.

I stopped in the middle of the intersection, amongst honking and yelling and NYC drivers are notorious for their aggressive display of road rage. Despite my heightened stress, I wasn’t gonna rush this turn. I rocked the truck back and forth until I cleared the last support by a hair’s breath. But I wasn’t out of the woods yet. Back in the 1800’s structural engineering was not nearly as advanced as it is today. Steel was bulky and not as dense  strong, so engineers installed beams every 100 feet on both sides of the tracks to support the weight. If you were lucky to clear the rear support from the driver’s side you may not be so lucky to clear the support ahead on the passenger side. This was the case.

I grimaced – was beginning to regret coming into the city. Maybe I should have stayed in Rockland and left the following morning. But that lady at Marylou’s ordered me to leave.

The elevated railroad tracks makes it challenging to navigate a semi through the Bronx.  It took me several minutes of twists and turns before I was able to clear the final beam.

After my close call, I found a spot to park and was ready to grab a bite to eat.


III Melanie’s Guyanese Roti

After my close call, I was ready for a hot meal and a cold drink. Usually any street vendor would do, but heck I’m in the Bronx and this city has many flavors.

A few blocks away I found a colorful Caribbean eatery with tropical decor that I couldn’t resist. A couple with long dreads were enjoying their hookahs in the patio surrounded by potted palm trees.

Inside, I discovered a charming restaurant that was emptying since it was pushing 9.

A lady quickly approached and handed me a menu assuring me that I had plenty of time to order.

I introduced myself, and the lady returned a genuine smile and a firm hand.

“I’m Suneta,” she said smilingly. “My husband Tillock is by the bar.”

He waived then I walked over and inquired about the name.

“So who is Melanie?”

“Our daughter,” Tillock answered, as he pointed to her picture.

“So I ‘m a big fan of roti,” I mentioned.  “I ate it frequently dipping in curry when I lived in Singapore. I love the taste and texture.”

“That’s great. Guyanese roti is a bit different. We use stoneground wholemeal flour so it’s a little softer. Try it yourself”

I sat down at the bar and was greeted by Nicole.

“Make me something smooth but strong,” I requested. “I’ve had a heck of a day on the road, and I wanna be rocked gently to sleep tonight.”

Nicole quickly went to work and concocted a Henny Colada, Hennessy Cognac 40% ABV. I downed it quickly – it was indeed juicy and creamy with a heavy kick.

“Glad you like the Henny – you should come back tomorrow. We have the best happy hour on the hill,” Nicole said with a smile.

Suneta recommended I try the the jerk chicken fried rice or the chow mein seasoned with Caribbean curry and soy sauce.

Apparently Guyanese food is a fusion of many influences: African, Creole, East Indian, Amerindian, Portuguese, and Chinese

Suneta was right about the roti – it was soft and tasty – the best I’ve had in years. And the jerk chicken fried rice – Wow! Tasty, well seasoned and the chicken had a nice kick.

Overall the place was very colorful, the owners were nice and the jerk chicken fried rice was on the point.

Full and fulfilled, I was ready to crash and then onto DC.

IV Trump’s Salute to America

I rushed from Boston on July 3rd to DC to attend Trump’s elaborate Salute to America. There’s very few things about Trump that I am excited about, and this is one of them. Trump, the TV star,  is all about show. First there was a big parade. Then the Fireworks show at the Lincoln Memorial. Flanked by Bradley armored vehicles and M1A2 tanks in front of the statue of Abraham Lincoln, Trump paid homage to the five branches of the military as a chorus sang each service hymn and he cued the arrival of fighter jets, helicopters, Air Force One and other military aircraft as they roared overhead.

Speaking to a rain-soaked audience filled with troops decked out in “Make America Great Again” and “Trump 2020” paraphernalia, the president finally presided over the grand military display that he has wanted since witnessing the Bastille Day parade in Paris two years ago. In a 45-minute speech surprisingly non-partisan speech the president singled out a long list of Americans for their contributions to science, medicine, politics and the arts. He also spun a history that praised everything from the civil rights movement to space exploration and praised everyone from the suffragists to Harriet Tubman to Chuck Yeager. But he spent most of his time recounting the progression of the armed forces, ending his remarks as the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” blared through huge speakers and the Blue Angels soared overhead. The extravaganza this year, cost about $13 million – double of the cost of previous years. Will he host another big show next year, possibly his last as President?

 


V Arrested in Rockland

A week later I was back in Rockland to return the trailer. I had delivered the load of household goods to a cheerful family and was able to secure a backhaul of aluminum rods from Baltimore to Boston in order to leverage my earnings. As I brought the trailer to the parking lot of Casey’s I realized I was famished. Mouth-watering images of Marylou’s hot breakfast sandwiches whetted my appetite. I ordered a sausage and egg on an everything bagel and cafe latte.

Then I walked around the coffee shop looking for an outlet for my laptop.  The food came quickly, and I took a load off. I had not taken a second bite, when I noticed three police officers enter the premises. They quickly checked in with the manager and then approached me suspiciously. Clearly they’re not here for me. Is there something wrong with my truck? “I hear you’re taking pictures!” A strong voice bellowed. I looked bewildered. Was he asking or telling.  Either way the question was strange and rhetorical.

“Not today”, I said.

“I was last week though. why do you ask?”

“We got a complaint that you are trespassing. May we see an ID?”

“Why do you need to see my ID.  I haven’t done anything wrong.”

“We need to see your ID so we can write a no trespassing order, so you’ll be formally notified never to come back.”

“I’m not trespassing sir. No one ever told me I couldn’t be here. I’m a paying client trying to eat my breakfast in peace. However if you like, I’d be happy to take my food out and depart the premises”

“Not until you provide an ID.”

“Whoa, am I under arrest?”

“Not yet, but if you don’t cooperate, you could be.  What is your name and what are you doing here?” the officer asked sternly.

“My name is Chito Peppler. I’m a truck driver from Washington, DC, and I was just enjoying my breakfast and coffee so I don’t starve before I head back home.”

“Why won’t you show us your ID?”

“Because I haven’t done anything wrong sir.  I know the law. Massachusetts is not a Stop and ID state.  Now I have things to do. So can I please leave now?”

“No you may not – until you show us your ID.” I winced in disgust.  Then I picked up my bag and started to leave. A big, burly officer who towered over me blocked my way. Unsure of what to do next, I reached over to grab my phone to  start recording just in case they try something funny. But I never got the chance. As soon as I picked up my phone, the officers jumped into action.

They slammed me hard against the window, turned me around like a crumpled-up ragdoll.  One officer grabbed my phone.  The other cuffed me then marched me into his idling cruiser, pushing me hard into the backseat. They drove me into the precinct which was only a 5-minute walk from the coffee shop. There they emptied my backpack, found my military ID and exclaimed.

“You were in the Navy! You should have shown us this in the first place – all this nonsense could have been avoided.”

“What, just because I’m a veteran? I’m standing up for all people –  military, civilian, citizens and non against unlawful detention and arrest.”

“This is the second time, we’ve been called on you, isn’t it?”

“I don’t think so. I’ve never talked to the Rockland police.  The last time I was at the coffee shop, I left when they asked without incident.”

“Then why did you come back?” “They never said I couldn’t.  And they never told me that there was an issue in the first place.  But they had no problem taking my money today.”

Wait. Hold up. I’m talking too much to the police. Best to  invoke my rights from here, and save it for court. The detention took over four hours.

They photographed, finger printed me and charged me for Witness Intimidation, Disturbing the Peace, and Disorderly Conduct. I then paid my bail and was ordered to return after the weekend – Hingham District Court for my arraignment. On the way out, they handed me this Letter of No Trespass.  Not a problem – I’m giving Marylous – this one as well as all 40 of them – a wide berth. 

VI Chinatown

I made the short drive to Beantown, my head in a cloud. I would spend the weekend trying to process what happened and pondering the next steps. I also needed to rest and ice my wrist, in order to relieve the pain and reduce the inflammation. Once I drove into the city, I was greeted by an elegant arch, flanked on both sides by bronze statutes .

Unlike DC’s tiny and rapidly diminishing enclave, Chinatown Boston has created a strong foothold since the late 19th century, it is now the only surviving Sino-Chinese community in New England. In the mid 1800’s, the lure of gold and construction of the transcontinental railroad brought the first wave of Chinese immigrants to America. The Chinese were paid lower wages than their counterparts causing the Whites to begin fearing for their jobs resulting in anti-Chinese sentiment. To escape the discrimination, many of the Chinese moved east and their communities became increasingly segregated. The first Chinese migrated to Boston from San Francisco in 1870 to break up a strike at the Sampson Shoe Factory.

Chinatown along Harrison Street was created due to the anti-Chinese movement and the desire to separate the community from the rest of the city. But today, the opposite is happening. In Chinatowns all across America, gentrification has taken hold and the Whites and Wealthy are steadily moving back in. Since the beginning, the Chinese have weathered a lot of cultural challenges and abuse in America, but thankfully, today, Americans have prudently learned to embrace the heritage and cuisines imported from mainland China.

Such is the case of dim sum. In ancient China, weary travelers trekking the Silk Road to Europe stopped along the way at roadside tea-houses for rest and replenishment. Several hundred years later, restaurants in Hong Kong, adding the freshest ingredients, refined the dishes to a classical culinary art form The delicious recipes were exported to the U.S. when thousands of Chinese immigrated to San Francisco during the Gold Rush of the 1850’s. Now it is a staple in every excursion to Chinatown.

Thankfully, there are several high-profile dim sum eateries in Boston. Famished and forlorn, I entered the very first eatery I stumbled upon. The establishment appeared modest from the outside but once inside the atmosphere transformed into a banquet hall filled with communal tables packed with multi-generational families. Hei La Moon is a highly-rated sprawling, bi-level banquet hall filled with office workers, tourists to wedding parties.

Usually there’s a long wait, but today my timing was fortuitous and I was able to secure a seat right away next to an Asian American couple with two young children.   They appeared to be making light conversation while ordering everything that came over in boxy, stainless steel carts. I was given a paper ticket and a pot of tea while I waited patiently for the next cart pushed around by a lady yelling out her wares.

If you’re indecisive like me, you’ve come to the right place. The prices of each dish is so reasonable, you can usually afford to order everything that catches the eye. If you don’t like the fluffy steam buns (char siu bao) or the chewy, translucent skin in the shrimp dumpling (har gow), there’s no shame in leaving food untouched.

And you don’t need to speak a lick of Chinese to eat like a Hong Kongese. You can just wait for the steamy, hot carts to come to you with ladies yelling out their offerings and point to the dish that you’re eager to try. The server will stamp your sheet, and you’ll be rewarded with bite-sized morsels that serves it purpose in whetting my appetite. People start eating dim sum early in the morning. During the lunch hour madness, it can be quite a chaotic scene.

It’s better if you’re dining with others so you can order a wide variety and find something you like. Cheung fun (steamed sheets of filled rice noodles served with sweet soy), steamed pork ribs, chicken feet, tripe, congee with preserved egg, you name it. But even going solo, the portions are small enough that you can consume lots of dishes before you’re ready to take on your final round of dessert — normally an egg-filled custard that’s both crispy and sweet, washed down generously with miniature cups of boiling hot tea.

I started with the Char Siu Bao, (fluffy steam buns with pork) and Har Gow (shrimp dumplings wrapped by chewy, translucent skin).  The couple next to me were chewing on Chicken feet and slurping congee. Next to the hot, simmering bowl, were long, golden brown strips of dough, deep fried and chewy called Youtiao.

“So do you guys come here, often?

“Well, we don’t live too far from here.  We’re from South Shore and every time we’re in town, we make a beeline for Chinatown,” the young mother responded.

“Yeah, we like to get Dim Sum, since it’s four of us, so there’s something for everyone,” the father chimed in. “I couldn’t agree with you more. I like the convenience and you get full without breaking the bank,” I added.

“So do you live here?”

“No, I’m from DC. I’m actually in town because I have an arraignment on Monday in Hingham.”

“Really, that’s just down the road from us. We live in Quincy.  What happened – do you mind if we ask?”

“Of course, not,” I replied. I straightforwardly started on a dramatic narration of yesterday’s events. The couple listened attentively over bites of  small bites of Char Siu Bao and Har Gow.

They were familiar with Marylou’s and couldn’t believe they called the police on me.

“What a frivolous waste of taxpayers dollars.  When you call the police, bad things can happen,” the husband remarked.

“I couldn’t agree with you more. If there are any issues, the first thing to do is approach the customer and let him know your concerns. Try to work it out first before calling 5.0”

“Absolutely, and even if you couldn’t come to terms, you always give the other party a heads up before calling the cops. If no one is been harmed, let them know ahead of time,” he added.

They wished me the best of luck, and I thanked them for hearing my story as I showed the waitress my bill filled with over a dozen stamps and handed her two dollar bills.  What an enjoyable meal. The service wasn’t the best and neither was the cleanliness. But you go for dim sum not expecting white linen service. If you’re a dim sum enthusiast, it may not be the best tasting or freshest ingredients you’ve ever had, but if you want dim sum and you’re in Boston, Hei La Moon must be on your bucket list. I spent the rest of the day touring Boston. The next day, I would drive to Hull Beach so I could be ready for my arraignment on Monday.

VII Nantasket

The drive to Hull was serene and reflective.  Contrary to what some out-of-towners may think, the name was not acquired from the hulls of hulking shipwrecks that dotted the coast near the Nantasket peninsular. Instead it is named after Kingston upon Hull in the United Kingdom. Hull used to be the playground for the rich and famous.

The super wealthy from all over New England vacationed here and stayed at beach-front homes.  It was only an hours drive from Boston, and people could come here by car, train or ferry. Over a hundred years ago, Paragon Park was a popular amusement park with rides and entertainment for all ages. Tourists from all over flocked here in the summer to swim, relax and catch a thrill on the 98-foot wooden coaster, the tallest in the world.

Sadly, much has changed much over the years. Nantasket Beach rapidly started losing crowds to nearby Cape Cod with its increasingly-fashionable Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

In 1984, Paragon Park closed, and the coaster was torn down and sold at an auction for a song and a dance to Six Flags in Bowie, Maryland.

To mark the 30th anniversary of the end of the Allied victory in World War II, two Soviet destroyers visit Boston Harbor. The destroyers are the first Soviet ships to dock at a U.S. port since the beginning of the Cold War. Sailors were given a tour of the area including Nantasket Beach.

While the amusement was dead, the views were still in demand. The park was transformed into a condominium complex with breathtaking views of Nantasket Beach and Massachusetts Bay.

It was a prime spot, but developers fell on hard times with rising interest rates and an earth-shattering rash of foreclosures. Many of the condominiums were never built and today there is a large tract of vacant land that was once filled with rides and parkgoers. Thirty years later, there is not much here to attract tourism dollars – just the calming sounds of the ocean and the miles of secluded coastline. There are a few fancy restaurants to attract the deep-pockets and bars and night clubs for millennials to party at. Hull has slipped into a culinary wasteland with ample vacancy and distressed property that yearns to attract the lost crowd that once came in droves.

The only remnant of the historic park is the the carousel built in 1928. And even that is dilapidated and shows years of neglect. It’s a travesty, especially since Hull with it’s pristine beaches and treasured history has a lot to offer. That’s why I was both delighted and shocked that I would be one of the few lucky ones to be enjoying a cold-water swim catching a wave as I slowly made my way into the Massachusetts Bay.

I eased in. First my ankle, then to my knees, splashing water on myself to acclimate to the chilly water.  The roaring surf did the rest. There was already someone else ahead of me.  He was already chest-deep, body surfing, big smiles. “So how’s the water?” I inquired. “Chilly, but down right warm for this time of the year – we’ve had an unseasonable winter.”

“Oh yeah, where there aren’t a lot of swimmers out today – most are just relaxing in the sand.”

“Yeah, they’re waiting till August, the water will be a tad bit warmer then.”

“I’m Chito by the way,” I said reaching out my hand, still shivering from the cold. “Nice to meet you. My name is Tiger short for Jim Six Tiger”

“Pleasure is all mine. So what do you do? “I’m a firefighter and paramedic at the Scituate Fire Department.”

“Really, are you born and raised here?” “Not born, but have lived here most of my life. Started a family here.” “So what do you do – are you vacationing?”

“I’m a truck driver, but I’m here for another reason.” So, I gave my new friend Tiger my 5-minute narration as he listened and caught some waves.

“Yeah, it’s sad to say Bro, but I’m not surprised. That’s another reason to move back to the city – there’s little diversity here.”

“So my arraignment is tomorrow and I’m gonna fight the charges and defend my name.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong man no need to have a bullshit charge on you for that shit.”

“Yeah, so you’re familiar with the Rockland Police Department.”

“I’ve been around there. Unfortunately that’s the world we live in in a world where we have to be careful not to make white people uncomfortable”

VIII Arraignment
The Court dropped two charges and kept the Disturbing the Peace (which is great news since Witness intimidation is a felony)
The Prosecutor told me that the DA would dismiss this charge if I pay $150. However the arraignment and the dismissed charge would show up on my record.
 
I told them I would rather have the charge dropped (not dismissed) which they refused. They begged me to pay the 150 for the dismissal but I held firm.
 
They then set the pretrial hearing to Sept 12.
 
I don’t qualify for a public defender so I told them I would represent myself.  They also informed me that the max penalty of Disturbing the Peace is $150 (the same amount they wanted me to pay today)
 
The Prosecutor hinted (informally) that this charge would never go to trial (they have bigger fish to fry)
IX Springfield

Springfield hasn’t changed much since I first visited with my family in 1976. That was our first visit to the U.S., coming over on an extended summer vacation from the island nation of Singapore.

The stylish Worthy Hotel, built in 1895 as Springfield’s finest tourist house, is still there as an apartment, but still just as majestic. And the city, founded in 1636, played a pivotal role in the American Revolution.

 
 

I visited again when I attended Surface Warfare Officer School in Newport, Rhode Island in the winter of 1993. I went to see my ole Singapore friends, Peggy, Paul and David. It was one of the coldest days that year with a cold spell so severe, it brought Springfield to its knees.

26 years later it was good to return with warmer weather during the middle of summer.

Cruise Night at Court Square

From the outset Springfield hasn’t altered one bit It still has its unimpressive skyline due to an antiquated state law limiting the city’s building height to 125′, which remained in effect until the 70’s.

But once you head downtown, you’ll notice much has changed right away. First Springfield is just as safe and family-friendly as it was when I first came here as a kid. Back then Court Square was a popular meeting place for people all around town to converge and socialize.

 
Cruise Night at Court Square. First Church of Christ, built in 1819, is in the background
 

I stumbled upon Cruise Night at Court Square where classic car owners from all over New England converge to showcase their wheels. There was a wide variety of classics from old Fords to Corvettes. There were burgers and dogs and classic hits blasted from 97.7.

 
 

It was refreshing to see a badass 500+ HP supercharged engine on a muscle car rather than my low power (350 hp) /high torque 13-liter Maxxforce that I had to deal with day in and day out.

 

Yes, semi truck engines are a completely different beast. And they are designed to run a million miles, stopping only for maintenance and when the driver has shut down for the night.

 
 

With today’s higher fuel prices, the 13-liter engine has become the engine of choice due to weight reduction and fuel economy.

And what has changed in this unpretentious, Victorian New England town is a multi-million dollar Las Vegas-style casino.

The MGM Springfield opened in 2018 to much hope and fanfare.

First, I went next door to the legendary Red Rose known for decades to serve the best Italian pizza north of NYC. When MGM started their plans to come to Springfield, there was talks in buying out Red Rose’s property. But owner Tony Caputo had no interest in leaving the business his parents started in 1958.

And since opening, business has been booming for Caputo. They’ve been busy literally from the minute they open the doors, and often there’s up to a two hour wait.

Now Red Rose is building a 2,000 square feet kitchen where you can stand on the street and watch their seasoned chefs toss dough up in the air then bake them in their wood fired brick ovens. The pies are loaded with their signature red sauce and thick toppings. Their temperatures are so piping hot, the pies are sizzling within minutes.

Since, I couldn’t wait , I decided to check out what MGM had to offer in their gargantuan food hall. I strolled inside the South End Market to see a wide variety of food ranging from Asian Noodles to New England seafood.

 

I appreciated the fancy food hall feel with a mix of local artisan restaurants and felt that many people here weren’t actually gamblers but drawn by the food.

When I first approached the casino floor, I noticed nobody was checking for I.D. There were a lot of roulette tables and plenty of people getting excited over a marble and a wheel.

There were a handful of people dressed casually in tees, shorts and sandals working the slots with all the bells and whistles to keep them engaged and playing.

Springfield didn’t feel stuffy like some other MGM casinos such as National Harbor just outside of D.C. It was more working class here and less opulence.

One major difference was the $25 minimums compared to $100 in Oxon Hill. Many people could easily spend $25 for dinner but it would take dinner and drinks for two to reach $100.

The other difference is the prevalence of Spanish 21 which are 48 card decks without the Tens.

 

I also heard that from 6-9am, the minimums were only $5 – which became a great incentive to stick around for the entire night and gamble while most people are getting up for work.

I found a spot behind a boisterous crowd playing Blackjack. There were a couple of friends and other strangers converged around the table that they had just met. Either way, there was light conversation which made Blackjack quite a social game.

I was cheering on some newbies and applauded when they actually beat the House. On the other side of the table, I was watching the guy lose hand after hand. Every hand he would go into a large hissy fit and complain about how unfair it was.

Blackjack has the best odds in gambling and very little skill is required. Beginners stand the same chance of winning as experts. They just have to know a few basic rules and adopt a good strategy to beat the House.

 
 
 
 

When the clock struck midnight, I downed my last Tsing Tao and headed out the door to the warm summer night. It was an easy five blocks to my truck where I immediately crawled into my rack and rested peacefully until 7 when the morning commuters started rolling into town.

It would be an easy drive and I had a long time to get to New Jersey. It would be a good day, or so I thought. I was hoping for the best, but planning for another hectic day in trucking.

 

I returned to Hull at the end of October for my trial.

Call me nuts, but the water in Natasket Beach in late October really isn’t too cold to go for a dip. Yes cold water can put you in immediate shock and kill quickly. It could make your limbs heavy, and you can aspirate water and drown.

But as long as you gradually ease in, splashing water on myself as I acclimate to the frigid domain. From shallow to knee deep, than to my private parts, and then let the roaring surf do the rest. Hopefully the ambient air temp is moderate because you’ll probably be shaking like a leaf in a no’easter once you come out.

If there’s a strong breeze, you’ll see a clan of surfers donned in black wetsuits, catching a wave amidst a flock of seagulls keeping watch. The brisk ocean breeze fills my lungs. I contemplate whether I should take a dip. I take the brave step and am quickly rewarded by the wonderful sensation of energy-boosting water.

Nantasket Beach is known to have an extreme range of tide of 12.5 feet. Low tide is so wide, you can go for a walk or run and not run into anyone. But at high tide, the water comes up to the seawall.

There’s something about blue water that gives me a tranquil feeling deep and down inside.

I can go for a swim, or a 3-mile run on the beach and get the same feeling. That’s probably why I’ve been riding on top of the world, spending my nights sleeping in my cab, 50 yards from the roaring surf, it’s soothing waves rocking me to sleep.

 

IX The Trial

The Court: Trial matter. Commonwealth versus Chito Peppler

Commonwealth: Good afternoon, Your Honor. Molly MacKinnon for the Commonwealth. Judge, the Commonwealth will be calling two witnesses and would agree to a sequestration of the witnesses

Oh my goodness, I’m so glad this case is finally happening. Having to drive the 455 miles here in my semi truck  was expensive, and it’s over $100 in tolls. Glad both witnesses showed up, so it won’t be rescheduled.

The Court:  All right. I should discuss with you the fact that you have chosen to waive counsel, sir. This is not a felony – it’s a charge of disturbing the peace. I gather it is a criminal offense, but you would not qualify for counsel in this case because 8there’s no chance of you going to the House of Correction. The penalty is only $150 fine. You could retain counsel. People who choose to represent themselves are at often times viewed as a disadvantage because they may not know the rules of evidence and court proceedings. Do you want to hire your own lawyer or do you want to represent yourself, sir?

The Defense: I would like to represent myself.

Why wouldn’t I.  I have lots of experience representing myself in Landlord Tenant and Small Claims courts in DC.

The state’s first witness was Ms. Snyed, the manager at Marylou’s.

Q: How long have you been working at Marylou’s

A: I’ve been with the company for four years, but only been managing that store for four months.

Q: Would like to direct your attention on the events of July 12th. Do you remember that day?

A: So a gentleman had come in. He bought a coffee and then proceeded to a counter where customers can sit down. And he started setting up a computer. He wasn’t really sitting down. He was walking around. His behavior was very — it made us uncomfortable. So then he proceeded to put a phone on our pastry counter with the camera facing towards us.  So it was an immediate red flag on my part. And the employee I was working with had informed me that he had already been in there once and took pictures of the girls. So I called my boss and said, you know, is it okay if I call the police, and they said, yeah, that’s fine. So I called the police because he just — we got a very eerie feeling about him being there.

When he first like set up the computer  — it was a red flag. People don’t do that. They don’t come in and sit. They usually just get their coffee and leave, so that was a red flag at first. And then when he didn’t sit down, he just kept walking 19 around the store.

I’m like okay, weird. If you’re going to use your computer, you usually sit at it. And then when he put the phone on the counter with the camera facing us, I had no idea if he was recording us. I didn’t know what he was doing. So it got a little  weird.

Next was the cross examination.  I was look forward to asking Ms. Sneyd questions and it appeared she did not expect me to be questioning her/ Yes, Ms. Sneyd. Okay. The first question I have for you is on your written testimony to the police department. You  mentioned that your boss had called the police on July the 3rd; is that correct?

A Yes, because I know there was an incident that happened on July 3rd and they had asked him to leave at that point as well.

Q  Okay. Do you have proof that someone from Marylou’s contacted the Rockland Police on July the 3rd?

A I was not there, no. But I was informed  because it is my store.

So either the corporate manager lied to her, or she lied to dispatch that they had previously called 911, or both. What would be the argument for calling 911? You only do that if someone’s safety,  health or property is in danger.  And you typically try to diffuse the situation before calling the police.

Q Okay. I was given as evidence the CDs for the 9-1-1 call So you told the 911 dispatcher that the police were called before when that was not the case. “What is my race? Am I White?”

A: No, you’re not.

Q: Then why did you describe me to dispatch as caucasian?” You had an issue with me placing the phone on the danish counter.  Why didn’t you just come and tell me this. That’s your job as manager, not to call the police.

Next I cross examined Officer Gilcoine.

Defense:

Q: So when you and the other officers arrived, what happened?

A: “We asked to see your ID.”

Q: “I refused to show my ID because Massachusetts is not a Stop and ID state and I had not done anything wrong. I did provide my name thought.”

A: “I didn’t hear him state his name.”

Q: Were you shown the picture that I took on July 3rd.

A: I was shown a website.

Q: Are you familiar with Google Street View?

A: Yes

Q: Great. So you realize that with Google Street View you can see the inside of places, restaurants, museums – which is tied to seeing the outside.

A: Yes.

Q: When you looked at the photo did you realize that there’s a name on the corner of the photography?

A: No, I did not.

Perhaps the police should try to listen and research more before becoming too aggressive and making an arrest.

Q: Have you ever taken a picture inside a restaurant?

A: Yes, I have.

Q: Then what was the big deal about the defendant taking pictures?

A: Because he had done this before.

Q: Regarding the no trespass order, why were you insistent on filling it out? When I read the no trespass order, it is actually signed by Kaitlyn Sneyd, the manager of Marylou’s can write the no trespass order exclusively. Is that correct?

A: We were insistent because the police were called the week before.

There was no previous call. This was the first time the police was ever called on the defendant.

Again, there’s no proof of this. You’re going with what the manager said, and there’s no proof of this.

Q: You mentioned this was the second call. So the previous call was allegedly made a week before on July 3rd. How do you know this?

A: Because the dispatcher told us this.

Q: Well that information actually came from Ms. Snyed who lied to the dispatcher.

Officer Gilcoine shrugged his shoulders.

Q; Did I ever ask to leave the premises?

A: Yes, but we would not let you until we get your ID.

Q: Isn’t Massachusetts not a Stop and ID state?

No answer.  The police need to be knowledgeable about the law in their own state, something which  I was, and  I don’t even live there.

If you’re not aware what the law is in Massachusetts – there’s no legal requirement to show an ID unless you’re driving a motor vehicle. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires warrants to be supported by probable cause.

Q; Then why not just let me leave the premises and ask for my ID outside the coffee shop?  After all I would be heading to my truck, where I’m legally required to show you my ID when asked.

The Court:

First: That the defendant engaged in conduct which most people would find to be unreasonably disruptive, such as (making loud and disturbing noise) (tumultuous or offensive conduct) (hurling objects in a populated area) (threatening, quarreling, fighting, or challenging others to fight) (uttering personal insults that amount to fighting words, that is, are so offensive that they are inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction); Second: That the defendant’s actions were done intentionally, and not by accident or mistake; and Third: That the defendant did in fact annoy or disturb at least one person.

I could imagine a picture of a looter destroying a storefront during a riot

The Court:

To amount to disturbing the peace, the defendant’s acts must have been voluntary, unnecessary, and contrary to normal standards of conduct. You should consider all the circumstances, including such important Instruction.  Factors as time and location, in determining whether the defendant disturbed the tranquility of at least one person in that area, or interfered with at least one person’s normal activity.

Court: So the defense did not disturb the peace. You are free to go.

“Thank you your Honor!” I clenched my fist in victory – I was so glad I stuck it out and was ready to hit the beach and celebrate.