For years now I’ve had this one story about why I can never be a criminal. Now I have two, and I need to share them both before I forget.
I attended college twice, once in the eighties and again in the nineties where I went back to upgrade my skills.
In the eighties I wore t-shirts and a ragged sports jacket with jeans and runners. I was young. I was also clean shaven and had long hair down to the middle of my back. My name at the time was Joel Bush.
By the time I returned in the nineties I had a beard and shaved my head. I wore button down shirts, a leather jacket, and combat boots. I had also changed my last name to Palenychka, the name I was born with. I was married and had tattoos on my arms. I’d also gained something like fifty pounds.
The first day back in college I walked across the street to the little convenience store that’s been there for decades. The very moment I walked in the clerk recognized me and asked if I was there for my usual diet coke.
It was at that moment that I realized I could never be a criminal. The witness would have to be completely blind to be unable to pick me out of a police lineup.
A few days ago at work I had a customer come up to the till with his liquor purchase and he gave me a real odd look.
“Don’t I know you from somewhere?”
His face didn’t ring any bells for me so I just kind of half shrugged.
“Is your name Joel?”
I looked down at my name tag. There was no denying it so I nodded.
“You ever work at McDonalds?”
I laughed at that and said “Not for over thirty years. Not since I was a kid.”
He nodded and said “Yeah, yeah, that’s where I know you from! We worked at McDonalds together, in Marlborough.”
He then gave me his name and I remembered it, although his face wasn’t as familiar. He mentioned a few other names and they rang faint bells but I couldn’t remember what they’d looked like.
This is just further confirmation that I could never succeed as a criminal. Shave my head, grow a beard, change my clothes, gain a hundred pounds, and give me a bunch of tattoos, and people will still recognize me thirty five years later.