Skateboarding Is Not a Crime

With his fellow junior high hoodlums, a young Pat Mesiti-Miller hits the streets of Santa Cruz on skateboard, looking for mischief. Mischief is found, and a mad dash to escape follows.

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GLYNN WASHINGTON, HOST:

Welcome back to SNAP JUDGMENT from PRX and NPR. "The Rage Against The Machine" episode. My name is Glynn Washington. And for our next story, a young Pat Mesiti-Miller. He had his own beef with the machine. You kids let this story be a good lesson to you. Pat, tell us how it went down.

PAT MESITI-MILLER, BYLINE: Back in junior high, we were all, like, little skater punks - skater kids, right? And when we used to go skate, it was like 20, 30 little kids. It was like a flood of skaters coming down the street. You could hear us from blocks away. It was like...

(RUMBLING)

MESITI-MILLER: ...Every day after school until the sun went down. We were unruly. And we just kind of did whatever we wanted - didn't care if the people yelled at us. We used to pull pranks on people - mess with their businesses. It was a bunch of dumb mischief all the time - mischief. So one day, it was me, Tommy and Jared. And Jared was the best skater. He ended up being pro. And so we were skating one day. And near the junior high there was a roller-skating rink. Behind it, there was an alleyway that we used to skate through. And what they used to do is they would wax the floor of the roller-skating rink and then open the backdoors to air it out. We come through the alleyway, and we see that the backdoor's open. And so I walk over, peek my head in. And it's just glossy, pristine hardwood floor. Fresh wax. And I'm like, oh, fellas, let's go skate. So we jump over the little guardrail. And we're floating on the rink. It's just like the smoothest, cleanest, slickest surface my skate wheels had ever touched before. We were like synchronized skating - carving around, sliding, laughing, having all kinds of fun. And so we're coming around a lap, curving the bend, and I hear a door bust open.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What the hell are you little kids doing?

MESITI-MILLER: I look up, and it was this pregnant woman screaming, cussing us and stuff. And, like, she was, like, super pregnant. Like, she was about to burst she was so pregnant. So I'm thinking, like, OK, she is not going to be able to catch us. And you can't walk on the rink because it's just freshly waxed and it's all slick. And so the woman - she runs out the front. We jump out of the back door and book it, going as fast as we can - pushing, peddling, hopping curbs, jumping down driveways, all that stuff. And we make it down like 10 blocks away from the rink to a skate spot that we used to frequent. It was like this ledge in front of this guy's house. And when we get to the skate spot, we hear...

(CAR SCREECHING)

MESITI-MILLER: ...Come around and - I kid you not - a white Suburban comes, like, fishtailing around the corner. We were like, oh, damn. Like, what is that about? And then it guns it towards us. This is a neighborhood - residential area, you know? And it's going like 40, 50, 60 miles-an-hour, slamming. And it comes right up and just - err - stops in front of us. And then boom - out pops the pregnant woman. And she's like, I saw you doing that. You're the kids who've been skating in that roller rink. I got you, stop. Don't move. Don't go anywhere. The cops are on their way. You're busted. I was like, what do you mean? She's like, oh, I know what you did. I saw all three of you in there.

(SIRENS)

MESITI-MILLER: Cops come. There's three of us so they want to split us up so we don't talk to each other. Jared gets taken one way. And he looks back at me and gives me a nod. He knows the drill. Tommy gets taken the other way, and we lock eyes and I'm like, OK, we got this. We got this. So the cop starts questioning me. And I just start lying through my teeth right from the jump, no wishy-washy about it. My story is this. I'm like, we've been here the whole time just skating the curb. This guy, Greg, this is his house. We skate here all the time after school. You can knock on the door. He'll vouch for us. We've been here for hours. We didn't do anything wrong. Like, this lady's just a nut. She got in her car and started driving around, found the first kids on skateboards and that's us. I had the cops wrapped up like a gift. They were like you're OK, kid. Like, it's just wrong place wrong time. And then the other cop comes up, and he's, like, asking me a couple questions, thinks he's slick. And then he says, well, what if I told you that next to the roller-skating rink, there used to be a bank. And at the bank, they used to have a camera. What if I told you that camera's still running? If I go back and get the tapes from that camera, am I going to see you guys on it? And I was like, go check them out, man. You're not going to see us on there. That's for certain. Whoever it was - I don't know who it was - but it's not going to be us 'cause we didn't do that. We've been here. And I was like, one - there did used to be a bank back there but it's an ice cream shop. And I'm pretty sure the bank, after it moved, didn't decide that they might as well just keep the surveillance camera in the parking lot or whatever. Like, they're not - he was bluffing. Cops split us up. And so my one friend, Tommy, he was across the street. And when the cop is walking over there, I'm like, oh, no, he's going to give him the camera trick. And so I kind of, like, waved at him. And, like, the cop looks back at me and I'm like...

(WHISTLING)

MESITI-MILLER: ...Hiding my hands like I wasn't trying to wave him down. And then when the cops have their back to me, I started giving him the movie sign from charades, right? And say, no, no, don't do it. There's no camera. There's no camera. They're lying. There's no camera. And then I'll never forget his face. He looks up at the cop, and then looks over at me. Then looks up at the cop, and then looks at me. And he looks up at the cop, and then he bursts into tears. Just, like, full on crying, tears running down his cheeks, screaming, high-pitched voice - the whole thing. And I'm like, man, it's done. How are you just going to cry? And it was, like - it was, like, at the age where it's, like, you're too old to be crying. You know what I mean? Can't be crying. But he was wailing. He came clean. He told him that we were the kids who were in there. And so we were busted. He blew it. He blew it for all three of us. And they got him with the camera line. And they wrote us tickets for vandalism. And the pregnant woman grinning ear to ear. She, like, had her arms folded and was shifting her weight back and forth. And just, like, you little punks. That's what you get. Just super happy that we were getting in trouble. Part of the deal was we had to go back to the roller-skating rink and do, like, 40 hours of community service. Forty hours of that summer I spent scraping paint off the roller Palladium's walls. Skating rink is still there. Oh, and I think I'm permanently, indefinitely, forever banned from the skating rink. They told me that I'm never allowed to go in there again for the rest of my life. They have, like, a little mug shot of me when I'm a little kid or something behind the counter. Don't rent skates to this guy. It was stupid.

(MUSIC)

WASHINGTON: Thank you, Pat. SNAP JUDGMENT legal insists that we note Pat no longer engages in wanton property damage, obeys all local laws and regulations and is, in fact, a productive, taxpaying member of society. Dually noted.

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