My favorite mailbox stood at the end of a long gravel driveway leading to a rundown house in the middle of nowhere. My friends and I knew someone lived there because we'd smash it flat every Saturday night, but it was always fixed the next week.
Then one Saturday night, things didn't work out as planned.
We had all the ingredients we needed for an entertaining night: my dad's car, aluminum baseball bats, loud music and the five of us guys. As I pulled out of Ben's* driveway, we were eager to get started.
After hitting three or four mailboxes, we drove out to our old favorite. I turned off the lights and stopped the car in the middle of the deserted road. Three of us got out. I was the first one to strike. One after the other, we delivered blows to the top of the mailbox to completely flatten it.
We ran back to the car and pulled away. We were still laughing when Eric said, "Someone's coming up behind us."
I wasn't worried. I sped up—just to be safe.
"They're coming really fast!" Eric said in a near panic.
Now I got worried. I barely stopped at the stop sign, then turned left. We watched in disbelief as the pickup truck behind us didn't stop at all, gaining rapidly. I took another left onto a narrow and hilly back road, and the truck followed, still gaining. I knew this particular road very well. My youth pastor lived on it. As I raced by his home with my speedometer inching over 80, we soared over each hill.
"I'm not going down for this!" Jeremy yelled from the backseat. "We're all going to die!"
"Shut up!" Ben yelled at him.
I told them to put on their seatbelts. I sped through another stop sign, skidding as I made a sharp left turn. I slid off the road, barely missing a tree, bounced in and out of a ditch and landed back on the road. But I couldn't lose our pursuer. I even tried driving with my lights off. But still, he kept right on me. Finally, I turned onto a road that was mostly hidden.
My friends cheered when we saw the truck miss the turn behind us. I was flooded with relief. Calmly, we drove to Jeremy's house, where we were all staying the night.
It wasn't long, though, before two police officers showed up at Jeremy's. They said the driver of the truck had written down my license plate number. I found out later that the driver was the house's closest neighbor. He'd been fixing that mailbox every weekend, so he had been very determined to track down the culprits. After he called the police, the officers talked to my parents about where to find me.
After I confessed, the cops were silent and then one said, "Do you know who lives in that house?" I said I didn't.
"An old woman lives there with her mentally handicapped son," the first officer told me.
"Is that your idea of fun? Smashing an old woman's mailbox?"
"No," I answered with my head down, even though that had been exactly my idea of fun before I knew the mailbox belonged to an old lady and her handicapped son. Never before had I given any thought to the person whose mailbox we always smashed.
"Well, you're lucky it's not up to me," the first officer continued. "She doesn't want to press charges. She just wants you to buy her a new mailbox and put it up for her. Oh, and you need to call her and apologize."