Top 10 Reasons I would make a Lousy Bishop

3. I Tend to Get in Trouble

I do. I got in trouble in school. I got in trouble in college. I got in trouble in seminary. I got in trouble during my sabbatical when I entered Hearst Castle somewhat late in the evening. I thought it would be a good idea to joust with the palace whilst on my motorcycle and then write about it-kind of like I’m doing now. Well, the imagining is always different from the reality. I came to my senses just a little way in and waited on the park police to come find me. They did. They gave me a DUI check (negative}, ignored all the burnt matches on the asphalt by my bike, and gave me a ticket which I ignored for a year while I was depressed and unemployed, which meant I had to go to court in San Luis Obispo, which meant I had to have a conversation with a judge that went something like this (true story-dialogue only a little hyped):

SAP: Your Honor, may I address the bench?

JUDGE: Of course.

SAP: Your Honor, I’m prepared to plead guilty to the trespassing charge, but before I do that, I wonder if I might take some of the court’s time to explain a little bit about what happened.

JUDGE: [At this point, the older jurist looks up from the mountain of DUI reports in front of me, finds me standing in a crowded court room, removes his glasses and starts chewing on the temples. I’m banking on the fact that he’s not used to someone speaking on their own behalf. Most of the folks there (I know, because I was in rehab with them and heard about their legal problems that made mine look like kid stuff) had an attorney doing their bidding]
By all means. Pleas proceed, says the Judge.

SAP: Your Honor, I am an Episcopal priest in Arizona. I ran into a bit of trouble with burn-out and a mid-life crisis that I mistakenly treated with marijuana. During a sabbatical from a stressful job, I entered Hearst castle after hours. The large gates came open late at night, letting out several catering trucks. I entered the park and slid by the turnstile on my moto. I did no injury to it, sir. I simply wanted to ride about, accompanied by the full moon on a glorious summer night in one of your state’s finest parks.

JUDGE: Interesting, How far did you get? [He’s hooked!.I says to myself, I’m walking out of here with a governor’s pardon and a state voucher for my mobatel room and bacon cheeseburger at Denny’s]

SAP: Truth be told Your Honor, not as far as I would have liked. I decided to stop my motor vehicle and rested on the side of the road until state police found me.

JUDGE. I see. [His tone gives me pause at this point in conversation. I think I could have misinterpreted his initial response to my errant adventure]

SAP: May it please the court, I’d like you to know that at no point was I argumentative with the park police. I cooperated fully.

Judge: That’s good to hear. They do a good job for us out there.

SAP: Indeed they do, sir, indeed they do. Please know, Your Honor, I’ve been through a month-long rehab program in Palm Springs. I’m now a school teacher. Yes. Yes I am, sir. I am a school teacher now.

JUDGE: {[Here’s where I start to lose confidence. He leans back in his high-backed judge chair and puts his glasses back on]
You know, wasn’t that long ago that they had dogs around those parts. Not sure about the breed, maybe pit. I just don’t recall. I do remember this. You sure didn’t want to get sideways with those pooches.

SAP: No, Your Honor, I imagine you didn’t. [Not good. Sounds like a cautionary tale]

JUDGE: I remember something about some poor soul getting chewed up pretty good. They may have got him. I can’t recall. [In his comment, he’s veiled a comment, some subliminal message to me that I wasn’t astute to fully decipher]

SAP: Is that right, Sir? I had no idea.

Judge: [He turns his head away from me, leans over his exalted judges bench and speaks to the attractive young assistant DA who is probably fresh out of law school, paying her dues prosecuting DUI and clergy trespass cases. I sense I have not made the same impression on her as I thought I initially had on His Honor]
Ms Davenport, says the Judge, Will the State agree to la, la, lalala, la, la, la in the case of Mr.Polley–vs–The State of California?
[Ms. Davenport agreed, unhappily, to the terms. I sensed she wanted more blood from me. I also sensed the recollection of my escapade did not charmed her as it did the judge. I went with my strengths and gift for communicating. Me and the Judge were shoot’n the shit about Joust’n with The Castle.
Granted, we shot the shit in the midst of a courtroom packed with lawyers and defendants-other interested parties- who were there for some serious offenses, including felony DUI. My adventure had interested the judge enough that he gave me a break. Given the bench warrant with my name on it, he couldn’t let me walk away. He did hit me with a hefty $600 fine. But he required no community service and no return visit to SLObispo to check up on my sobriety. I’m still waiting for the Denny’s voucher]

I get in trouble, but I usually get through it. I get in trouble in my new job, too. I got in trouble last year for telling 8th grade students from rural Arizona that I smoked pot, lost my job, went to rehab, and became a high-school teacher. It probably didn’t help that I jokingly told one of the 8th grade boys that I would fight him if he didn’t come to our high school. This is where open enrollment leads, friends. It’s a slippery slope.

I think I seek out trouble a little (probably has to do with reasons 6&7) and would have probably gotten into trouble as a bishop. Jesus got in trouble. Didn’t turn out well for him. I don’t think he got in trouble because he sought it out. I think he got in trouble because of who he was and how he lived his life and his need to be helpful and tell the truth. If I get in trouble, I hope it’s for the right reasons.

Author: Seth Polley

I live in southeastern Arizona where I teach high school history. My home is very close to US/MX border and the border and the countries it divides are very close to my heart. For a little over twenty years, I served the Episcopal church as a priest, but now I work as a teacher. I use sethpolley.com for my writing website, but I also have another site, seteoblog.wordpress.com where I write a blog. At this point in my writing career I have received a couple of honorable mentions in writing contests, and have self-published two short monographs. I'm planning on continuing to write and look forward to the time when I can devote more time to it. Thanks for visiting.

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