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Fri, Oct. 18

Graham: You’re never too old to embarrass yourself

All of us have secrets, things we hope never come to light, things we would rather keep from our bosses, our co-workers, and even our friends.

Despite our best efforts, however, sometimes these things are exposed, uncovered. This often leads to embarrassment and requires reflection on how we reached this point in our lives and the choices we have made.

In an effort to be open with my reader(s), I want to share a recent experience that featured all of the usual elements of a tale of woe: a late night, a car, and as these revelations often do, the police.

I do this in hope that my openness can help others. Maybe they will rethink their actions before things end with flashing lights.

It had been a long night at work, part of a long week. When I walked out the back door of the newspaper office in Prescott Valley after midnight, I just wanted to unwind. By the time I reached downtown Prescott, if I had the ability to take a step back and examine the situation, I probably could have seen the end result coming.

I could not have been more obvious if I had been driving with a spotlight on top of my car: a little too slow going down the street, a little too long at stop signs, a few too many stops along the side of the road. Classic missteps. I gave Prescott Police Sgt. Jack Shapiro no other choice than to introduce himself into my night, much to my chagrin.

I wish I could say this was the first time I have seen the blue and red lights of the law in the back window of my car, but it had been a while. Still, the situation was familiar enough that I knew the routine of license, insurance and registration. And in the time it took the officer to reach my vehicle, I decided I wasn’t going to try to hide anything. It was a time for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

So I rolled down the window and looked up at Sgt. Shapiro and spilled the beans when he explained why he had stopped me asked me what I was doing. “Playing Pokémon Go, sir,” I said, showing him my phone.

It actually felt good to make that confession, even if I did it with a sheepish grin on my face. The best part was the look on Sgt. Shapiro’s face, a mixture of surprise, wonder and amusement. Probably the same look you would give a cousin if they told you they spend all their money collecting “Saved by the Bell” trading cards.

Now I will say I came to Pokémon Go late in the game; it made its debut in July 2016. I started just last month after my family had a kind of an intervention while I was visiting Oklahoma. They all have the app on their phones and sometimes pile into a vehicle and drive the streets of Tulsa, searching for Pokémon characters, Pokestops and gyms to increase their playing levels.

They told me I would enjoy the game, that it would give me an activity to fill some of my spare time add and a common activity to help us stay connected since I have moved so far away.

It turned out they were right on all accounts, but as a 55-year-old grandfather I did feel a little out of place playing the game, which led to me keeping it from the people at my office. I imagine they would react with the same look Sgt. Shapiro gave me.

To the sergeant’s credit, he did run my information through the normal checks before handing my license and documents back to me and asking me to drive safe. I assured him I always follow the rules of the road while playing. I drive a route that includes several Pokestops and gyms. I always stop and park before picking up my phone; no cruising for the occasional Pokémon characters along the way.

So my secret is out. You might even see me walking around the county courthouse plaza, which is chock-full of good spots to snag a Pokémon. Please feel free to poke fun at me if our paths should cross; I have a good sense of humor and the ability to laugh at myself. But be careful not to push things too far; I might have a Tyranitar on my side.

Doug Graham is Community Editor with The Daily Courier. He can be reached at dgraham@prescottaz.com.

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