GTA is Grand Theft Auto - The act of stealing a car.

I was once arrested for Grand Theft Auto. It was the summer of 97, I was 17 and on drugs, and it was one of the most wonderful and exhilarating experiences of my life. I'm not gonna lie to you and tell you I felt really bad, or that it was scary or that I was embarrassed. I loved every second of it, I wish I could do it again, and I think everyone should have a similar experience.

Of course, when you're 17 with no priors and good grades in school and you previously worked at Fry's Electronics, well, the judicial system goes pretty easy on you.

Let me describe the event to you. It was the middle of the night when 4 or 5 hooligan teenagers pulled up in front of a house. One of them was a runaway girl who had previously lived in that house. She snuck in the back door, stole her mom's purse, took the keys to the family van, and drove away in it.

This van full of kids now pulls up to a vacant apartment where I'm sleeping and watching over our other friend who just overdosed on heroin. She's okay now after a vomiting session and a nice sleep.

We all pile into the van, and decide we're going to escape to Big Bear, this quiet little town up in the mountains. Unfortunately none of us really know how to drive, no one knows how to get to Big Bear, and instead we end up in Lakewood, a shitty little spot on the map in between Long Beach and BFE.

We pick up another hooligan in Lakewood who volunteers to be our driver, and as the sun is rising we put $1.00 into the gas tank and take off down the freeway.

I fall asleep in the back.

I wake up to the sound of sirens behind us and kids screaming "Are they after US?" A short argument ensues where we try to decide whether to run and get in a high speed pursuit, or pull over and cut our losses. We're on a freeway overpass right now. Marilyn Manson is playing in the tape deck at full volume.

We decide to pull over. We look back and there's 4 cop cars, 2 motorcycle cops, 4 shotguns, 1 handgun, and a megaphone behind us.

"Everyone put your hands in the air!"

We oblige.

"Will the driver lower his left hand to open the door."

He did it.

"Will the driver please step out of the vehicle."

He doesn't move.

"Get out of the vehicle!!!" They yell at him.

"I'm wearing a seatbelt!" Our driver yells back at them. Of course they hadn't given him directions for how to deal with that. It turns out all 8 of us were wearing a seatbelt, so the cops had to walk us through detailed movements for removing it every time they talked someone out of the van.

It was my turn now. "The Beautiful People" by Marilyn Manson was blasting in my ears. I got out of the van and started to walk backwards towards the cops with my hands in the air. I saw to my right that someone had stopped their car and gotten out and they were videotaping this whole thing. I smiled for the camera.

Next thing I knew they'd thrown me to the ground, my face was being pressed into the asphalt of the freeway, and the Marilyn Manson in my ears was now accompanied by a shotgun in the back of my neck. A fucking adrenaline rush and a half. You'll never get an experience like that. The whole freeway was shut down for us. Cars were being redirected. People were hanging out of their windows waving and screaming at us. The guy with a video camera got a ticket. A helicopter was overhead. And my buddy Marilyn was the soundtrack for it all.

In the end her parents didn't press charges, they put her in a mental hospital, and my dad had to drive out to San Bernardino to pick me up, but he bought me a pack of cigarettes for the first time in my life. I guess he figured I needed it after that "terrifying" experience.

Hah! That cigarette was better than any post-sex cigarette I've ever had.

God I wish I was a career criminal instead of a Quality Assurance Analyst.

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