By Jordan W. Charness

“You’ll never believe it,” Peter said. “Let me tell you about this guy I heard about, he’s sort of like a friend a mine. He’s not really a good friend, but I do sort of know him.”

“Stop beating around the bush,” I said, “or you’ll make me think that this mystery friend is really you in disguise.”

“No, really,” he exclaimed. “When you hear these facts, you’ll know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it could not have been me. This guy actually got into more trouble than I ever will.”

The build-up certainly got my attention, so I said, “Please tell me all about it.”

Peter’s story really was a good one, and once you hear about it, you too will be fairly sure that it didn’t happen to Peter.

Peter’s friend (or acquaintance), whom he decided to call Mark, ran into the following difficulties. He borrowed a friend’s car and was driving down the street just a little bit too fast. This not being his lucky day, he had a flat tire while driving, which caused him to crash into the sidewalk and knock down a telephone pole.

Banging into the telephone pole didn’t do the borrowed car any good, and to top it all off, Mark thought that he’d broken his leg. His arm was not in very good shape either, and his nose was bleeding. Sitting in the borrowed broken car with a possible broken leg and bloody nose, Mark thought that his luck could not get any worse — but it did.

The police and an ambulance were called. The police were very kind, helped him out of the car, and asked how he was; the ambulance paramedics ascertained that his leg wasn’t broken, but his arm was dislocated and his nose was definitely bleeding.

Just as they got his nose to stop bleeding and cleaned him up, the police began to ask their usual questions. The first one was fairly simple: “What is your name?”

“Evan,” Mark answered. When the police politely requested to see a copy of his registration, Mark answered, “I don’t have it with me.”

“Is the car yours?” they wanted to know; he replied, “Sort of.”

At this point, the police were starting to get suspicious. Once again they asked his name, and Mark answered, “Trevor.” Now the police were fairly sure that Mark was not telling the truth, and told him that unless he came clean, he would be in big trouble. And big trouble indeed he was in.

As it turned out, Trevor/Evan/Mark wasn’t telling the truth because he was afraid it might get him arrested; lying to the police made it happen.

When the truth finally came out, Mark admitted that he had lied for several reasons. In the first place, Mark did not have a driver’s license. It’s not that he had lost it due to an accumulation of points or for committing a criminal driving offense, but rather, he had never earned a license.

In addition, the car was not his; it belonged to his girlfriend, who usually let him drive it. This time, however, he had taken it without permission; although he was sure she would have let him if he had asked, this time he just didn’t bother.

His girlfriend was furious when she heard that her brand-new car was wrapped around a telephone pole, and told police that as far as she was concerned, the car had been stolen. She always assumed that Mark had a valid driver’s license but never checked.

Mark had decided not to give the police his real name because, in addition to not having a driver’s license and borrowing his girlfriend’s car without permission, Mark was not a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant. He was just in Canada on a visitor’s permit, and the period of his visit had long since expired.

Mark thought mistakenly that if he did not tell the police who he was, they would let him go; instead, they arrested him and charged him with several offenses.

Mark was charged with obstruction, a Criminal Code offense reserved for those who lie to the police and try to stop them from properly doing their jobs. He was also charged with driving without a valid driver’s license, dangerous driving and causing damage to property.

Since the police were so angry with him, they also charged him with theft of an automobile, even though his girlfriend changed her mind. She admitted that if she had been asked, she would indeed have lent him the car. The police were not convinced and decided to let the judge deal with all the charges at once.

The day couldn’t get any worse, or so Mark thought, but it deteriorated when the police towed his girlfriend’s car away, since it had been driven by a driver who did not have a valid driver’s license. His girlfriend would have to deal with the problem of getting her car back.

In due course, the girlfriend would claim that if Mark had been charged with theft, she should not be penalized by having her car taken away. The authorities eventually agreed with her and returned the car.

Mark, however, was not so lucky. In addition to facing all the criminal charges, Canadian immigration officials were also called into the case. Once he pays his debt to society, he will be deported from Canada and asked never to return.

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