This is a short excerpt from Ejection Eddie, a ten page chapter in the book Fearless Puppy on American Road. In it, Eddie gets ejected from several places that humans are usually never thrown out of, including the US Army draft board during the Vietnam era, a secured lock-up ward in a psychiatric hospital, and a jail.
BEGINNING OF CHAPTER
Certain hitchhiking rides have delivered me to realizations as well as physical destinations. Ejection Eddie was one of these.
“Welcome to my vehicle. I’m Ejection Eddie. Who are you?”
I felt a funny punch line coming on, but it didn’t seem smart to joke around with a guy who called himself “Ejection” until I knew why he did so.
I got right to it. “Everyone calls me Ten, but that’s obviously not the name on the birth certificate. Your mom didn’t pick the name Ejection for you, did she? Do they call you that because you have one of those James Bond car seats that ejects passengers?”
Ed answered with a pleasant smile and friendly tone. “Indeed not, my friend. There has never yet been a need to eject anyone from this vehicle—and judging by your relatively pleasant demeanor, my streak of uninterrupted hospitality won’t have to end here. However, my mom did have something to do with both parts of my name. Of course, she was directly responsible for the Eddie part. She was also indirectly responsible for the first of my no doubt record-breaking streak of ejections, from which the Ejection part of my name was born. She put me into a mental hospital at the tender age of seventeen because I smoked pot. The hospital eventually threw me out. I have, in total, been ejected from two mental institutions, the U.S. Army draft board during the height of the Vietnam War, a jail, and several lesser venues that ordinarily pride themselves on maintaining long term possessive relationships with their clientele.”
ENDING OF THE CHAPTER
The nurse said that she would give my note to the newspapers. Whether she ever did is questionable. Armed guards brought me back to the jail. They deposited me in my own special isolation cell, probably figuring that my next move could be to incite a riot. Within a few hours of my return, the head of the whole county’s jail industry/system came to my private digs. At her request, the guards left us alone in the cell.
She got right to the point. “You’re making a lot of noise for just one guy. What’s going on?”
She got the full Eddie account of the problems I had witnessed in her facility, including my little personal problem of being locked up for seven days without access to a lawyer. A lawyer seemed necessary to repair the nonsense responsible for my being in this hellhole. She listened.
“I’ll see what I can find out,” she said as she left.
Forty minutes later, guards came to my cell and escorted me to the front desk. They advised me that I was free to go.
I asked if they were toying with me. “Hitchhiking is still my only way out of here. Are we going to have to go through all this again down the road?” I asked. Hey, you never know what these guys could be setting you up for.
The guard answered with such a seriously apologetic tone that he couldn’t have been lying. “All police personnel have been notified about your case, sir. You can, within the legal limits, go to wherever you want to go, using whatever means you want to use to get there, and do whatever you want to do within this county. We’re not going to bother you again, sir.”
I smiled. “Thanks, brother.”
The guard looked up and smiled back at me. He seemed touched by the fact that after all that had happened, perhaps the most difficult prisoner of his career would be calling him brother.
He spoke to me in a gentle tone. “I am going to think about some of the things you said while you were here. A lot of it was right, I think.” The guard returned my shoelaces and belt as he offered his free hand for me to shake.
I shook his hand. “Thank Bobby Sands, my friend. He’s the one who gave me the hunger strike idea.”
“Who’s Bobby Sands? We don’t have any Bobby Sands locked up in here. Where’s he from?” asked the puzzled guard.
As he opened the last set of doors between the jail and my freedom, the guard promised to read up on the man considered a saint by many Irish folks (although he is certainly not as popular with others).
About a hundred yards after my release, a police car pulled over. From its open window, the officer asked, “Which way are you going, Ed?”
“Headed into town, officer. Same place as eight days ago.” The officer nodded. “Hop in. You’ve got a ride.” And that, my friend, is the story of how Ejection Eddie got thrown out of the military draft, two mental hospitals, and a jail—and how he earned his name.
I was struck by his stories and told him so. “Ed, no one I’ve ever met has even gotten into that much trouble, much less been able to get out of it!”
Ejection Eddie’s simple response impressed me as much as his stories had. “It’s not magic, buddy. Of course, you have to keep your eyes open for life’s little snares. You can avoid most trouble just by doing that! But sometimes a situation can blindside you, even when you have had your eyes open! Like a moth caught on the edge of a spider web, you have to keep flapping those wings until you escape. You can’t panic—and you definitely can’t get discouraged and give up. If you rationally, energetically, and consistently (but patiently) keep moving toward your freedom, you can escape from almost any trap. Creative confidence and dogged perseverance can make you free. Lack of faith in your own ability, surrender of your will power to another, or panic replacing logic and common sense will make you into a spider’s lunch.”
Doug “Ten” Rose may be the biggest smartass as well as one of the most entertaining survivors of the hitchhiking adventurers that used to cover America’s highways. He is the author of the books Fearless Puppy on American Road and Reincarnation Through Common Sense, has survived heroin addiction and death, and is a graduate of over a hundred thousand miles of travel without ever driving a car, owning a phone, or having a bank account. Ten Rose and his work are a vibrant part of the present and future as well as an essential remnant of a vanishing breed.