It was the late 1970's and I was a finance clerk for the City of Bellingham, Washington. It was New Year's Eve, and City Hall was dead. Everyone thought we were closed, but we were open for business. We were bored stiff.
I sat at my desk in the Finance Office, waiting to sell a dog license, or retrieve a document, or get something to file, or type a letter for the director...something; but we just sat and waited for nobody.
The municipal court judge happened by, wandering into our office for nothing better to do. He was a nice guy, despite being a judge, and so, for something to do, I shot a rubber band at him, and hit him.
As long as I remember, I've been an expert with the rubber band. In high school I used to shoot bobby pins with a rubber band. During lunch one day in the cafeteria, I whispered to my friend, "Watch this," and shot a bobby pin across the wide aisle and into the milk carton of an enemy of mine, a fellow who often picked on me. Suddenly his milk was running all over the table, and he never did figure out who did it or even how it happened. In the Army, I used to shoot cigarettes out of guys' mouths across the room with rubber bands, much to their shocked displeasure. The only reason I never got beat up for it was that they were always impressed with the shot, and I never missed.
Well, rubber bands were easy to be had in city offices, and the judge stepped over and grabbed one off a desk across the room. He took aim at me, and shot it, as I quickly ducked behind my desk. Already I had another rubber band in hand, and took a second shot at him. This time he took cover and dodged it.
Before we knew it, the judge and I were in fierce battle, and everyone else on the main floor of City Hall was having a blast watching us. Considering that I was messing with the judge and the public wasn't around, my boss, Don Hoffman, the finance director, just threw up his hands and let us play. Our battle extended beyond the Finance Office, and the two of us were dodging and darting and crawling all over, from office to office. He would disappear, then suddenly pop up and shoot over a partition as he stood on a chair or desk, and I'd leap and roll and shoot back. Both of us found ourselves crawling on the carpet, scrambling from desk to desk, grabbing rubber bands wherever we could find them, and trying to hit each other as accurately and as hard as we could. The judge turned out to be a crack shot himself. By the time we pooed out, both of us were drenched with sweat, completely exhausted, and hysterical with laughter. That boring New Year's Eve turned out to be the most exciting day spent at City Hall. The robbery by a guy dressed as a clown was dull in comparison.
Some time later I went to court for a traffic ticket, and my rubber band adversary sat at the bench. It was business as usual, and although he was extra nice to me, he treated me as fairly as anyone else. Since then he was elevated to some important judge for the State of Washington. He moved away, and I haven't seen him since. But there's never a time since that great battle in City Hall that I would come before a judge without picturing him rolling on the floor dodging someone's rubber bands and shooting back with a big smile on his face.
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