Kellie Pickler's Pheromonesbyimhapless©
They say that there are no great men, only great deeds. In my case it would be better said as "only lucky great deeds."
I'm not quite an average Joe, especially since my name is Dustin, but not much more than average. At 6'2", 185 pounds I'm a little bigger than average, I can bench and squat a little more than average, my facial features and muscle tone are a little better than average, and I'm a little smarter than average. I'm certainly no superhero, or even hero, but I did have a good moment.
I grew up in the city of Chicago, have always lived in a big city or close in suburb and never go out to the country. I love rock music but I hate country and western music -- I can't really say why, but it grates on me. I speak with a small Midwestern "twang," but otherwise I'm easily understandable. I never have been much good at understanding people with accents -- any type of accent whether it be British, country, or Pakistani. I guess I just don't have a very nuanced ear.
I'm thirty-two and still play in two softball leagues. My favorite sport in High School, and the only one I was more than adequate at but not good enough to compete in during college at Tufts in Boston, was wrestling even though I hated "making weight" in order to wrestle fifteen pounds under my normal weight at the time. I love watching football and baseball on T V or going to see the Redskins or Nationals play with a friend or two a couple of times a year each.
I guess that I need to admit something for this story to make sense. I'm one of the few straight guys who likes Dancing With The Stars, or at least will admit it. In my defense the main reason is the female dancers. Almost without exception the female professionals are hot, and oftentimes the female contestants are too. The last season had one especially intriguing contestant -- Kellie Pickler, a former American Idol contestant and now a Country and Western singer, and married to one.
Sometimes watching "Dancing..." can be painful, though, especially since my divorce eighteen months ago. I didn't cheat on Isabella and as far as I know she didn't cheat on me either. However, we had some basic differences that we didn't realize before marriage and couldn't reconcile afterward.
Isabella and I lasted only three years before we jointly filed for uncontested divorce. We didn't split as enemies, but we certainly don't go out of our way to see each other now, either.
I haven't had more than a couple dozen dates, and only got laid a handful of times, since we split.
I was moping around my apartment, dateless, one Saturday night in Arlington, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D. C., as I unfortunately did a lot at that time. I was going a little stir crazy so I thought that I'd take a nighttime bicycle ride on my prized possession, a titanium frame racer. Not the safest thing in the world to do but something that I did fairly often when I needed to clear my head.
I was humming along near some of the monuments in Washington when I saw a rental truck unloading something. I thought that was odd at 11:00 p.m. on a Saturday night so I looped around to get a better look. There were four guys moving something that was very bulky and it looked like they were unnerved by my presence.
In the Washington area, as is true in many parts of the world, residents are always supposed to be on the lookout for suspicious behavior. This was one of those situations, so I stopped my bike about twenty meters from them and said "It looks like you guys are having some trouble with that thing -- do you need any help?"
Instead of a verbal response one of the guys let loose of his part of the device being unloaded, pulled a handgun and shot at me. I guess he was a bad shot because I heard the first two shots ping off of my bicycle frame and the third -- by now I was starting to pedal away -- just grazed my arm. I heard groaning in the background.
Once I got to what I though was a safe distance I called 911 on my cell phone and yelled something into the phone like "I think they're some terrorists unloading something near the Mall."
I heard a crash then looked toward the rental truck. Whatever the thing was that they had been unloading had dropped to the ground. One presumed terrorist, the guy who shot at me, was rolling around on the ground screaming in pain. Two of the upright guys were running to the truck obviously intent on driving away even though the loading ramp was still down. The other guy started running away from the truck at a diagonal to me.
I yelled a description of the truck and the direction it would be moving in to the 911 dispatcher and to the best of my ability gave her my exact location. Then I hopped on my bike and took after the guy on foot. He was large and slow and I caught him quickly, jumped off of my bike onto him knocking him to the ground, and then harking back to my High School wrestling days got him in a Full Nelson.
I couldn't believe how fast the cops got there. While applying pressure to the big guy's neck I could still see the truck when I heard another crash when a cop car rammed it and I heard gunshots coming from near that location. Two other cop cars with two cops each were at the location of the crashed "thing" in what I am sure was less than two minutes. I yelled over at them "The guy rolling around shot at me including hitting me in the arm, and I can't hold this guy forever."
The guy on the ground was quickly handcuffed and two of the cops ran over to me and Tasered and then handcuffed the guy I was restraining. One of the cops near the "thing" starting yelling some code words into his radio. The two cops with me told me to leave my bicycle and come with them as the escorted the big guy toward their car.
Apparently the code words yelled into the radio caused major activity because within just a few minutes an FBI bomb vehicle rolled up as well as what looked like several FBI unmarked vehicles, Park Police, Capital Police, D. C. Police, and an ATF vehicle -- shit there had to be at least a dozen vehicles.
I could see the guys in blast suits from the FBI bomb vehicle inspecting the "thing," then I heard a bull horn saying "evacuate, evacuate."
A plainclothes guy, who identified himself as "FBI agent Murphy," yelled "Come with me, NOW!" I didn't ask why and ran toward him and a vehicle door he opened for me while he ordered "Get in, get in!"
As we peeled away it looked like the only people left at the scene were the three guys in bomb blast suits. The guy who shot at me, the big guy I had wrestled to the ground and all of the cops were gone. The vehicles were tearing away so fast that they were laying rubber.
The car I was in stopped about three blocks away and blocked traffic. As I looked around I saw even more emergency vehicles and it looked like they were setting up a perimeter around the area where the "thing" was. I was transferred to another vehicle and was taken to FBI headquarters by Agent Murphy.
At the FBI building an EMT treated my wound and gave me some antibiotics. She told me how lucky I was that it was only a flesh wound and that if I got the dressings changed regularly, was careful how I used my left arm, and took all the antibiotics, that I should be almost normal in two weeks. "No more jumping off of a bicycle onto fleeing terrorists until it heals," she said. Now that my adrenaline rush was wearing off it hurt enough that I could assure her that I wouldn't be doing that again.
I gave a complete, videotaped, statement to three agents and a Federal prosecutor. I never, ever, before in my life had an audience so intently listening to what I had to say. When I was done -- it took more than an hour to tell them what took place in three minutes because they needed to know every single detail that I could remember -- they shook my hand and said that they'd give me a ride home as soon as the lockdown was over.
"What about my bicycle?" I asked.
"I'm really sorry, but it's evidence," the prosecutor said. "I can't tell you when we'll get it back to you, but I'll email you a form to seek compensation for it. For now why don't you go down to the canteen and then the lobby; Agent Murphy will accompany you."
The lockdown was over about two hours later, although 100 meter circles around the site where the "thing" crashed and around where the truck had been rammed were taped-off crime scenes.
I kept my ears open in the FBI building and from what I could glean from bits and pieces of discussions, and one side of phone conversations, a shootout had resulted in the two guys who fled in the truck being killed and one police officer wounded, but in stable condition; the two guys handcuffed at the scene were in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries; and the "thing" was a dirty bomb that had been successfully defused by the bomb squad without injury to people or to the environment.
When Murphy drove me home he could tell that I had picked up a lot of information and he asked me not to say anything to others until the information became public, which given the prevalence of reporters, the Internet and social media, it was sure to do. I reiterated with him something that I had said to the prosecutor: "Please keep my name confidential to the extent possible, I'm not big on publicity or being the center of attention."
I guess I wasn't surprised when the next day my little incident was the lead story on all of the TV stations, and there were three or four articles about it on every website dealing with news. By noon Sunday CNN was already reporting virtually everything that I had found out and then-some.
For example, the terrorist who shot at me -- they called all four guys terrorists -- had been hit in the stomach by one of his own bullets that hit my bike and unbelievably had ricocheted off of my titanium frame. I was identified as the "late night bicyclist," and on more than one station I was referred to as a "hero."
Because of my surreal experience I was restless, and watching the TV coverage was freaking me out. I was starting to realize how lucky I was to be alive. I would have exercised except that my left arm hurt and the EMT had told me not to lift with my left arm for two weeks. So I just took a long walk along the Potomac and then called up two single buddies of mine and went out to dinner with them. I didn't tell them anything about my experience.
I work as a mid-level executive for a big insurance company, also in Arlington. My bandage was covered by my shirt and jacket so I didn't have any explaining to do about that. Of course the entire office was abuzz about the incident especially since authorities were saying that if the dirty bomb had gone off it would have made a one mile radius uninhabitable for decades, and caused enormous disruption and financial ruin in the entire area.
My role had not been made public.
In an afternoon meeting my big boss, Tom Johnson, an Executive V. P. of the company, made an ironic statement to open the meeting. "We really dodged a bullet Saturday night. We would have had to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars to those we insured. We ought to give that bicyclist a million dollars!"
"I dodged two and a half bullets, and I'll take the million," I laughed to myself after that statement.
I knew from the fact that the story would not die that eventually I'd be exposed. I thought I had prepared myself -- not even close!
You would not believe the media crush at my apartment building when I came home from work on Wednesday. At first I thought that there was a fire or something and innocently asked a reporter hanging out by the sidewalk "What's going on?"
She started to answer my question then got a quizzical look on her face, looked at something below the first few sheets of her notepad and then excitedly asked "Are you Dustin Crenshaw?"
I knew that my life had changed. I didn't answer her but just started trying to push my way through the crowd to the lobby. She followed me yelling questions, and the others caught on quickly. I almost had a television camera shoved in my face, and almost got knocked down several times, but finally forced my way to the door. I used my key card to open it and slammed it shut behind me. I went straight to the building manager's office and asked her to call the cops to disperse the crowd so that other tenants could get in.
When I got inside my apartment the phone was ringing. The caller ID indicated some news organization. I picked up the receiver and put it back down. Then I checked voice mail. "You have one hundred twenty one new messages and two saved messages," the mechanical voice said. I called the phone company and told them to disconnect the phone, then pulled the plug.
Fortunately only a few people knew my cell phone number. It rang shortly after I called to disconnect my land line. It was my parents.
"Dustin, you didn't tell us you were a hero."
"I'm not Mom," I replied, "I was just in the right place at the right time and got lucky."
"That's not what's on T V. Where did they get that photo of you?"
"I don't know, Dad, I haven't seen it yet."
"There are like twenty reporters here. What should we tell them?"
"Tell them that you don't know anything about it, the news reports are all the information you have, and that your son hasn't given you any other information about it."
I got similar calls from my sister, my uncles and aunts, my cousins, the only two people I work with who have my cell number, and -- my ex-wife.
"Wow, Dustin, you hit the big time," Isabella said in her distinctively sexy voice. In her job she did a lot of phone work because her phone voice could melt butter -- it was better than the real package in person, although she definitely was a good looking woman.
"Sorry, Izzie, its purgatory not the big time. There are fifty reporters trying to crash my apartment building, and I had over a hundred voice mails. I'm afraid to check my personal email."
"Don't you want to be famous, Dustin?"
"Hell no; I just want to go on with my life."
"You need to get a media consultant and capitalize on it," Isabella continued, "I can give you a recommendation if you want one."
"Thanks, Izzie, but no thanks. I do have a request for you, though."
"What?" she asked.
"Please, please, please do not give anyone my cell phone number or my personal email address. Promise?"
"Maybe," she giggled, then after a pause, "if you answer a booty call."
"Izzie we're done. You were as in favor of splitting as I was," I replied, puzzled.
"Yeah, well the bedroom was never a difficulty for us was it? I've never fucked a hero before," she cackled.
"If you still want to in two months, call me," I said, chuckling. "In the meantime don't give anyone any contact information for me!"
"Promise," she said, "unless I'm offered a million dollars!" She laughed, and cut off.
When I saw more than a hundred emails in my personal account I deleted all of them except the three from friends.
The next day things were not only bad at my apartment building but also at the office. I had to negotiate a phalanx of reporters just to get into my office building.
Everyone who saw me at work congratulated me, including people whose names I didn't know, and especially one really hot woman in accounting who always seemed aloof and who I never had the guts to talk to. I actually chatted with her -- Betsy -- for a minute or two for the first time ever. We were interrupted so much that I gave up trying to talk to her any more but gently grabbed her arm as I departed and said "Thanks for your congratulations," getting a big smile in return.
Betsy was the only person I talked to that I did not downplay my role in the scenario with.
There were two good things -- besides getting to meet and talk to Betsy -- that happened, and one important thing that turned out to be phenomenal.
My bicycle had been prominently displayed on T. V. and in several newspaper and magazine articles. The president of the company that manufactured my bicycle called my office -- it was about the only call from "well-wishers" or reporters that my secretary was smart enough to put through.
"Mr. Crenshaw, this is Jud Williams, president of 'X' Bicycle Company. I'm glad that you're OK, and I hope that riding one of our bicycles helped you out," the voice on the phone excitedly said.
"It sure did, Jud -- and please call me Dustin."
"Great, Dustin. We understand that your bike has now got two dents in the frame from bullets that were fired at you, and that it is being kept as evidence."
"That's true, Jud, and when my arm heals in a couple of days I'm really going to miss it because I ride all over town with it," I replied. I'm no genius but I knew an opportunity when I saw one.
"Well, Dustin, that's why I'm calling. I'd like to send you a new bike to replace yours. I'm hoping that when you get it you'll provide a little blurb about it to our marketing people."
"That's generous of you, Jud. I'd be happy to, but as we both know you've already gotten hundreds of thousands of dollars of free advertising and this is going to get you even more. Therefore I'd really appreciate it if you'd send me the absolute top of the line titanium bike as well as all of the top of the line accessories including shoes, helmet, gloves, pump, etc." (That's got to be worth $15,000, I chuckled to myself).
"Is it OK if they all have our logo on them?" Jud asked.
"You wouldn't be a business man if they didn't," I laughed.
Everything was delivered by courier to my office the next day and I gave two appreciative sentences to Jud's marketing people. At least now I didn't have to worry about getting my bicycle back!
The afternoon of the day that Jud called me Tom Johnson, my big boss, called me into his office. After congratulating me he got to the point, his typical M. O.
"Dustin, your heroism has been a big boon to the company and our clients. Because of the good publicity and savings we want to reward you. In a phone vote the Board of Directors has authorized a reward of $250,000. Since it is a reward for civic achievement, and not a bonus, our attorneys tell us that it's tax free."
"No shit!" I blurted out before I caught myself. "Sorry, Tom, you just caught me by surprise with your generosity."
"Ha, no problem, Dustin" he laughed. "I hope that you're not disappointed that it's not a million dollars like I ironically threw out at the meeting Monday before I knew of your involvement."
"I'm as far from disappointed as could be," I laughed.
"One other thing, Dustin. I'm going to give you some unsolicited advice."
"Sure," I genuinely replied. Johnson was one of the smartest people I had ever known so I was happy to receive any personal advice he was willing to give.
"You can't avoid the media forever. If I were you I'd pick one outlet that can do something for you that you really want then call them and give an exclusive interview. If you play it right that will allow you to shut everyone else down."
I thought about it a moment. In just a few seconds he had given me a solution to a problem that I had agonized about for five days. "Thanks, Tom," I said, standing up and offering my hand, "for the advice even more than the money."
"I hope I helped," he responded vigorously shaking my hand. "One last thing, if you need three or four days off to deal with this take them. Administrative days authorized by me, not vacation."
"I might take you up on that," I chuckled, "things have been hectic.
I knew I would take Tom's advice. Now I had to figure out what I wanted. That night when I saw a YouTube replay of Kellie Pickler doing the quick step on Dancing With The Stars my mind was quickly made up.
I took Friday off as one of my "Admin" days, found the card of a guy from ABC (the station that broadcasts Dancing With The Stars) who had been hounding me, and called him.