Paddy’s Last Word Series # 4: Out of the frying pan, into the blizzard

[Note: This is the fourth of Paddy Mitchell’s seven final blog entries, written shortly before his death on January 14, 2007, and mailed to Ottawa to be posted on his blog. The series is being published posthumously between January 21 and January 25th.] 

I don’t know if the term “history repeats itself” is appropriate here, but I was just listening to my radio and heard a news broadcast about a  major blizzard passing through Denver, Colorado, closing highways and schools and the Denver Airport, and my memory flashed back “exactly” twenty five years ago (which is a wonder because my memory has not been working well of late) to an incident that happened to me:  I had attempted to rob “Diamond’s Department Store” at the Metro Center Mall in Phoenix, Arizona. 

It was the week before Christmas, 1981.  I was reasonably successful until I found myself in a shootout with an undercover policeman who just happened to be at the store.  After bouncing over the counter and scooping up the money that was awaiting an armoured-truck pickup ($165,000) I was confronted by the policeman, gun pointed at me, and ordered to “Stop or I’ll shoot”.  He shot!  Taking a layer of skin off my nose….  I write about this entire incident in my book:  my arrest, incarceration, release and my trip to Denver;  all within three days. 

Too long a story to describe on this blog…anyhow, I ended up on a flight out of Phoenix to Denver and all I had to wear for the flight was a pair of jogging shorts, a polo-shirt, a pair of ankle-socks and running shoes.   There  was some questions as to whether my plane would be able to land because of blizzard-like conditions.   Somehow, we landed and when the passengers were leaving the plane the female steward stood at the doorway saying goodbye to passengers.   She greeted me with: “Where do you think you’re going dressed like that?   Don’t you know there’s a blizzard out there?”  “It would take too long to explain.” I answered and scurried on out onto the tarmac – no covered ramp on this flight – but I’d gotten away, which was an important thing! 

NOTE:   I hope you’ll forgive me if you think I write about robberies, prison escapes, and women in a flippant manner.   I don’t mean for things to come out that way, but that’s the way they happened to me.   These stories are not fiction… they all happened to me in the way I describe them.

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