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  <your background>
1.Q Tell me about the first time you remember being thrilled.
1.A I want to say that it was on a Matterhorn type of ride at Tivoli when I was three, but I more remember my drawing of that ride than the ride itself. Still, the trip to Copenhagen yields the winner with the clearest details. I had asked my father’s permission to carry the Pentax camera (probably an MX) while I went to the bathroom. Being three, I found it was tough to use the urinal with a camera around my neck, so I set it down behind a pillar while I urinated. A moment later I went back, but the camera was gone. No one had turned it in, and we had a train to catch. In psychosomatic terms, I felt the burning of blood rushing to my face and ears, and my heart was racing. I probably had a lot of endorphins rushing through me, given that I was terribly emotional and suddenly weak (when I found out that, disappointed as they were, my parents weren’t going to yell at me once the initial shock subsided for them).
2.Q What’s the slightest thing to have thrilled you?
2.A A look from someone I found attractive. It’s there and gone in no time, but the effects on pulse are immense
3.Q What’s the most frightening yet thrilling thing you’ve done?
3.A I can’t isolate a single event, but many fall into the driving-and-losing-control category. In a recent instance, I was driving on a curved freeway onramp during a light rain storm. In third gear and going about 30 MPH (maybe as much as 35), I started to lose control in the (right) bend, with my rear wheels (it is a 5-speed front-wheel-drive vehicle) fishtailing toward the low curb between my lane and a merging onramp. I shifted down to second gear without using the brakes, and then turned gently to the left while letting the engine slow the car down. The car behind me was within 30 feet, quite possibly less, but I remember thinking that braking would make me lose control and make him hit me, yet accelerating would have kept me out of control. Turning too much was a risk, too. I was miles away before I came down from that thrill. There are other, better, examples, I am sure, but they are not coming to mind right now.
4.Q Tell me why you’re not completely sensible.
4.A I teach English to college students. What right-minded (sensible) person spends extra time and money on schooling to qualify for a job that pays less than he could make in almost any other industry?
5.Q What’s the most uninhibited thing you’ve ever done?
5.A Prior to a car’s arrival, begun a sexual encounter in a somewhat full parking lot. Outside of the car.
6.Q What have you considered doing for pleasure but were too concerned about the risks?
6.A I have never really had that problem. I have backed away from climbing because I realized that my skills were too poor and my backpack was unbalancing me, but I had stopped enjoying that a few feet below.


  <your thrill>
7.Q Describe the event in one sentence (there’s time to expand later)
7.A I arrested a 15-year-old for stealing a pack of cigarettes.
8.Q Tell me a bit about yourself around this time.
8.A I was married (first marriage) and working as a licensed store detective (limited powers of arrest). I had recently finished my AA degree and was finding that not many places wanted to hire me, so I had taken whatever job I could get. I liked computer games (still do) and split my time between playing those and spending time with my wife (when not working, of course). My (now) ex-wife was a fairly quiet person, so we took evening walks and watched TV together, rather than engaging in thrill-seeking (sensation-seeking, if you prefer).
9.Q List the sequence of events leading up to your thrill. Try to remember how you felt at each stage. The smallest detail could be important (this is your chance to expand).

It was a hot day for Seattle, easily in the mid-90s, and most of the people who were coming into the grocery store where I was working on Queen Anne Hill were wearing bicycle short and t-shirts. The result was the not many people had places to conceal stolen good, and it was turning out to be a boring late afternoon shift. I had a few appropriate non-perishables in my basket when I arrived near the front of the store. There I saw a teenager walk in wearing a wool cap and a down jacket—completely wrong for the weather.

I got into a position from which I could watch him, my heart rate higher since right after I spotted him. At each stage, I dutifully noted the time. He peered over the cordon at one of the unused check stands, looking at the tobacco display. Then, he moved to the adjacent unused check stand, reached over, and plucked a pack of Camels from the display. He walked behind me and put his hands in his pockets, pulling them out as he passed to the other side on his way to the door. His hands were empty then.

I followed him as he moved toward the door, picking up speed a little and dropping off my basket on the way. A few people were watching me, probably wondering what was happening as I passed them. I felt a little giddy—light-headed from the endorphin rush. As I headed out the door, I wondered whether or not the kid was armed, and if he was, was it worth the $6/hr I was getting to confront him. Still, I rushed around to get in front of him on the sidewalk, placing my right hand on his right shoulder as I identified myself. (That allows me to push back if he tries turning left and lay him on his back in he tries turning right. The other option would be to return to the store.)

He looked at the sidewalk a few feet ahead of him and off to his left, trying to explain that he had an appointment down the street in five minute’s time. I told him that he would be late for his appointment or miss it, and that he could either walk back into the store with me or have me walk him back in handcuffs (he did not know that I could not legally handcuff a minor). After continued evasions, he relented and turned back to the store. At that moment the rush left me, and my knees almost gave out. He turned his head to say something to me just before we walked through the doors, but I forced myself to look as if I was in better control of my gait than was actually the case and motioned for him to keep moving.

While the rest was procedural crap—call for wants and warrants, get information, prepare a police report, contact family and/or police because minors cannot be released to the street—he gave me a little troubled that got the endorphins pumping again. He claimed to be blameless and demanded to know what he had stolen. Normally, we would let the perps confess, possibly showing more than we knew they had stolen, but I had tracked him from entry to exit, so I was not worried. I laid out the entire timeline, angrily and forcefully, but that broke him. When his mother, who was not going to pick him up until her husband got home, learned that the police had arrived (they had been delayed due to a shift change), she said to let the police deal with it. The tough kid started bawling like a baby when they cuffed him. I am guessing he had much the same endorphin rushes as I, though at different times and for different reasons.

10.Q What were your thoughts and feelings at the precise moment of thrill?
10.A A “Oh fuck! What if he has a gun? A knife I can handle, but not a gun.”
11.Q What did you do afterwards?
11.A When they finally carted the little brat away, I smiled, breathed deeply, and did a little victory jig (with the store manager safely out of the room).
12.Q What were the risks?
12.A Life, limb. Nothing much.
13.Q What did you imagine other people thought of you during and after the event?

Store patrons before peak: “What the hell is doing running through the store like that? The freak!”

Store patrons after peak: “Maybe I should put this candy bar back or pay for it. He’d embarrass me.

Perp at my peak: “Oh shit. No. Why’d this bastard have to get me?”

Store manager: “He got that kid? We’ve been after him for a year.” (based on the manager’s comments after the fact)

14.Q How often do you think about the event, and why?
14.A Perhaps three or four times per year. It comes up when I am lecturing about personal experience essays. When I was an undergraduate, I had to write a personal experience piece for a journalism class, limiting myself to 10 modifiers, so I wrote about that experience. Mine was the paper the professor read to the class.
15.Q Some people probably don’t understand how such a thing can thrill you; explain it to them.
15.A The thrill is in the not knowing. I didn’t know whether or not he was armed (later, in the same store, another person chased a thief down and stopped him before the thief had gotten to his weapon: a used needle crawling with hepatitis-B). I didn’t know if he would fight, run, or surrender, but there aren’t many other options. It’s the egotistical thrill of being right and of winning. I never wanted to be a police officer, even as a child. This was a chance to get paid (peanuts) to test myself against the people who steal $20B annually in the U.S. (possibly much more these days), driving up retail prices.
16.Q What three changes could have made the experience better, and why?
16.A 1) He had managed to steal more without my seeing and then fessed up.
2) He had started a fight. (OK, that’s scary to realize)
3) He had been armed. (Yet more frightening)
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what do you find thrilling?