Erin Flanagan is the author of the short story collection The Usual Mistakes, published as part of the Flyover Fiction Series by the University of Nebraska Press. She is an associate professor at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. 
Jul 01 2011
The Wrong Man
On the evening of June 17, 1994, when Al Cowlings drove O.J.’s white Bronco fifty miles down I-405 followed by twenty helicopters and god knows how many police cars, I was working in nearby El Segundo, California, at a halfway house for men, debating what to do with the rest of my life. Through the first half of college I had planned to apply to law school, but my parents had gotten me a job at their firm the summer before my junior year, and most of my time was spent in a storage closet searching cases for mention of water rights, which made law school look much less appealing. That fall I took a social work elective on human development and began working with underprivileged children, a job I liked because it suited my nosy nature and gave me the opportunity to tell people what to do. As a lawyer I would only be involved in one side of a case (and a boring one at that, it seemed), with the verdict left in someone else’s hands, but as a social worker, I learned, I’d be making actual decisions with consequences that would better people’s lives. Plus, I wouldn’t have to go to grad school to start practicing. So I switched majors my junior year and started my job a week after graduation.