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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Take break seriously

<w can it be eighth week already? I guess time flies when you’re… uh… doing Comps. I’ve done so much school work recently, I wanted to take a break from the academy and focus on learning that takes place outside the classroom. In fact, I learned one of my most memorable life lessons over spring break.

A few years ago,  I was spring breaking with a few friends in downtown Memphis. It was late, probably around 2 a.m. We were making our way back to our Holiday Inn Express, yearning for sleep and an early continental breakfast. 

Suddenly, a disheveled-looking man emerged from the dark. The man asked us what we were up to. We said we were heading back to our hotel. My friend “Jack” noted that he could go for some cigarettes. The man said it was awfully late for a bunch of “young fellows like us” to be trudging around the streets of Memphis. He asked where we we’re from. We told him St. Louis.

“I used to live in St. Louis!”

What a coincidence, I thought.

“What is the busy street with the McDonald’s on it called?”

“Olive?” Jack asked. 

“Yeah, Olive. I used to have an apartment on Olive,” the man said.

At this point, I was starting to feel uneasy.

“You all being from St. Louis, can you give me a few dollars for my daughter’s birthday gift?”

 It was an awkward situation. Here’s a group of kids clearly with enough money for a hotel room being asked for a measly few bucks. If we said no, it seemed morally incongruous. If we said yes, it might have left us with a dangerous situation. After all, it was a quiet night. We weren’t quite near our hotel, and no one else was on the street. I told the guy we needed to go. 

“Just cause you guys are from St. Louis, I’m going to take this guy to get cigarettes. I know a shortcut.”

I looked around. I didn’t see many businesses nearby, let alone any open at this time of night. Speaking for the group, I politely refused. Jack, however, decided he wanted to go. He and the man started walking down an alley.

“Jack, it’s late. We have to get some sleep.”

Jack insisted he’d be fine. I demanded Jack leave with us. After about five minutes of arguing, he furiously stomped back to the hotel.

Jack later explained he was hoping for a story, and we deprived him of one. Now, I know spring break is coming up. Maybe you’re feeling adventurous. Maybe you want to bring back a story for your floor. Well, keep this story in mind.

I’ll never know what would have happened if Jack went down that alley. My instincts tell me it would’ve been something bad. If there is a moral here, I think it’s  “trust your gut.”  In this case, Jack only missed out on cigarettes. In the scheme of things, I’d say that’s a fine ending.

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