It was around midnight and I was making my way home after a high school prom. I had been asked by a friend at church to go with her friend who would have otherwise not had a date. Despite having already graduated the year before and wanting little to do with high schoolers I agreed and tried to show her a fun time. I lived in a quiet town in North Carolina not too far from a college that would soon reach university status and be the reason my little town got bigger.
I was sitting at a red light next to a grocery store parking lot with my windows down taking in the wet summer air when I heard a commotion. I looked closer at the lot next to me to see the silhouettes of lovers in a quarrell. It appeared that she was screaming to be let go while he had her by the arms in a grip that she couldn’t escape.. I decided to pull into the parking lot to get a closer look and unfortunately my eyes had not deceived me, she was very clearly trying to get away from him to no avail.
Being the brave young man that I was I parked a few aisles away, stayed in my car, and called the cops. There was no other reason for me to be in that lot and so it became immediately clear to the enraged man that I was prying into his personal affairs and so upon realizing I was there he immediately redirected his unruly anger toward me. Right about the time he reached into my car window to grab me by the collar we were surrounded by blue lights and his angry words were drowned in the sea of sirens.
The rage monster was cuffed and questioned and placed in the back of the police car while the police tried to determine what exactly had gone down. They finished with a final question for each of us that gave me way more power than I was comfortable with, “Do you want to press charges?” I felt like Frodo holding the ring for the first time. She quickly shouted, “NO!” as if it was unthinkable, as if she was afraid to yes and then looked at my with big swollen begging eyes which awaited for me to follow suit. “No” I said, “No need for all that. He was just angry.”
They agreed to keep him for the night just until he calmed down and asked her if there was anyone she could call for a ride or if they needed to take her home. Since I was feeling so heroic having taken a lonely girl to prom and saving another one from certain destruction I figured, what the heck, I can drive 40 minutes out of the way to help a stranger get home safely! “If she’s ok with it, I can take her officer.” I said graciously as I smiled at the rage monster behind the bulletproof glass. She agreed and off we went.
We made small talk and I tried diligently to not make her any more uncomfortable than she already was. She was a waitress at a local italian restaurant called Sals and was a student at the college in town. As much as I wanted to ask her “So what kind of daddy issues made you want to be with that guy?” I refrained.
We pulled onto the campus of Elon College and made our way to her friends dorm. She was afraid to go back to her place just in case the rage monster had escaped the clutches of the local PD. In light of the unsettling night she had just had I parked the car and offered to walk her to the door. She agreed and we made our way.
When we got the door her friends were anxious to hear about what had happened so before I go turn and leave she ushered me in to introduce her knight in shining armor and I was equally anxious to play the part. The radio was on at a reasonable level and there were four or five of us in the room and so I’m very confident when I say that the next thing that happened was totally uncalled for.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! “Campus Police. Open up!” Confused but compliant the girl whose dorm we were in opened the door. An apparently bitter neighbor had decided to carry out her latent revenge by filing a undeserved noise complaint. The officers came in and began looking around and asking who we were and what we were doing. I was the only non-student in the room which led them to take special interest in me. They asked if we had any drugs or alcohol and then requested permission to look around the dorm which was granted to them by the girl whose dorm we were in.
As they came out of the closet holding a couple of six packs I didn’t really think a lot of it. They asked for everyone’s I.D. and without giving it a lot of thought I handed mine over. That night I was charged with underage possession of alcohol which in North Carolina is a criminal misdemeanor. That was the night I decided that Karma was bogus. I had stuck my nose into numerous situations, making sacrificial decisions, giving myself over to danger and inconvenience and all I had to show for it was wet ink on my criminal record.
Everytime I do the right thing and I suffer for it, this night comes to mind. My job is a thankless one most days. I work with men who have addictions and every day carries the potential to be an amazing day where someone’s life changes or a terrible day where someone takes advantage of me, screams at me, wants to fight me, etc. But I’m not in it for the Karma, I’m in it because its the right thing, because these men need my help and my story to keep them fighting their own demons, and because it’s what I was made to do. We have decide if we’re going to do the right thing because it’s right or because we’re hoping for a reward because in this life, hoping for Karma is going to leave you disappointed.
Every person has a story and I'd be honored to tell it! If you would like to be a part of this #TrueStories series I would love to set up an interview with you to hear your stories. You can email me at email@example.com and let me know you’re interested.