When I Got Away With It.
Hitting the ground running, just 24 hours after launching this new website, I will now begin my participation in the Scintilla Project. I am late to the party, so this is Day Five. The prompt is:
Talk about a time you got away with it.
I’d only been at this college for six weeks, having transferred from a different college during the summer. In that short time it had already become clear to me that like my previous college, it was full of disappointments and deception. I didn’t like the people, didn’t like the classes, didn’t like the dorm. That’s being charitable; I loathed the dorm.
One Sunday afternoon I walked through the lobby of the run down dormitory. The stench of stale beer and abandoned, rotting food from another weekend of wall to wall parties clung in the air, and my disgust at same was palpable.
There was the pool table. Somewhat of an altar as one of the few recreational options on that part of campus. There was almost always somebody playing on the damn thing. Sometimes there was even a line for it. Yet not that day.
The billiard balls themselves were usually locked up in the RD’s office, available only when someone was manning same. Yet I noticed the balls were laying on the table, though nobody was present but me.
Stepping over discarded pizza boxes scattered around the table, I pocketed the 8-ball, and not in the legal sense. I literally put the 8-ball in my pocket, and walked back to my room.
Yes, it was theft. I knew it was theft when I did it. Yet I had made a decision right at that moment that enough was enough. I was going to leave this college too, and take with me a symbol of much of what I found wrong with it. The most recognizable accoutrement of the aging building’s third most popular pastime (behind getting drunk and having sex.) In so doing, I was in some small way providing at least a temporary pain in the ass to the people who at large had been a pain in mine all year. They wouldn’t be able to play their little game for a few days at least. (Miraculously, until I made off with the 8-ball, all of the balls were accounted for, based on my quick count of same.)
So brazen was I that I placed the purloined sphere in the window sill of my room. My room mate never asked about it. I figured by the end of the day the RAs would be searching every room. I could throw it away now, but then it wouldn’t mean anything. So I kept it there.
The RA never came that night. Or the night after. Or anytime that week. In fact, near the end of that very week, my request to change rooms to another dorm on the other side of campus was approved. And though I’d been teetering on the edge of transferring again, I reconsidered, and opted to stay, to give the new living arrangements a try.
I took the 8-ball with me. I could have slipped it back onto the table just as anonymously as I stole it. But that’s not what happened. It went with me to the new dorm. It was again prominently displayed, this time on a bookshelf. I figured if they ever did put two and two together and come looking for me in the new dorm, that would be my cue to transfer again.
I graduated from that college three years later. Every moment I was there, the 8-Ball had a place of honor in my room. For yes, even once I got it home each summer, I brought it back with me to campus. It wasn’t my room without it.
And it still isn’t. It’s sitting on a small pedestal less than a foot away from me on this desk as I type this entry. College is in the past now, but the symbolism of the dorm property I absconded those years ago is just as with me as ever, made even more potent by the fact that now it always faces me directly, so I literally am never “behind the 8-ball”.
I can look at it face-to-face, and be reminded of my own potential for brazenness. And I will remember that there is just about always an option, even if a bit extreme. A lesson I was willing to remember, even if I had gotten caught and disciplined for my act of defiance.
But I never got caught. It was one of the times I got away with it.