This essay has been changed a bit in the last couple revisions mainly structurally. The essay was originally just listed what happened with me talking about how stupid I was, then going in to what I was thinking for a little while, before me ending saying that my actions were stupid. I have changed this around, going more into what I was thinking in each scenario. I also gave some of the reasons I may have subconsciously made these decisions before I went into each scenario. I also tried to narrow down the thought process that I had for each of the incidents, and go a little more in depth with each scenario as well.
The Trials of Ryan Jackson
What the hell was I thinking. The absurd thought that I could get away with this so many times. For the first month after the last incident occurred, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The choice that I made, decision after decision, to put myself in those positions. And then to decide to be a complete idiot after that. I have played the scenarios in my head over and over. And then over and over a couple more times, basically just tormenting myself with thoughts of what would’ve and could’ve happened if I had just not been so stupid. What if I had just acted a little sooner, or just done something else? But no, I did not make that decision. Any of the times.
Drinking alcohol is something that I started doing only about a year ago, about halfway through my senior year of high school. Since then, I have become accustomed to getting drunk every once in a while, never needing alcohol, but generally enjoying having a drink here and there. I am not a “seasoned drinker” but I have been around alcohol for my entire life, my parents sometimes having wine at dinner or a beer at a barbecue. This, in addition to my trip last summer, made me feel like I was not only a seasoned drinker, but a legal one.
Last summer I went to Europe with my dad to several different countries. We went to the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Spain. There the culture was so different, and the drinking age was so much lower. Even if you were younger than the drinking age, as long as you were not being disruptive, people wouldn’t question you about it. I learned what people in Europe thought was correct drinking, not using alcohol purely to get drunk, but to just go along with life, as long as it was used safely. I began to get a feel for how to drink, learning my limit, and never being rude or disruptive.
I thought this newfound knowledge of how to drink was great, and would be perfect for college. Regardless of how my drinking habits may have fit in perfectly in Europe though, the rules on underage consumption are still much different in the United States. Unfortunately, this thought did not make much of an impact on my drinking in college. The fact that I was safe and not incredibly disruptive, was unfortunately not enough to get the Department of Public Safety officers and RA’s to nullify the fact that I was drinking in the dorms.
The first time that I was caught with alcohol in the dorms, myself and some of my friends from my hall were coming in from a night out. We had gone to a pretty bad party or two, and throughout the night got a nalgene bottle full of vodka. When we ended up back at the dorms we still had the bottle with only a couple shots of terrible vodka left in it. We walked back, pretty drunk but not hammered, into the hallway of third butler. This is where myself and a couple of the people in the group live, and we saw a couple other guys goofing around in the hall, also pretty drunk. We ended up standing next to the stairwell in our hall, being pretty noisy. Then the kid that we ran into asked us what was in the nalgene bottle. We let him try it out, and within 15 seconds the kid next to me was yelling “If you don’t chug the entire thing, then you’re a ‘breed of cat’.” This all happened to be occurring outside of a stairwell where a Department of Public Safety officer happened to be patrolling. Somehow, this managed to catch his attention. He also managed to walk down the stairs and exit the stairwell and place himself less than three feet behind me, without me noticing. Coincidentally, almost as soon as he did that, I noticed that the kid trying out the nalgene bottle was actually chugging it. My response to this was yelling out, “Holy crap, I can’t believe that you’re actually chugging that! That’s the nastiest vodka that I’ve ever had!” This did not fool the DPS officer into thinking that we were simply drinking water in loud tones in the hallway late at night. When he busted us, everyone went silent. The kid with the nalgene tried to say that it only contained water, only to have the officer tell us to dump it out, and then wrote us up.
After this first incident, I was not that worried. Other kids in the hall had already gotten into much more trouble, and besides, I thought, what are the chances that it’s going to happen again.
The second incident was, believe it or not, even more boneheaded than the first. This one occurred when going to a pre-game at Oxford. We were simply drinking a couple of beers in the room, and then someone opened the door and went out into the hall. I decided to go out with a beer in my hand and simply hold it behind my back. I forgot to close the door, which allowed anyone to see bottles in the middle of the room. I saw some kids walking down from the end of the hall and decided to say hi to them when they walked by. “Hi, we’re the RA’s on duty” they answered. “And what’s that behind your back?”
After this second incident, I was pretty angry. It had only been a couple weeks since my last incident, and I couldn’t believe that it had happened again, and almost entirely because of me being an idiot. After a couple of days though, I had talked it over with some kids in my hall, and according to them, it seemed like it wasn’t going to be too bad that I got caught a couple of times. I hadn’t gotten in almost any trouble before and I was still very safe. I decided that I would keep going out. I hadn’t talked to anyone other than my RA and a couple of kids that made it sound like nothing really happens even after two offenses, so I just assumed that it would be pretty tough to get in a lot of trouble for drinking in the dorms, even if it possibly happened again. I somewhat jokingly told my friends that if I somehow got caught a third time, then I would stop drinking.
The third incident was unintelligent as well, as I had already gotten caught drinking in the dorms twice, so you would think that I would’ve learned my lesson. “But no” I said to myself. “I heard that the third time is when you need to start watching out for getting in trouble.” So I decided to keep drinking in the dorms. And less than a week after the second incident, I got caught again. This time wasn’t as bad as the other two, as I figured that I had learned my lesson about drinking in the halls, so why not do it in the dorm room? No one can explicitly see it. This was the friday before halloween, so we were just going to drink in the dorms for a little while then go to a party. We kept procrastinating to go out though, saying “one more and I’ll be good”. This went on until about 1am, and by then we were bumping loud music and there were beer cans everywhere. Then we heard a knock on the door, and the kid next to the door went over to look at it. “Crap, it’s DPS!” He said before rushing over to try and hide the beer cans. I didn’t wait. “Fudge it” I said, thinking that maybe he just wanted us to turn the volume down. Like who would suspect that loud base at 1am on a friday night would mean drinking in the room. I went and opened the door. “Looks like you guys have been drinking in here” he said.
After this, I was put on housing probation. I completely stopped drinking, and got somewhat depressed, just wondering how I could be on housing probation when it wasn’t even November. I didn’t even drink a year ago, and now I am on probation from housing for drinking.
The thought keeps running through my head, almost as an excuse to why I made some of the decisions that I did. Maybe I assumed or had some wild thought that I would change the culture of college and the United States in general if I just stayed safe and non-disruptive. Of course this thought is irrational and essentially just an excuse that I was making. On the other hand, this is what people say when they talk about why the drinking law is 21, to keep us safer. People say that it is not safe, as drunk driving fatalities are lower when the legal age is 18 compared to 21. I stay safe when I drink though, I don’t drink and drive, I know my limit, and I help people out. So I guess I had the confidence that if I were to ever get caught that I could just explain that this is why it’s okay for me to drink underage. Unfortunately my assumptions about this were wrong when I talked to the DPS officers and my hall directors. I am still happy with my decision to be safe, although I should’ve taken into account the fact that I was also doing an illegal activity.
The reason that I got caught so many times wasn’t because of what I was thinking, but also because of what I wasn’t thinking about. I didn’t think about consequences. I didn’t think about the odds of getting caught. I didn’t think about what really happens when you get multiple strikes against you. Why? Because I thought that I was invincible. I had gone through high school without a strike against me. Granted, I only started drinking my senior year, but I was so cocky for some reason. I was a safe drinker, and to me that was all that mattered. That me and no one around me would get hurt. But getting in trouble didn’t worry me. Heck, if I got in trouble with the cops I could probably talk my way out of it, right. That’s what I did in high school. I was so far ahead of most of the people in my classes, that if I got in trouble, I could just make some smart ass comment or stupid joke and they would simply go back to teaching. This is not how it is anymore though.
I think one of the things that I assumed about becoming independent and in college is that one aspect that you would leave behind would be getting in trouble at school. Because you were leaving this somewhat forced environment of K-12 schooling, where everyone has to go and everyone has to behave, that once you get out of there, once you get into the college life where you’re paying tens of thousands of dollars a year on education, they might slack off a little on minor things. Now, drinking is obviously not a minor thing, but that’s not what occurred to me at the time of any of these incidents. It didn’t occur to me that I was doing an illegal activity, and doing it on school grounds. Drinking seems like such a normal part of college, and it is so played up by the media, that it seems strange to not drink at college. But it is still illegal, no matter how much the media plays it up. But this never went through my mind as I drank on school grounds.
I still have yet to figure out exactly why I would make these decisions. I have narrowed it down to that I was very overconfident, and not thinking completely about the consequences. The fact that I thought that I may be able to talk my way out of it was a definite oversight, one that I took from my previous experiences in high school. I unfortunately did not take into consideration that I was doing an illegal activity on school property. Maybe this was because I was thinking about the fact that it is legal once you are 18 in Europe, a society that I felt worked right. This does not transfer over to the United States, as much as I wanted it too. Here, I was cocky and stupid about hiding my alcohol, as well as a little unlucky. I don’t feel that the school was unfair, or that I made a horrible decision. I was stupid , and I regret that, but I would much rather be safe and stupid than sneaky and dead. I am not happy about being on probation, but the school did what they had to do.