“I have, indeed, no abhorrence of danger, except in its absolute effect – in terror.”
– Edgar Allan Poe
Running From My Mistakes
Back in 2009, I was enrolled in a Police Foundations program. It was the final year of my course and we had one big trip planned to kick it all off. Our teacher had decided to organize a trip down to New Orleans to spend a week with Habitat for Humanity to help build homes for those less fortunate. With a taste for adventure in my blood, I quickly signed up to join in on the fun and to earn the right to list some charitable work on my future resume. When the time came, I drove a group of my classmates down to Louisiana to participate in Habitat for Humanity for one week.
Our first few nights in New Orleans, nothing happened that was particularly wild or crazy. We partied on Bourbon Street one evening as a group and spent some time at the bars along the strip. We ate at a restaurant and I was able to try some pieces of deep-fried alligator, cooked up like popcorn chicken (Spoiler: It tasted like chicken!). I even remember having my hair dyed red for the entertainment of my class because my teacher thought it would be amusing, but it actually turned out orange because the dye was purchased at the dollar store. Thanks teach! 🙂
I even remember bumping another teacher’s car with my vehicle as she drove ahead of me because I was distracted by the scenery around me. (What can I say? I wasn’t the best driver in the world at 21 and it cost me.)
However, there was one particularly crazy incident that occurred during my time in Louisiana and it centered around an old age home which had been destroyed by the floods of Hurricane Katrina. A group of us were informed by a local that quite a few of the elderly who had lived there had died and that it was said to be haunted. Automatically, a bunch of us were intrigued by the thoughts of investigating this abandoned facility (we assumed) and it was only a few blocks away from where we were living for the week. This thought lingered with us.
So, a few days later on a dark and frigid evening, a group of about 6 or 7 of us decided to walk over to this building to investigate. I believe we brought a bag or two full of alcoholic bevies along for good measure. When we had arrived at the building, the side door was left ajar and we simply let ourselves in. It looked as if the building was under renovation, the entire interior had been gutted and it didn’t look like a decrepit old building on the inside as we had imagined.
After a few minutes inside, I began to get a very bad feeling about being in there. I was becoming anxious because some members of the group were being very loud and disrespectful by picking up items such as fire extinguishers and throwing them on the ground. I felt that we probably shouldn’t be doing this, especially in a country where many citizens believe that it’s best to shoot first and ask questions later when it comes to matters of trespassing, so I told the others that I was taking off before we got ourselves into trouble. I did what I thought was right and boy was my anxiety justified!
Just as I walked back out that side door that we had come in through, I was met by the angry shouts of a southerner from the house next door. I vaguely remember his dog with him and perhaps his wife. He was screaming, telling me not to go anywhere and that he had already called the police. I panicked! I had no idea what to do, but my body just took over and I ran through an empty field with the man and his dog chasing after me.
I flew through that open, grassy field with the wind in my hair only looking back behind me from time to time to see if this guy and his dog were able to keep up with me. For probably 500m they were able to keep up alright until at one point the man fell and his dog ran back beside him to make sure that he was okay. Phew! With my adrenaline pumping hard, I was tiring rapidly and I needed to find a place to be able to catch my breath.
Rather than continuing in a straight line towards the edge of the field and the road on the other side of it, I took a sharp left and made a run for a group of abandoned raised houses on the edge of a forest. Eventually, in the dark, I was able to get behind one of the houses and crawled underneath one of them. I stayed close to a pillar in the center of the foundation so that I could shimmy my way around if I needed to hide from prying eyes.
I crawled through the mud and dirt under the building, ruining my brand new white sweater and made myself a home there, with a fat skunk and nutria rat nearby. Nutria rats look basically like big beavers with rat tails, I didn’t know they even existed before that trip and now, we were roommates.
It wasn’t long after that before at least three police cruisers showed up with their sirens flashing. One at each end of the field and another near the retirement home where we had been trespassing. My heart was in my throat and I felt like vomiting. I couldn’t even believe that this was happening to me, on a trip with my Police Foundations class too! I felt like a common hoodlum and I imagined all of the worst possible scenarios for how that night might end. Most of these scenarios ended with me in prison in America and I feared that I was just too pretty to survive my jail time rape-free.
Some time passed laying in the mud with my stomach churning, watching the cherries spin on top of the police cruisers in the distance. At one point, I saw my classmates walking down the road and they were flagged over by the officers. I was later told that while he was chasing me through the field, the others had time to sneak out a window at the back of the building and casually walked along the roadside as if nothing had ever happened. I was also told that the angry redneck was talking about how he was going to grab his gun and hunt me down. He had thought that I had made my way into the woods and disappeared, thankfully.
I had no idea what was said among the group but I had a feeling that everybody was going to end up in jail. I didn’t know what else to do but to just continue laying there, absolutely petrified until eventually the sirens were turned off and the police cruisers took off to my relief!
This was my life now. The life of a thug.
After probably another 30 minutes of laying under the building in the dirt and mud, I crawled out from underneath the house and lurked along the edge of the forest towards a road at the back of the field. After I reached the road, I walked along the ditch and if any car approached, I would walk down into the ditch and hide behind a tree until it had passed. Eventually, in this way, I was able to make it back to the old school where we were staying for the duration of our trip.
My group was out back smoking cigarettes when I arrived and they beamed with excitement when they saw me. We hugged it out a bit, and even though I wasn’t a smoker I had two cigarettes that night to calm my shaking hands.
The trip ended with our teacher being “very disappointed” in us, as the police had notified the charity that we were working for, of our group being likely trespassers. We were forced to make up for our foul deeds by helping a local to paint the exterior of his home in our free time. Most of us were ashamed and embarrassed by what had happened, yet I think we were mostly just naive and stupid young Canadians with a twisted sense of adventure.
However, it did make for an exciting, nausea-inducing story that I will likely never forget. I will always be thankful that things didn’t turn out any worse than they did that night.
The moral of the story: Just because you can explore what seems to be abandoned properties in Canada without much worry for repercussions, doesn’t mean that you should try it in the USA!
Have you ever gotten yourself into trouble accidentally?
I’d love to hear about it down below!