No Drinking, No Drugs, No Stealing

October 2, 2007
By Jocelyn Tannenbaum, Congers, NY

It was an excruciatingly hot day in the middle of July when Sam stepped outside his grandparent’s house. He took a deep breath and inhaled the downtown air. “*Sigh* it was all for nothing, it wasn’t worth it…. Maybe this is a good thing though.” His parents decided to send him to Philadelphia to stay with his grandparents for a year. He didn’t really mind leaving New York for a year, probably because he didn’t have many friends and saw it as an opportunity to meet people. If his grandparents decided to let him out of the house that is. His last attempt to make friends didn’t go over to well and landed him…well…here. Usually he only got to see his family twice a month, but his parents thought he was misbehaving at home and needed some discipline. His grandparents were very strict and they knew sending him there could only be good.

From the kitchen, where he spent his morning washing dishes, he could hear all the vulgar language coming from across the city streets. Sometimes he couldn’t help but wonder why in the world his grandparents chose to live there. “Grandpa, why couldn’t you guys live somewhere normal like Florida?” “Why couldn’t you keep yourself out of trouble Sam? There are a lot of things in life we don’t know: don’t question it and get back to work.” Sam just let out a sigh and went back to washing dishes. He knew eventually they would let him out of the house: they weren’t completely heartless.
After a few days of nothing but running errands and cooking meals, Sam’s grandma finally let him go out and try and make some friends after convincing his grandpa. They figured if he was going to be there for a year, maybe it would be good for him to have some friends. He had to be back at 10 o’clock and not a second later. “No drinking, No drugs, No stealing…AGAIN *ahem*. I swear if you do anything stupid, you’ll be in so much trouble you won’t even know what hit you.” Every time he would leave the house his grandpa would scream the rules at him. He usually just pretended to listen and than eventually finally got to leave. Sam was just so excited to be getting away from the house that he didn’t care about the rules. He usually would take his bike and ride around the city and sometimes go see a movie, but he was getting a little bit lonely spending his summer hanging with himself, even if he was used to it. One night he eventually ran into some kids his own age hanging out outside of a convenient store. They weren’t really doing anything, just standing there smoking cigarettes and watching the cars go by. He was extremely excited when they noticed his new black Yankee hat and invited him to hang out with them.

For the next few weeks he would be helpful around the house during the day, and go hang out with his new friends at night. They were usually up to no good. Sometimes they would beat up people if they got in there way, other times they would steal things like alcohol from stores. Sam never really drank though; he just didn’t really see the point. They all wore the same jeans, white t-shirt, and a red bandana everyday. It wasn’t too long until Sam was given his red bandana. He wasn’t about to go change his style completely, but we was more than happy to wear the red bandana, in fact he never took it off. He saw it as an initiation and was ecstatic to be accepted. Sam knew the kids he was hanging out with were part of a gang, but since he wasn’t a very outspoken person, he didn’t say much of it. Besides, he was enjoying having friends way too much.

The summer was winding down, and there were only 3 weeks left until school. Sam and his new friends managed to get themselves in a lot of trouble, but his new friends always found a way to weasel themselves out of it. Whenever the cops would come Sam tended to keep to himself and just sit there innocently while his new friends talked their way out of anything and everything. Sometimes they would just jet out of there, Sam learned to run fast.

On his last day before school his friends decided to throw a huge party for him. The gang kids went to a public institution and Sam was going to a boarding school a few doors down; they knew they wouldn’t really see him much after today though. Sam never really drank before, but he decided to give it a chance. After two hours of hardcore drinking Sam found himself alone in a dark alleyway he’s never seen before with a bottle of Corona in his hand, really drunk and really dizzy. An old man was passing by, saw Sam and called the cops.

Sam woke up the next day to find himself in a jail cell, scared, cold, and alone. He looked around, and his eyes fixated on the guard: he wasn’t really sure what happened. His memory was dim, but after a few minutes of thinking hard he remembered how drunk he had gotten the night before. The guard noticed he was awake and started talking to him. Asking him if he remembered what happened or knew why he was there. After a good 20 minutes of questions the guard took him to another room where he had his mugshot and then his fingerprints done. He never knew he could be in so much trouble from such a small decision. Since he was 17 he could be charged as an adult and had to get a lawyer and appear in court. For the year his grandparents were his legal guardians so the hearing took place in Philadelphia a few days later. His record from when he left home wasn’t much help for him. When the court found him guilty for possession of alcohol and underage drinking, he felt like crying. Where were his friends to talk him out of trouble again? He wasn’t sure how to feel he just wished for this all to end. He was sentenced to a month in jail and three years probation starting the day he got out.

When his parents found out about this, they were so disappointed in him. They couldn’t even believe it; they stopped talking to him completely and lost touch with him. They made his grandparents his legal guardians and from that day forth he and his parents never spoke again. Everything just seemed to happen so fast, he didn’t know what to do. In the distance he heard an unfamiliar voice that got louder and louder. “All passengers please buckle up; the plane to Philadelphia will be landing shortly.” Sam woke up in a state of confusion, trying to figure out if what had just happened was a dream or not. When the plane landed and his grandparents were waiting for him: he knew it was just a dream. He knew what not to do, before he even did it.

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