Published: Jun 11, 2012 08:08 PM
Modified: Jun 11, 2012 08:10 PM
The police officers told us we would have gone to jail if they had caught me driving. So we got lucky.
The car was pointed sideways when it died in the middle of the road. I was an hour away from home. I didn’t have a driver’s license.
I was scared. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. My friend Omar was with me, and he was laughing, but with fear in his eyes. I had not even told my mom where I was. I was scared to call her. My day had gone from great to disastrous.
Later that same night I realized that following somebody else’s footsteps can lead me into trouble. This frightening situation could have been different if I would have been a leader instead of a follower.
It all started when I was selling popcorn for the Walk for Education. It was a bright sunny day, hot, not too windy. I was getting ready to go home with Omar and our friend Randy. As the sun was going down I saw somebody coming toward me. I could see he was wearing blue jeans, dress shoes and a black jacket. As he got close enough for me to see his face, I saw it was my friend Alex. Alex told me he had bought a new car and asked if I wanted to go to McDonald’s.
At the moment I had the choice to go home with Randy or go for a ride. I didn’t expect I would get in the upcoming situation if I just went to eat. If I had been my own leader that day I would have gone home with my family. I didn’t think of the risks that would be ahead.
When we were at McDonald’s Alex’s phone started to ring. After his phone call, he asked us if we wanted to come with him to his girlfriend’s house. Omar and I had nothing else to do, so we said yes.
As we were on the road we were blasting music, having the time of our lives. Thirty minutes had passed by. We asked. “Hey dude, how much longer until we get there?” Alex said, “Thirty minutes more.” Omar and I yelled, “WHAT!” We needed to go home. It was already 8 p.m. at the time.
We stopped at Burger King, where we were going to meet Alex’s girlfriend. When we got out of the car he threw me the keys. He said, “I’m going to stay with my girlfriend. You guys go home.”
I was in such a shock because I never thought he would leave me. I had no other choice but to take the keys and drive home. I didn’t know how to drive and neither did Omar, but I had an idea of what to do.
While I started the car you could hear the sound of my heart while it was beating fast. It was almost like a drum, but somebody was beating it. I was so scared. Everything on my mind went blank. The only thing on my mind was getting home.
On our way home the car started to smoke. I thought I was seeing things because of how scared I was. Omar yelled, “SMOKE! YOU HAVE TO PULL ASIDE!” As I was driving the car to the side of the road, the car just died on us.
We got out of the car in shock. Five minutes later two police cars came. As I saw the bright lights I thought to myself, if I don’t change who I am then I won’t learn a thing from what’s happening to me right at this moment.
I told myself I needed to change so nothing like this could happen to me again. We told the police everything that happened, and they let us go. The officers told us we would have gone to jail if they had caught me driving. So we got lucky that we were safe and that we didn’t go to jail.
As my mom was coming, I thought to myself, I can’t rely on my friends all the time. Being a leader is somebody who is encouraging and doesn’t always care what people say, think, or do. If I were to go back, I would have arranged for myself to go home.
I always end up getting into situations like these. I need to be a leader, which means always thinking of the consequences, not being impulsive, thinking ahead and not going with the flow.
Every time I have the choice to change my path, I hope to choose the right way that doesn’t get me into trouble. I want to lead myself into my own future instead of having to wait for surprises. In life, people will make mistakes, but I’m trying to change how I make my decisions.
Ruben Angulo is a junior at Carrboro High School. He loves writing and playing soccer. He is a member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ Blue Ribbon Youth Leadership Institute.