Here it finally is! The long-awaited conclusion to the Spring Break Accidental Road Trip! Sorry to keep you waiting!
Back on the freeway, we were now closer than ever to our goal-Daytona Beach. We continued to talk about how unbelievable it was that our campus would leave without us. One of the things keeping us going was our desire to somehow retaliate, to let them have it for leaving like that.
Daytona Beach is on the east coast of Florida. To get there from Atlanta you drive a little over 400 miles. It was dark by the time we crossed the bridge into Daytona proper and traffic was moving slowly on Highway 1, or “The One” as it’s called. Sandy and I eventually pulled into the parking lot of the hotel where the conference was taking place that year. The marquee read, “Welcome Campus Crusaders” or something like that.
By now, the conference had already begun. As we entered the lobby to check in, there were college students everywhere but no sign of anyone from our campus. After getting the keys to our respective rooms, we got on the elevator.
In the elevator with us were two student girls. While it’s normally silent in an elevator, at a CCC conference where most people know each other, that norm is disregarded. We couldn’t believe it when one girl said to the other, “Did you hear about the student guy and staff girl that were left behind by their campus?” (I am not making this up!).
“Yes! We heard about them. And you know what else?” The other girl responded.
“What?” The first girl said as we listened in to their conversation, them not knowing we were the ones they were talking about.
“I heard they got married on the way down!”
Seriously, I am not making this up! Somehow a rumor got started that we were in love and decided to get married on the drive down! As the girl said that my eyes met Sandy’s, both of us trying to suppress our expressions of disbelief.
We kept silent, left the elevator, and eventually unloaded our things in our respective rooms. The elevator conversation tipped us off that people heard we were driving down so we figured our campus friends must have known we would show up sometime. Did they care? Were they even concerned about us?
I got cleaned up and made my way back to the lobby and somehow I must have heard that my friends were on the beach hanging out together. I walked out there and, seeing them, walked towards them and shouted, “Hey! I think you forgot something!”
Suddenly I was mobbed. Between shouts of, “You made it!” and “We are so sorry!” my friends whom I thought abandoned me treated me like a long, lost son. Had there been a fattened calf nearby I’m sure someone would have killed it and made a feast.
As we talked I began to piece together their side of the story. Not only did they not want to leave without us, they did almost everything in their power to stop the bus from driving off. Apparently the bus driver insisted that he needed to stay on schedule and, after our three hour delay, decided it was time to leave and that was that.
I learned my friends begged and pleaded for him to wait for us. Some cried. One CCC staff member even stood in front of the bus in an act of defiance. Nothing worked. We also learned that, in order to make up time, the bus driver refused to stop more than twice during the whole trip down. People said they were miserable most of the way there.
So that’s my story. And, while Sandy and I never married (or dated for that matter), we did form a lasting friendship. And even though our contact now mainly consists of Facebook wall posts now and then, we do share a bond. It’s a bond that taught me sometimes you miss one thing to gain another.