The Day That I Dodged a Redneck, his Dog, and the Police in New Orleans

The Friday Confessional: Stories From My Dark Side

I’m going to test out the waters on a new series of writings for my Friday posts. I thought it might be fun to share memories or experiences that I’ve had in my life where I wasn’t such a good boy. Experiences that are honest, open, raw and a bit naughty.

Back in 2009, I was enrolled in a Police Foundations program through a local college in my hometown. It was the final year of my course and we had one big trip planned to kick it all off with. Our teacher had decided to organize a trip down to New Orleans to spend a week with Habitat for Humanity to help to 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 resumé. When the time came, I drove a group of my classmates down to Louisiana to participate for a week.

Our first few nights in New Orleans, nothing had happened that was particularly wild and 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 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 centred around an old age home that 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 been staying there had died and that it was said to be haunted by some. Automatically, a bunch of us were intrigued by the thoughts of investigating this haunted facility and it was only a few blocks away from where we had been staying for our trip. This thought stayed 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 “abandoned” building to investigate. I believe we brought a bag or two full of alcoholic bevvies 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 as 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 knew 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 greeted 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 redneck 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 adrenalin 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 then I got down low and crawled underneath one of them staying close to a pillar in the centre so that I could shimmy my way around if I needed to hide from intruding eyes.

I crawled through the mud and dirt under the building, ruining my brand new white sweater I had just purchased in the city and made myself a home there with a fat skunk and nutria rat nearby. Nutria rats look basically just like big old beavers with rat tails in case you had no idea, I didn’t know they even existed before that trip.

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 time unraped.

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 begin to walk down the road and they were flagged over by the officers and the man who chased me through the field. 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 to casually walk along the roadside as if nothing had ever happened. I was also told that the 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.

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 retreated. This was my life now. The life of a thug.

After probably another 15 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 the road at the back of the field. After I reached the road, I walked along the ditch and if any car approached, I would crawl 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 still 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 nerves and 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 what had happened that night. We were forced to make up for our foul deeds by helping a local to paint the exterior of his home on an evening that was supposed to be free to us. Most of us were ashamed and embarrassed by what had happened, yet I think we were mostly just naive Canadians with a twisted sense of adventure.

However, it did make for an exciting, stupid, nausea-inducing story that I will likely never forget and 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 America!