Hotel Scare

Often, people learn about you from the things that they hear. It is pretty interesting just how often your name comes up in conversation when you are not around. Some have good things to say, others not. The unfortunate reality of this aspect of life is that we are not always around to defend our reputation. Weirdly, it is very rare that we speak on ourselves. Living your truth, your story, and putting it into writing is a liberating feeling. 

    I pride myself on being as humble of a person that I can be. A steady balance of confidence and humility goes a long way. Rather than describe myself with words, I prefer to speak through my actions. Your actions, and the way you carry yourself is the way you write your own story. Your story is constantly being written each moment, and people are constantly reading. An action that took place in my youth, exemplifies myself as a person far more explicitly than through words. 

    In January of 2008, at the age of nine years old, an event in my life took place that I will never forget. On this Saturday morning, my family and I were taking the weekend to celebrate the fifth birthday of my younger sister at a hotel. The group consisted of my grandmother, elder great aunt, younger sister, three younger cousins, and me. We woke up this morning without the presence of my grandmother, leaving me, as the oldest cousin, in charge. This was not rare for us, she often attended AA meetings every morning. However, this normal Saturday morning turned scary as the hotel fire alarm went off. Being as young as we were at the time, most of my younger cousins and siblings went into panic. As with most fire alarms, there is always the thought of, “is this a test?.” Or, “is this the real deal?.” In the midst of my panicking cousins, all eyes turned to me for comfort, safety, and a plan. As a nine year old, I was fearful myself, but I understood that keeping my composure was key. If everyone saw that I was calm, than everyone would remain a sense of comfort. I came to the conclusion that making our way to the hotel lobby was the best move for us. Making it there was not as easy as it seemed.

    The task ahead of us was steep, literally. We were staying on the 16th floor and very top floor of the hotel building. That is 16 flights of stairs for my great aunt, who uses a walker and has very bad asthma. Yet, we were on the move. Our journey down the stairs was brutal. It almost felt as if each story was taking ten minutes to conquer. Constant stops for pumps of air from the inhaler, and rest of legs for my great aunt. My younger cousins and siblings were crying with fear. Again, even though there was fear within myself, I understood that I had to continue to lead and instill comfort. Slowly but surely, about an hour later, we made our way to the lobby. What a journey. Just to find out that the alarm was a drill. 

    As we made it to the lobby, we let out a collective sigh of relief. Everyone was calm and back to normal. Although it felt all for nothing, seeing everyone relaxed made it all worthwhile. The manager of the hotel was impressed with the way I acted upon the fire drill. He told me that I showed great courage and leadership. He went on to inform the City of Wilmington of my story, and a few months later I was honored by the city. The City of Wilmington represented me with a “Youth Citizenship” award. That day was one of the most proudest moments for my family and I.

    The thing about that day, was that I didn’t need to be rewarded for me to feel proud. The simple fact that my family was ultimately safe was enough for me. I could have used the last 700 words using different adjectives to describe myself, but this story is more representative of who I am.


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