All I wanted was pancakes. What I got was questioning by the United States Marshals.
I was a senior in high school, and it was time for my final state FBLA conference. There were too many attending schools for everybody to stay in the conference center – the Ramada Hotel – and our school lost the lottery, so we were staying at the Super 8 across the street.
The hotel didn’t have enough rooms for our entire school to stay on the same floor, so the three senior girls – Desi, Kenzie, and myself – were staying on a floor separate from the rest our group.
As we went to our room later that night, we happened to be in the hallway at the same time as our neighbor for the evening. We weren’t exactly proud to be judging a book by its cover, but we thought it might be in our best interest to keep to ourselves.
The following morning there was repeated knocking on our neighbor’s door. All I wanted was to go down to the lobby and microwave my pancakes, but I wanted or neighbor’s guests to leave the hallway first.
The knocking continued. I looked through the peep hole. People were in the hall. More knocking. My stomach growled.
“Screw it,” I said, “I want pancakes,” as I went out into the hall.
No sooner had I opened the door than I came face to face with two armed United States Marshals in full gear. I stopped in my tracks; I dropped the package of pancakes to the floor. Had it not been such a serious situation, the marshal probably would have laughed at me.
“Mam, can I ask you a few questions?”
I nodded as he led me around the corner. The pancakes stayed on the floor.
“Have you seen your neighbor across the hall?”
“Um, um. Only briefly. We’ve um been trying to keep to ourselves. He kind of looked… well, we were trying not to judge, but he looked…”
“Is this him?” The marshal showed me a photo of a man in an orange jumpsuit. The word “escaped” ran across the news story photo.
My eyes got big. I pursed my lips and tightened my face muscles in stress. I nodded in assurance, unable to speak.
We stood there, the marshal nodding his head for a few moments. And a few more moments as he processed the information.
“Sir, um what do you want me to do?”
“Just go back to your room. We’ll tell you when it’s clear.”
As I walked through my doorway, I picked up the pancakes.
Kenzie and Desi were still asleep. I nudged them awake, encouraging them to put on shoes and grab their purse or other important items.
I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I thought we should be ready to leave in a hurry.
The knocking on the door outside got louder. The marshals kicked it in. There was screaming and more commotion. My friend Jonah, with no regard for his personal safety, went to investigate. He says a naked lady ran out of the room at one point.
The man was arrested. We called our teachers who were already at the Ramada Conference Center. They told us “jokes like this aren’t funny.” We told them we weren’t joking.
As we looked out our window, we could see Mr. Hinkel running from the conference center. He said we should feel special because that’s the first running he had done since college. I’m not sure I care to be that special.
I never did get my pancakes.