Peer Pressure

Story by Connor JaschenFeatures Editor

I grew up in a medium-sized town: just big enough to have a whole bunch of snot-nosed kids and just small enough for none of said brats to have something to do. Thus, we tended to make our own fun one way or another.

Now I was probably the one with the most sense of my group of friends – and by sense I mean will to survive. However, peer pressure is one heck of an influence, so young Connor had a tendency to just kind of go with the crowd.

In my freshman year of high school, we decided to head to one of the closed off rock quarries to swim. Since it wasn’t exactly legal, we were careful about how we got there. We would all pile in the back of a friend’s car, park in some dirt lot a mile down the road and then walk the railroad tracks all the way to that glorious stomping ground of ours.

The walk from that point was pretty secluded. You only ever really had to watch out for when the train would come, but they aren’t exactly the most quiet of machines, so when we saw or heard it, we would just step off to the side and let it pass.

This particular time, though, there was a train parked on the track, not making so much as the occasional lurch forward. Not thinking much of it, we continued the trek we had made dozens of times beforehand.

About halfway through the walk, the train jolted to life, lurching forward, barely faster than we were.

My group definitely had a leader, who was probably the most reckless of us all, and his name was Joe. I love Joe to death, but I can never really trust all his decisions, mostly because I’m not sure about the decision-making process in the first place, or if there is one at all.

Without a word, Joe grabbed a handle on the outside of the train and hopped on to the train, looking back only to smile as he rode off past us.

I was astounded to say the least.

“I would never do that,” younger me thought.

That was until my next friend jumped on, and then the next, until finally I was the only one not latched on to the beastly contraption of metal and rust. They motioned me to come on, shouting and jeering at me. So I jumped on, too.

It was dangerous and stupid, but I took the chance. Joe actually ended up climbing to the top of the train car, sprinting across and leaping to the next one, all while the train continued to pick up speed.

I, however, knew my limit and decided I wasn’t Bruce Willis from “Die Hard.” I stayed right where I was, enjoying the wind through my hair.

We hopped off just before we reached the quarry, when we decided the train was getting too fast. Minus a few scrapes from the dismount, we were fine.

The point is, while jumping from trains is probably a pretty dumb idea, sometimes you have to take a chance. Giving in to peer pressure may not always be the best idea, but sometimes you just can’t let that train pass you.

Hop on that metaphorical train and wipe that smug grin off your friend’s face, but most of all, enjoy every minute of it.