By Nick England
You think I would have learned my lesson by now. I grew up in Dallas, lived there for 18 wonderful years from the sandbox to some other “s” word about my high school greatness. Then I left and went to Oklahoma for four and half years and came back to the DFW. After all of my years here, being a somewhat seasoned DFWian (just sound it out, it rolls off the tongue nicely) I still forget that the traffic is absolutely terrible. Tyler Rogers and I left the house at NOON on a SATURDAY and traffic was so backed up, what normally takes a little over 20 minutes took 45! Loop 820 is such a nightmare these days, I can’t blame Ft. Worth for not wanting to do construction. Driving on 820 is like Black Friday at Wal-Mart. There’s no guarantee you’re going to make it out alive and you can’t figure out why so many people are there at that hour. So we finally get to the airport just in time for me to get to the gate during the boarding process. To which you might say to me, “That’s great, Nick! You made it!” To which I say, “But I didn’t get a chance to get food before I got on the plane! And while supposedly cows have four stomachs, I only have have one and can still give them a run for their money…as long as we’re not eating grass.” I guess technically, I could have stopped at Auntie Ann’s for a salted pretzel but I didn’t for two reasons. A: I hate salted pretzels, I find them detestable. B: The pretzels that sit in those fluorescent, plexiglass coffins have been baking on those sticks since Orville and Wilbur first invented the airplane. 
So I got on the plane and shoved my bag in the overhead compartment. I’m packing lighter and lighter these days. You see, I am part of a dying breed of people who actually own a bag that meets carry-on specifications. Everyone else is bringing aboard these bags that are bulging so much, I’m almost certain they’ve somehow zipped up their children. As a result, my bag just gets squashed. Anyways, I get situated on the plane and that’s when it gets awkward. Have you ever run into those people who feel like the rules don’t apply to them? This is common in children, cats and NFL players. In the case of Delta flight 1924, it happened to be a grown man who didn’t really see a need to get off his cell phone. Even while the flight attendant was looking at him, telling him to get off the phone, he simply started staring at the floor. What’s more, is that he wasn’t trying to be discreet about his conversation! I think the ground crew could probably hear this guy yak about something entirely unimportant. For a second I labored under the delusion that it was actually a child who had zipped his parents up in the suitcase instead of vice versa. I quickly ditched that conclusion as it was more probable that he just played professional football at some point.
I arrived in Atlanta to be met by Clint Brown, pledge captain, and Ryan Wade, chaplain. It was a joyous occasion immediately followed by a trip to the nearest restaurant (without a salted pretzel) where I ordered half the menu. After engorging myself, we hit the road for Auburn. Once we got there, I hung out with Clint for a little bit and he introduced me to Call of Duty. Now, before you gasp, let me explain something. I own a Nintendo, Super Nintendo, a 64 and a PS2. The only reason I actually have a PS2 is because they were out around the same time DVD players were really necessary and I told my mom that she should just go buy a PS2 instead. To this day, I’m still impressed it actually worked. I was unlucky, however, with the Corvette approach when I turned 16. Anyways, my video game knowledge is limited to ancient Nintendo games and Tony Hawk. So naturally, the last time I played a first person shooter game was Goldeneye. Needless to say, Clint got me hooked on the game. Not to worry though, it would come down to spending money on a PS3 and the game itself or not eat and stay inside for a month. I’ll choose food every time.
After a rousing mission on Call of Duty, Clint and I met a bunch of the members at Auburn’s famous restaurant, Momma Goldberg’s. After dinner, we realized that one the members, JJ, left his digital camera…bad idea, JJ. We proceeded to take pictures of the rest of us doing parkour around the parking lot. Following the madness that was parkour, a few of us got some ice cream and then Clint and I went back to his place and watched Godfather II. I personally could not think of a better way to end the day.
The next morning, we woke up for a day filled with adventure. Clint and I, along with six other men set out to go on a kayaking trip down the Coosa River. We arrived at the kayaking place and met some [insert Alabama redneck adjective] people who were ready to go kayaking as well. So we loaded up in the van and they dropped us off up the river and we set sail…or rather set paddle. It was a beautiful day for such a trip. We journeyed down the Coosa river, just us guys, while the Sun bathed our shoulders and the wind kissed our face. A day like this comes along only once, maybe twice in one’s life. We encountered dragonflies, class 3 rapids, and river people. The kind you hear about in Creedence Clearwater songs. Except for the fact that Clint actually paddled through one of the “River People Communities” aka “Redneck Village Down A Really Creepy Shoot Off From The Actual River”. Maybe he was humming Proud Mary at the time, but not all of the people on the river are happy to give. And that was the last we ever saw of Clint.
Just kidding, he caught up to us and we finished the trip safe and sound. We grabbed some dinner at a Mexican restaurant when we left, and since none of us had eaten lunch, I think four of us exhausted the chip and salsa supply of Northern Alabama (equal to 1/10th of San Antonio’s chip and salsa supply). Then we left and headed back to Auburn to make it back for officer meeting. It was a good meeting from which Clint and I left to go play Call of Duty…for a very long time.
The next day I met with each of the officers to check in and catch up with each of them. My meetings went great and each of the officers is really fitting into their roles well. I am amazed sometimes that the Auburn chapter began in October of 2008 and they are doing so well already. I’m eager to see what the Lord is going to do over the next few semesters in their chapter.
I went to dinner that night with all of the officers at Veggies To Go. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Nick, why would you go through a drive-thru to get a cup of steamed vegetables! That’s not like you!” There was a day when I thought the same thing, my friend. But Veggies To Go is a delicious place to get a great dinner with a very misleading name. I had the chicken fingers, mac and cheese, fried okra, and apple cobbler. Following dinner we went to get ready for chapter meeting, which is held at the Auburn chapel. I had the opportunity to encourage the men to strive more and more to be a legitimate fraternity in various ways and work hard to engage their campus. The men in the chapter really are driven towards this which was made evident when I got to sit on pledge meeting that night. The newly initiated pledges are a great addition to the fraternity and are going to continue to push the fraternity to radiate brotherhood and unity.
All in all, it was a great trip to Auburn. And I came away learning ten very valuable things.
10. Veggies To Go needs to change its name.
9. Just because you think it’s bottomless chips and salsa, doesn’t mean they won’t give you a dirty look after your fourth basket of chips in 15 minutes.
8. Accidentally leaving your camera with your friends doesn’t mean it’s going to be returned in the same “condition” it was found in.
7. If I want to get to DFW airport on time, I need to just leave a few days earlier and travel on foot.
6. I should start using a quart sized ziplock bag for my carry on, and not just for the liquids.
5. There is a difference between Alabama rednecks, and rednecks in other parts of the country.
4. Possessing the maturity of a six year-old is not just unique to NFL players.
3. There are many NCAA football players who act like 5 year-olds.
2. Call of Duty is an incredible waste of time and I have no problem with that.
1. Never trust river people. Even if they are happy to give doesn’t mean you always want what they have to offer.