Don’t Sleep on It


Today I was an innocent bystander.

In reflecting on past moral decisions, I have difficulty selecting one pivotal moment in my life that “changed” or “defined” me.  Rather, I consider the progression of my moral shape to take place over a series of decisions in varying circumstances.  Those decisions, in turn, mold who I am as a person and how I treat myself and others.

I will do my best to preserve anonymity in this story.

Yesterday, I traveled to New York City with certain classmates of management class to meet with alumni in the finance industry, tour the New York Stock Exchange and attend a We Do fundraising campaign event.  The evening was filled with fine food, intimate conversations with older people and, of course, drinking.  This morning, we hopped, or better yet, slumped, onto a bus back to Lewisburg.  Most of my classmates continued with the intoxicated debauchery throughout the 3-hour drive from the urban clutter of New York City to the sprawling green of Pennsylvania.  Somewhere between Blakeslee and Berwick, one of the members laid down in his double-seat and fell into a mild sleep.  Anxiously, a few ambitious members of the group beckoned for someone to draw on the passed out individual with a Sharpie marker.

Awake, tired and antsy, I realized I had two sharpies in my backpack below my seat.

After doing some thinking, and rebuffing my gut reaction, I decided to keep quiet.  Some deeper inclination kept me from adding fuel to the fire – I thought about all of the recent stories of group hazing, intended or unintended, and it ultimately deterred me from lurching for the marker.  I conclude two things – First, when alcohol is involved, always think twice.  Second, humoring members of a group by imposing on another, while exciting in the moment, can indeed be a humiliating act.

The scene continued when another classmate procured a highlighter from her travel bag.  Interestingly, however, no drawing occurred.  The individual who aimed the pen at the sleeper felt a wave of compassion, announcing “I’m too good a friend.”

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7 thoughts on “Don’t Sleep on It

  1. This is definitely a familiar situation. I think we’ve all been in some situation, whether we realized it or not, where hazing could easily occur. Hazing comes in so many different forms and can often seem like a harmless act, but these acts can always grow and become something more hurtful and more dangerous. I think it’s great that you realized right away that this was something you didn’t want to take part in. While a sharpie marker or highlighter probably wouldn’t cause significant physical or emotional damage, it represents something much larger. Knowing where your limit is and stepping away from something you don’t agree with is so important. Great job.

  2. First off I would like to tell you good job on restraining yourself from bringing out the sharpie. I myself have been put in many situations like this and have not been able to hold back on some harmless fun. I think the situation most depends on how well you know the person that is passed out. If it was someone that you don’t know very well then it is tough to mess with them. On the other hand if it is a close friend then they are certainly fair game in most cases.

    • IT is the harmlessness that is the crux of the matter.

      How can Scott or others know? Is the prank in a relationship of friendship and platonic love? My daughter complains I didn’t make her lunch. I tease her’ well, I don’t love you.” Sounds awful? She knows it isn’t true.

      The fact that the person is asleep and particularly vulnerable heightens everything about the potential to mistreat.

      And, hey, NOT offering up your marker is not a bystander. It is an act of non-participation.

  3. Haha, too serious? I don’t know. If it’s a crew of very closed friends, I probably will join the prank. But if just random people, I might do the same thing. I think it is really based on different situations. Sometimes, it might be a some interesting experience after all.

  4. You should have went against the public humility and took full responsibility of drawing yourself.

    I usually end up in the situation, when most of my friends are asleep. One or two friends of mine and I start drawing or doing different pranks on sleeping fellows. I have to say, doing pranks to one person as opposed to majority feels quite different. In your case, I would not have supported the drawing, but in the case I just described I definitely would.

  5. How about this: an ethic of moderation was missing. Drinking on Sunday morning? On a bus?

    Bucknell has a collective drinking problem, it seems.

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