Preventing the Preventable in Aruba

    If you're like me at all (and you probably are), then you most likely feel on top of the world.  My main job is to attend school, the loans from which I will not endure for another couple years, and luckily, I get to party, travel and live it up as often as possible while planning for my future.  Not bad, right?

    So far, I've heeded some advice, while I blissfully ignored the advice others, and surprisingly some of the best advice came from a stranger I met while flying to Florida to meet my friends for a week in the sun.  The woman next to me politely inquired as to where I was traveling and once she knew, she asked if I packed the essentials like sun screen, flip flops, sunglasses, (I was waiting for beer bong) and lastly, common sense.  As she ventured to the cliché side, she told me "never leave home without your common sense."  At first I was appalled by her reference to that cheesy old commercial, but after moments of contemplation, I realized she was absolutely right.

    Now I think, if only Natalee Holloway could have encountered the same woman on her venture to Aruba.  After two months, the 17-year-old Alabama girl is still missing and presumed dead by many. Although multiple arrests have been made, her offender is still at large. In addition, Holloway’s parents are now asking Congress and Americans to boycott vacationing in Aruba.  Therein lies the rub: the problem isn’t Aruba, it’s us.

    Holloway was apparently partying it up at a nearby Carlos N' Charlies’ when she left her friends to leave with three men she met that night.  At this point, I don't care what her GPA is, what scholarship she might be on or what clubs she is involved in.  I hate to sound judgmental, but it appears as though this girl made a horrible error in judgment.  If you wouldn't leave with three men you just met at Humphrey's or the ghetto Shell, then it is not considered acceptable anywhere else either.  Holloway's situation is unfortunate in that her misstep probably cost her life, most of us are luckier than that, but it does not mean we should take it for granted.

    And, since I’ve already risked sounding judgmental, where in the hell were Holloway's friends at the bar?  The witnesses (her friends) claim to have seen her getting in the car with the three men, yet they did nothing to intervene.  Ladies, please watch your friend's back – it's part of the job.  What kind of a friend would let you leave with three creepy guys?  That just screams bad news.

    I realize that most college students fancy the drink; it’s part of the whole package, but no one can deny that it greatly undermines one’s common sense (probably one of alcohol’s most attractive features).  Nonetheless, given the bar and party scene, it is invariably important that we see Holloway’s tragic situation as an example.  I’m not saying don’t go get drunk, just please use a bit of common sense.  Don’t leave with someone you’ve just met, let alone three people, and keep a look out for your pals.  I would bet the regret Holloway’s best friends are feeling is unfathomable. 

    Holloway’s incident is not isolated by any means, and could easily occur anywhere.  Whether you’re are studying abroad in Madrid, Belgium or Italy, or vacationing in the Caribbean, Bahamas or Mexico, the possibility exists.  As my overprotective, worrisome mother always says, “Thirty seconds of bad judgment makes the difference between life and death.”

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