Higher Living on Couches

By Chad Anthony on August 1, 2013

“Ordinary” would not be a word to describe my three month break from college.


I ended my junior year having recently switched from Pre-Med to English, with some quarter-life crisis thrown in there for good measure.  Needing to get out of dodge go home to South Florida for summer, I began the drive by picking up a friend in Lexington, Kentucky.  The air filled with a sense of adventure as cup holders housed RedBull cans and ClifBar wrappers.  We headed southeast for Charlotte, NC to stay the night with a family member.  No more than 10 hours passed when the engine started yet again and the city could only be seen in the rear view mirror.  I contacted a friend at Coker College who had agreed to put us up for the night.  For those not familiar with the fearsome Cobras, the 1,200 student college fits neatly into the small town of Hartsville, SC.  We spent, similar to before, roughly 12 hours in the town.  Not because we were on a time crunch, but because that’s all the time you need to spend in a college town of that size.  We tackled the last leg of the drive munchies in hand to Daytona Beach.  Reason being?  Dayton2Daytona.  I sadly couldn’t attend due to my being under 21 at the time (additionally, not owning a fake ID).  I dropped my road trip friend off to the booze-soaked grips of D2D as I continued my drive west to Orlando to stay at my brother and his girlfriend’s place.  Initially, the plan was to stay a couple relaxing days, pack up and go home to South Florida; however, plans change.

12 hours after dropping my bags, I scored a line cook gig at a breakfast joint run by two French pastry chefs.  The day after my first 12-hour shift cooking professionally another job opened up.  I became bartender and oyster-shucker at a New Orleans-inspired seafood dive bar, the #7 restaurant in the city.  No sooner did I realize that the #7 restaurant in the city is loosely run by a half-drunk Vietnamese man.  His staff consisted of a mid-20′s nomad whose motto was “I know better because I’ve been in the business for a long time,” her ‘boo’,  a fire-cracker 16 year old Vietnamese chick, an elderly hotel restaurant veteran who never became frazzled in the rush of orders, and me.  As if the lunacy wasn’t enough to make me quit, the staff screwed me on my days tips.  I never returned.  At the cafe, I began almost an apprenticeship with the head baker and co-owner, or so  I thought.  Three weeks in, my ass met the curb.  I was out of a job and still needing to pay bills and two speeding tickets (thank you, Dayton 3rd Street camera and Jefferson County, SC).  I ventured home for a couple days, made quick cash, and went back up to Disney town with determination and slight confusion.  I quickly got my third job in one month working at a sandwich shop.  There was less pay but free sandwiches.  I can’t say no to free sandwiches.  

Life remained pretty steady until I had to move out for a week while the roommate came to terms with my living on the couch.  I bounced in between my brothers place and  a chef friends’ apartment in order to seem ‘more scarce.’  Inevitably, I permanently stayed on my brothers couch.  We spent some much needed time together, raged when we weren’t working, and cooked to stifle the hangovers and hunger pains.  South Florida family visits to Disney became an occasion.  It felt like vacation.  As I pack for yet another drive up to Ohio, I reflect.

It really is the little things that count, except wave runners.  Those are expensive and cool as shit.

Chad Anthony attends the University of Dayton, on track for a degree in English. He writes and cooks, while having a weird obsession for hot tea.

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