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James Macdonald

Second Place: James Quinlan MacDonald

Quincy, MA

I am a senior, currently attending Boston College High School and will be attending Bates College next fall. I currently plan on majoring in Economics, but am still in search of what I am truly passionate about.


It’s 1 A.M. The house lights throughout the neighborhood have gradually turned off to the point where the party I am at is the only house illuminated on the block. Though it’s dark, the thick clouds make their presence known with the absence of stars in the night sky. I walk outside to get something from my car when I notice an old friend of mine stumbling out the front door a couple minutes afterwards. Later I would come to an understanding that my old pal was becoming too obnoxious and had been kicked out. He tries to whip out his keys, but drops them several times before he can get a grip.

“Hey! I haven’t seen you in forever. How have you been?” I say.

“Feeling better than ever,” as he fights to keep balanced.

I can smell the alcohol on his breathe as if he just drank the whole keg himself.

“Can I get you some help? You look like you’re struggling a bit” I offer.

Memories of a friend almost getting killed while driving drunk have made me jump into action. Not again! Not on my watch! Tonight is his lucky night, as I haven’t had a drink all night. I had planned on being designated driver for other friends at the party. Having accomplished my goal on not having a drink until my twenty-first birthday, I have had many experiences seeing the effects of alcohol on my friends as they go from happy to out of control to the point where they can’t function normally.

“It’s cool man, I got this” he says as he fiddles with and drops his keys yet another time. I can not bear to watch anymore so I pick up the keys for him, take off the key for his car without him seeing and give the clip back to him. By now I have assessed that he’s not angry or argumentative, rather he’s just clumsy and can’t help himself.

I run inside for a moment to let my friends know that I am leaving but will soon return. When I come back outside, I offer to drive my friend home. “I care too much about you to let you drive home in your condition. Hop in, consider me your private chauffeur” I say to lighten the mood. Thankfully this works and next thing I know he’s in the passenger seat giving me his address. Surprisingly, my GPS tells me the location is merely 15 minutes away, but even this short ride could have been long enough for my friend to make some fatal mistake. This drive takes my friend and I back down memory lane, as we recollect about days in high school and how our lives moved on when we attended different colleges. The address he had given me was of the house he grew up in, not the fraternity he told me about, but from the reactions of his parents, I am sure they are glad he chose family rather than going with friends. His
parents thanked me for helping their son, and I drove back to the party to pick up my other friends, fulfilling my duty as designated driver.

Driving drunk, no matter who it is and no matter how much alcohol is involved, can be extremely dangerous. Driving at night time is bad enough, when headlights from the opposite direction can affect a driver’s vision. Chances for an accident increase immensely when alcohol is added to the mix. With impaired judgement, drivers who are intoxicated may not notice a person crossing the street, or even a person just walking on the sidewalk. These accidents can be fatal for anyone involved. Earlier this month, in my hometown of Quincy, a man in his early twenties was driving while drunk and crashed his car into seven parked cars on a neighborhood street. He rammed cars into each other, and even hit one with such force that it was flipped on top of another nearby. Thankfully there were no major injuries and no other persons were in these cars, as the accident took place just after midnight. Had it happened earlier in the evening or on a busy highway rather than in a quiet neighborhood, he may have done damage to more than just property and have pay a few more medical bills.