“Ok guys, just in case something happens: I’m at 1417 Hinman Ave. Because this place is sketchy and the woman sounded mad.”
This was the last message I sent to my friends in our GroupMe chat before disappearing for two hours. They had absolutely no idea where I was.
I had headed into town alone in search of interviews for my feature story following our afternoon lecture. This was pretty normal. Everybody was heading downtown to talk with people for their stories.
I had told my friends I was planning to do interviews, but after a while they started wondering where I was.
“We were like, ‘Wait, where’s Allison? It’s been hours since we last heard from her,’” my friend Ilena Pengof Cupertino, California, said.
Annie Zavitz, my roommate of Missoula, Montana, then texted me: “are u doing ok?”
When I didn’t reply to her text, my friends got even more worried. Bella Paredes of Plainfield, Illinois, said she told Annie to call me.
“You picked up, but it was a butt answer,” Bella said. “All we could hear were muffled sounds and we were freaking out, thinking ‘What if she picked up the phone but can’t talk because she’s kidnapped or something?’”
At this point, they were getting desperate. They checked Snapchat’s map feature to try to track me down, but the most recent location they were able to see was 90 minutes old.
Eventually, I called Annie back at 6:45 p.m., two hours after my last message to her.
“No, I’m not lost, I’m OK,” I told her. I had been interviewing a staff member at a family homeless shelter and although my source was mad at me at the beginning of the interview, everything turned out fine in the end.
My friends were relieved when they heard my voice on the other side of the call. When I got back to the dorm’s common area, Annie and Bella announced my arrival to the others before I entered.
Looking back on this experience, I can say I definitely learned that a reporter should always be aware of their surroundings.
When my friends thought I was lost, I had no idea they’d get so worried. But the moment I called Annie back and heard her voice half yelling, “Allison, are you OK? Where are you?” I knew how much she cared and that our friendship would last a lifetime.