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This is a question Caught!

MJPerry asks: Masturbating, stealing, making the cat dance... when did someone catch you doing something you wanted to remain secret?

(, Thu 3 Jun 2010, 14:01)
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When I was a 3rd year undergrad, I lived in a nice modern College-owned block that had student facilities and also a few really nice, swish conference rooms which were rented out for events and conferences to make a bit of extra money. If you wanted to go the whole hog and get a really big room, you could rent out the common room, which annoyed us lot because it meant our common room was shut to us.

The particular time in question it had been closed to students for a few days whilst some sort of conference had gone on, which had culminated in a load of people getting pissed up to celebrate the end of their 'away-day', or whatever it was, before sloping off in the late afternoon...

Straight away, an email goes round to tell people we're allowed back in the Common Room, so me and a few mates who were too busy/poor to have gone out for the evening headed down for a cuppa and a natter.

One thing stood out to us like an Oasis in the desert as we entered - there was a table left in the corner of the room with a few bottles of still-cool Champagne. Bonus! For a poor undergrad, of course, free booze is the ultimate thing to make your day, and we all gave thanks for this incredible blessing....

Then, we opened the fridge.

Other than a couple of milk-cartons, it was jam-packed with more Champagne. Just sitting there - shiny, cold, and expensive looking... Shit! The tension of an unspoken, but universally felt doubt hung in the air.... This was an amazing opportunity, clearly, and had fallen into our laps without our asking. At the same time, however, what had originally been a chance to swipe a couple of bottles had just escalated to a question of pilfering 200 plus worth of (very heavy) booze. Of course, we were going to do it. We couldn't really help ourselves. How could we live with ourselves if we passed this up?

Coat pockets were loaded, and we each grabbed a bottle or two under our jackets.... we still only had about half of it. One trip up to the nearest of our rooms to dump what we had, and we headed back down to the Common Room with bags.

This is where it all went wrong. In our desire to get the booze out as fast as possible, we'd ignored the CCTV Camera outside the Common Room, so Nigel, the porter, had been sitting in his little office at the gate to the complex, watching us wander out of the Common Room laden with booze. Naturally, his curiosity was aroused. Just as we were loading the remainder of our loot into bags, in walks Nige.

'Hello Lads. What's happening here, then?'

We all froze. It was like a cliched scene in a film where someone's caught in the act. He might as well have had a gun trained on us, for the way we reacted...

'Someone left this behind Nige, so we were just thinking about having a bit of a drink, mate.'
'Hmmm... I don't know how they'd feel about that, now... What do you reckon?'

Another pause...

'Reckon it serves the silly bastards right, to be honest, Nige'

He thought, for a moment. Our fates hung in the balance - whilst this wasn't necessarily going to get anyone prosecuted/kicked out of college, it certainly wasn't going to look good. We also had a Dean who was remarkably fond of giving out cash fines, and we were all broke (which, you will recall, had partly led to this in the first place, as we weren't out like everyone else, getting pissed). He was a decent Man, Nigel, but that could also swing him either way in this situation - he might decide that he could let this one go, or he might decide we were thieving toerags who deserved what we got.

Having mulled it over, he drew in breath to deliver his judgment...

'My Missus is quite fond of Champagne, you know.'
'Really, Nige. Why don't you have a bottle, then...'
'My daughter's home this weekend too.'
'Take two - plenty to go round...'
'Alright... I would thank you, like, but it's not yours anyhow, is it...'

Hmmm... what to make of this? Our bribe had been accepted, but he was still a bit frosty. He took his two bottles, and withdrew. The question of whether he'd betray our confidence or not would now only be resolved tomorrow, when the fallout from the missing booze would no doubt happen. In the meantime, we had a room full of Champagne. So we got pissed. Royally pissed. The effect of getting drunk solely on the fizzy stuff was euphoric. We had so much we actually struggled to drink it. The party went on for hours. As it wore on, we introduced a competitive element by seeing how far out of the window we could fire the champagne corks when it was time to open a new bottle. Eventually, of course, we went to sleep.

Next morning, 7am, there was a loud banging on the door of the chief instigator and negotiator from last night. Understandably, waking with a shocking hangover and recalling the previous night's events, and our total reliance on Nige to keep schtum, he was shitting himself. Moving to the door and opening it to peek round, he finds Nige, back on shift and still with a look of disapproval in his eyes, despite the bribe.

'Whilst I don't especially want to mention yesterday EVER again, I would suggest that you get rid of the bottles discreetly, do you understand?'
'Yes Nige.'
'And soon...'
'Yes Nige'
'...probably now - before the cleaners turn up at 8am.
'Yes Nige'

So we were each rounded up, given a binliner each, and formed a slovenly, drunken procession out of the back door of the building (no CCTV), and down to the recycling bins on the council estate nearby, then we slumped into bed.

Inevitably, questions were asked the next day. An email went around asking for information about what had happened and chastening the entire student body for what had happened, and the effect it had had on the college's relations with its paying customers.... but nothing came out. We were well and truly protected by our inside man, bought off with his two bottles of Champers.

The note that ended up going out to the company who had rented the room apparently read "Regrettably, when such items are left unsecured in the Common Room of a student residence, after an event had finished and after the room was no longer, in fact, rented to yourselves, these sort of things are liable to happen and the College can accept no responsibility."

Thanks Nige...
(, Thu 3 Jun 2010, 16:56, closed)

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