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My Summer Of Heists

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I wasn't always the clean-cut, straight-edged writer you know and love.

At 21 years old, I was a summer student at the University of Montreal. The end-of-semester French exam was looming, and I was on the bubble, grades wise. I desperately needed to do well, so I hunkered down and studied my ass off.

I'm kidding, of course; some classmates and I decided to steal the exam. Via an elaborate Ocean's Eleven-style heist, naturally. So one afternoon during lunch break, we made our way down to the teachers' floor. One of us kept the elevator doors open. Another was on hallway lookout. My job was to distract the woman at the service desk with small talk. (Not so easy in French, mes amis.) And being the least likely to draw attention to himself, my 6'9" pal Kyle ventured into the assignment room and nabbed the exam paper.

The coast clear, we bee-lined to the library, photocopied the papers, then darted back to the teachers' floor, each of us assuming our previously-assigned posts. The exam was returned, the duplicates were ours, the heist a success. Our wish had come true.

One glitch: we stole the wrong thing and tanked the test. Big time.

Looking back, it's clear the universe was teaching us a lesson about ethics and the value of honesty and hard work. I get it now: if we'd honestly worked harder at scoping out the assignment room, we'd have nabbed the right exam. Message received, universe; thanks for making me a better person.

I'd like to say my truant ways were limited to this ill-fated caper. Sadly, this was not the case. What I neglected to mention was why getting a decent grade was so vitally important: I was attending the course under my pal Cory's name, and he'd kick my ass if I failed it.

This scholastic bait and switch wasn't the most well-thought-out moment of our friendship. But hey, it was 1993: people were full-metal idiots in those days.


You see, a few weeks earlier, Cory was set to fly to Quebec to take said French class. But he nabbed a high-paying summer job at the last minute and didn't want to pass on the serious coin involved. So he sent me in his stead. Cory needed the credit to finish off his university degree, and I dug the idea of spending six inebriated weeks in Montreal with free room and board. It was win-win. (*)

(*) Local ordinances state it's illegal to be sober in Montreal between the months of June and August.

Of course, there was no chance we'd ever get away with such a devious plan. The Canadian post-secondary educational system had strict measures in place to prevent this sort of roguish behaviour. Checks and balances. Photo identification. A series of no-nonsense deans, each more by-the-books than the last.

Yet got away with it, we did. The first day of class, I simply said "Bonjour, je m'appel Cory" to my instructor and that was kind of that. I was him. Most impressively, nothing bad whatsoever happened as a result of this scheme. I got Cory his French credit (a C-minus, but screw you, French is hard) and he made a zillion dollars at his job in BC. Then he graduated university and is now extremely successful. Well, I'm assuming. We haven't really spoken since that summer.

Crap, I wonder if he's been hiding out all these years, waiting for me to tell him the coast is clear?

Crap, crap, crap. Kinda glad my delinquency days are behind me. I clearly ain't too good at this kind of thing.

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