What It Was Like To Run With The Bulls

What It Was Like To Run With The Bulls

It’s 8 a.m. in Spain and I am attempting to fight off an ongoing hangover and a sleepless night.

Never in my life have I experienced anything like this. I could never have pictured this a few years ago. If someone were to tell me “Chris, you know what you will be doing at 22? You’ll be running for your life” I’d laugh. There is just no other response I could have made. But here I am, It’s 8 a.m. in Spain and I am attempting to fight off an ongoing hangover and exhausted from a night of zero sleep.

I am in a sea of red and white. There is barely enough room for me to breath let alone collect my thoughts. Having just been able to squeeze through a wooden fence and maneuver through a crowd of people I look to my left and right. I see a multitude of emotions. Excitement. Fear. Adrenaline. Exhaustion. Anxiety. All of which I am feeling right now. A gunshot goes off. Everyone is still.

I can’t believe I am doing this. What is wrong with me? Who in their right mind willfully signs up to run from bulls. It’s absolutely ludicrous. It actually makes me laugh that people say “running with the bulls” as if it is just a brisk jog with a dozen 2,400-pound animals. As if these beasts aren’t able to kill you with a single thrust of their horns.

A second gunshot is fired. Finally, I can breathe. There is a breeze that slips through the gaps in people as everyone takes off in a slow paced jog. Even if you wanted to sprint, you wouldn’t be able to. There are just too many people. I make the first turn and then it finally opens up. Every few moments I turn around to see where these monsters are but I am afraid that if I look too long I’ll trip and that’ll be the end of me.

I almost wish I wasn’t told this before I ran, but no use in crying over spilled milk now. Every year people die. Last year tied the record for 10 deaths. But this isn’t the full story. They only count those who die during the run as deaths. Anyone who bleeds out in the hospital or from complications doesn’t count. I am not sure how true this is, but it’s enough to send a chill down my spine.

My heart is beating a million miles per hour. I am not sure how far I have ran but I know it must be over soon. I have yet to see a bull. How can I say I ran with the bulls if I have not seen one? I begin to slow down. I went from a sprint to a jog. Everything around me is blurred. All I hear are screams of the crowd. All I see is a flash of skin, red, and white. I continue to jog thinking to myself is it really worth it. I still ran with the bulls whether I see a bull or not. Or did I?

I ran cross country and track from 7th to 11th grade. That is 4 years of running for the sake of running. I tell myself that all the of practice lead me to this moment. But then I realize how silly that is. This is only a half mile run. 826 meters. That is it. That means last year every 264 feet someone died.

I come to a near dead stop. I look around. I can’t believe that I am doing this. I decide that I will not finish this race without seeing a bull. My speed is hardly power walking and the crowd flows around me like I am just a misplaced rock in a stream. I turn my head around every few seconds torn between wanting to see horns and not. My attention turns to the crowd as their roar crescendos. As I look back to the street I realize that the sea of red and white is moving faster. I know that the next time I turn around, it may be my last.

How did this event even start? Who in the village decided it would be a good idea to let bulls roam free? Was he just the local goon who decided this would be the day he watched his city burn? How did he feel when the city of Pamplona decided to turn this into week long holiday? I don’t think that this could have turned any more ironic even if an author wrote it. Sometimes you are not able to put the pieces together, and this is one of them.

I turn my head and I see fear. I don’t feel it, but I can see it. It’s an emotion that when you see it on another's faced it just travels down your spine. Then I see it. The porcelain color of a horn. It begins to grow as more appear around the corner. Before I know it I can hear the stomping of its feet. I can see their black beady eyes. It feels like a weight was just dropped in my stomach. I face forward as my body is turned into overdrive. I every muscle fiber working together like a symphony. All I can see is a pin-size hole in front of me. All I can see is the next few feet in front of me. I maneuver through the crowd as I make out in the distance the stadium that is the finish line. I am less than 30 feet from it. I can feel my body cheering for joy as the unbelievable happens. The man in turns his head around. I am about to witness what I fear most. I see the white of his eyes as he loses his footing. Less than 5 feet in front of me a man is plummeting to the ground. There is nothing I can do but hurdle over him. My front leg lifts off the ground clearing him with no issue. As I bring my second foot forward I feel a pull. I see his hand grasped around my ankle in a desperate maneuver to pull himself up. This is what Darwin meant by survival of the fittest.

They say before you die your life will flash before you. I am not sure how true that is but I can tell you that the only thing I thought of was my night before. How I drank sangria out of a jug from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. I thought of how different this could have been if I had gone to sleep rather than pull an all-nighter. Maybe I shouldn’t have had an energy drink as a substitute. Maybe, just maybe, I should have stayed home.

My second leg eventually reaches the ground. My body is thrown off balance. I stumbled forward at a sprinter's speed. I can hear 2,400-pound hooves behind me. This is it. This is the end of me.

I regain my balance. I continue forward. I pass through the stadium doors and enter a sand filled area. The seats are overflowing with people to the point where they are spilling over the walls. I pull right to run along the perimeter. All I can hear is the roar of the crowd. The cheers of the crowd. My vision slowly comes back. I can feel the adrenaline forcing my heart to beat through my chest. The sky becomes a color of blue I have never seen before. Everything I look at becomes alive. I am alive. I survived.

Cover Image Credit: The Kona Gallery

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.

Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Hulu is slept on


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