Spring break is upon us once more. After consulting with my bank account I’ll be in town working all week, and I’m good with that. But it got me thinking about what makes the best kind of break – the beach? Road trips? Drunken escapades?

Maybe that’s your dream break, and I’m envious of you. While it sounds tempting to me, for the past few years I’ve gone out of my way to live in a way some call quirky, most call stupid – for the sake of collecting good stories to tell.

I mean, which sounds cooler?

A) “Hey guys, yeah, my break was fun, just sat around the beach all day really. OMG check out my tanlines,” or

B) “My break was okay, but I did meet a guy who was thoroughly convinced his TV was trying to kill him for three years running.” (True story.)


For all of you traveling somewhere, whether it be on vacation or through an alternative break, this might come a little easier to you. It’s nearly impossible to travel without at least one good story that can’t be explained in a slew of Facebook pictures. One of mine, somewhat regrettably, comes from a night studying abroad in Paris that started with tequila and ended with a re-enactment of a scene from “Team America: World Police” along the banks of the Seine.

But sometimes, the most memorable break stories don’t come from going somewhere exotic or doing something glamorous. One should always be on the lookout for a great story in the most mundane situations.

Spending a few breaks in Madison, I’ve encountered a few quality characters: a homeless woman who proclaimed to me, “$2.50 – that’s all I need to get intoxicated!” Or once there was a mysterious-looking man on the bus reading a French book on how to perform an exorcism.

But one of my favorites was a break spent at home in Milwaukee. My sister and I ran into former Marquette Basketball head coach Tom Crean at a Milwaukee Barnes & Noble shortly after he’d broken all Marquette fans’ hearts – er, left to coach at Indiana. When he went upstairs, we knew it was time to act on Operation: Guilt Trip and lined the escalator with copies of a book about the Marquette team prominently featuring his picture on the cover. (He pretended not to see it, but we still have photo proof.) That might be one of my proudest accomplishments to date.

So, if you’re stuck in a not-so-scenic location this break, try to look for captivating tales in monotonous situations. Maybe you’ll one-up your friend’s bodacious beach excursion.

Got any outlandish break chronicles worth sharing? Send your stories – or the last remaining items on your bucket list – to Katie at [email protected] or tweet @kforanmchale.