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Singletake: Blindsided


WORLD Radio - Singletake: Blindsided

A high school senior’s first date with her first-ever boyfriend goes horribly, hilariously wrong

MUSIC: For The Glory

LES SILLARS, HOST: From WORLD Radio, this is Doubletake. I’m Les Sillars. Season 2 is almost here. The first full episode comes out one week from today. Here’s a preview of just some of the stories we have lined up.

ZUCKERBERG: First, the feeling of presence. This is the defining quality of the metaverse.

MARZIYEH: I told him if you, even if you cut each part of my body, you're not able to separate Jesus from me …

TED TALK: Imagine if you could plug your brain into a machine that would bring you ultimate pleasure for the rest of your life …

BBC REPORTER: These are the videos Iran doesn’t want you to see …

CONNOR: There was like a month, straight, when I got shot in my dreams like every single night. And every single night, I was aware that I was dreaming, and it was terrifying.

If you’re new to the show, here’s a brief intro. Doubletake is journalism plus storytelling, informed by a biblical worldview. Stories about real people encountering big ideas.

So this season we have stories about an Albanian woman caught in a blood feud. A Christian who helps people die well. A young man just trying to get a good night’s sleep. A church trying to bring the Gospel into virtual reality.

And more.

WITTMER: In the past, in the Middle Ages, death was preparation to meet God. Now, death is just a matter of existential angst.

FREEMAN: It’s all about no boundaries whatsoever. People are left up to whatever their mind can imagine

VAN OOSTEN: Then it was his job to keep us for two weeks, take all of our money, and then he would have to kill us.

Doubletake, Season 2, from WORLD Radio is available now, wherever you get your podcasts. If you’ve been following us this spring, you’ve heard our first two Singletakes. We hope you’ve enjoyed them.

Some of the topics in our upcoming Season 2 are pretty heavy. So for our last Singletake this year, we have something a little more lighthearted. Here it is.

MUSIC: Making Mischief

I think a lot of people have been blindsided at least once. Taken completely off-guard. Looking back, we can see, yeah, that was predictable. But at the time, we’re thinking, “I did not see that coming.”

RACHEL COCHRANE: So I was 17, you know, and I thought I was all that and a bag of doughnuts. And I was ready to go out in the world.

LES: This is Rachel Cochrane, one of our correspondents for Season 1 of Doubletake.

Rachel grew up in Southern California in a very loving and conservative homeschooling family. Her mom used to cover her eyes when they went into Blockbuster. But she would sneak peeks at the reflections of the video cases in the windows.

In September of 2017 Rachel was a high school senior. She had just started a long-distance relationship with a young man she met through debate.

RACHEL: And I had my first boyfriend. His name? Well, never mind. He had a name, and it was a good one too. [laughing]

LES: We decided, for this story, not to name Rachel’s boyfriend. Why, you ask? Well, he didn’t do anything wrong. Exactly. And when I was 18, nobody mistook me for someone with great judgment. Yeah. I hope that explains it.

Anyway, in the fall of 2017 this young man had gone off for his first year at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

RACHEL: And so we had this very, very serious relationship of all of two months at that point, somewhere around there.

MUSIC: Crime Blueprint

RACHEL: And I was very like, wow, this is it. You know, this is life. This is experiencing the romance and the intrigue. And I remember having a conversation with my mom. … And she was driving me to my babysitting house because I didn't have my license yet. And she was like, ‘Now, Rachel, I just wanted to talk to you about your boyfriend. I think when you see him next, you know, young men and women, he may want to, you know, take it to the next step.’ I was like, ‘What are you saying?’ And she was like, ‘He might want to kiss you.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, no. It's not gonna happen. Like, definitely not.’

LES: And so … you're 17 years old, she's driving you somewhere to go babysit?


LES: And she's giving you ‘The Talk.’

RACHEL: The Talk. The closest, actually, we ever got to The Talk. A lot of things were implied. Yeah. And I think she was trying to prepare me. And I didn't want to hear it at all, whatsoever.

And then, I was on the phone that later that night, or around that time, maybe a few days later, and that's when my boyfriend said, we're having an Air Force Ball. And it's this big event. It's going to be big and fancy. … And, and so then he was like, you could come and visit and we could go to the ball. And I was like, whoa, this sounds great.

LES: And, to this point, how much time have you actually spent in each other's physical company?

RACHEL: Oh, about a week. Because we had a week before we had decided we were madly in love. Then he left.

And I was having these visions of grandeur. And I said, ‘Oh, I'd love to come.’ And my mom was not about to let me just waltz off to Colorado Springs, and go to a ball with this boy. … Like, she didn't have any problems with him. But she didn't know him. So she's like, ‘I'll come with you.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, I'll allow it.’

And so … it was like the last weekend of September. … And I was so excited about it. I was like, this is going to be the peak of my existence. You know, it's gonna be this epic, romantic, like Romeo, Juliet sort of vision of they see each other across the dance floor, and they, you know, come across, and they meet each other, and they gaze into each other's eyes. And it's like, oh, wow, amazing.

And we flew into Denver, I think. And then we drove, and we met up with him at the Air Force Academy. And the first matter of business was to get dinner. And so we went to Panda Express. …

Well, we thought we would be really sneaky. And we were sitting in the backseat of the car and my mom's driving, right. Very romantic. And, and we were holding hands and we thought she didn't notice. … We're very serious. We've been together for two months and I think both of us had this idea of like, the, the goal is to date someone and just marry them as soon as possible, with little consideration of if you even want to marry them, or even if you want to date them. I don't think either of us knew what we should be looking for. And so we're just very focused on getting as serious as possible as fast as possible.

LES: Where do you think that came from?

RACHEL: Um, I think a lot of it is because we misunderstood our very traditional upbringing. Because I always heard, like, date seriously. And when you date someone, don't just date them because, it's fun to date … don't just get really wrapped up in romance because it's fun, but date intentionally. And I thought that meant that, you know, you date someone, you get a ring.

MUSIC: Not Wasting Time

RACHEL: Yeah, so and then we get to Panda, you know, and we're all like, we're holding hands underneath the table. … And, and my mom's kind of like, I could tell she was trying not to laugh. … And then we got fortune cookies. … It was really weird. It said, a friend, a distant friendship will soon become more promising. And I was like, oh, okay!

He had a friend and she had a concussion. And no one was bringing her food. And she was kind of all alone and isolated. So we were gonna get her dinner.

LES: So she was also an Air Force cadet?

RACHEL: So she lived in Cobra, which was two squads above his, and his was Dirty Dozen. And they're in floors, the squads are, and so we got her to go, food to go. And then we drove back to the Air Force Academy. And then my mom just dropped us off and was like, ‘I'm just gonna sit here in the car … like five minutes. You just go in, drop off the food, come back out.’ So we're like, great. We walk in, we climb up the stairs. … We meet her in the hallway. And then we're, I remember like him literally handing it to her. And then all of a sudden, this person starts running around the hallway yelling, ‘Lockdown! Lockdown! There's an active shooter on base!’ And we're like, ‘Whoa, uh-oh.’

MUSIC: Dark Exports

RACHEL: But it's the military. So we thought it was just a drill. Because they have crazy drills like this all the time. … So he then dropped down to his room with me to get his stuff … they have a chest and then they have a bunk bed and then they have a desk and that's it. There's nothing else.

He had two roommates, Nick and Solo. And obviously, Solo is not his real name. And then he had Frank, who was a friend, and Frank kind of just hung around all the time. … So we walk in. And then … my boyfriend grabs his stuff. … And then we're right about to leave and all of a sudden their phones blow up with these notifications, that all say there's an active shooter on base. This is not a drill, everyone needs to go in lockdown. …

KOAA News: We continue to track a News5 alert this evening. Reports of an active shooter situation on the Air Force Academy grounds right now, and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office just tweeted within the last few minutes that both their personnel and military personnel on the base are investigating this situation right now …

RACHEL: … So they close the door. They barricade it with all of their chests. So they stack them on top of each other. They turn off the lights, they close the window and the blinds. They push the bunk beds forward. And then at first they were like, ‘What do we do with her? … You're not supposed to be here. What do we do with you?’

So my boyfriend is like, ‘We’ll put her underneath the desk. So my first position is underneath this desk. Four men. And Rachel. Then they were like, ‘Ah, what we should do is we should all lay on the ground.’ So then I found myself laying flat on the ground next to my boyfriend, and his roommates and their friend in the dark. Having no idea what's going on. …

MUSIC: Grave Concerns

RACHEL: And my mom had no idea what was going on, because I didn't have my phone on me. So. And also, we were all trying to be as quiet as possible, because we thought that there could be anyone walking through the halls, was just trying to take us out. And, my boyfriend was able to text my mom and tell her that I was okay. And then everyone started telling their loved ones that they love them. And like saying their last goodbyes. It was really weird.

KOAA News: [sirens]… to tell us what’s going on. There’s a live look right now at the south gate and as you can see there …

RACHEL: Um, I think … my boyfriend left a message on his mom's phone. And, but most of them just texted … some of them would just leave like a quiet voice message. And then we all gathered together and prayed. I've, I've never seen cadets more scared in my life, like, everyone was just terrified. And there's this weird feeling of finality to it, like, ‘Whoa, this could be it.’

And then, everyone got bored really quickly, which is weird to say, but there was nothing to do. … So this, honestly, some of them started playing Halo and stuff with earbuds and texting and stuff. As long as it didn't make a sound. And that was after one or two hours.

LES: And you couldn't hear anything else from anywhere else in the building?

MUSIC: Countdown to Terror

RACHEL: Well, okay, so after the first hour or two, we started hearing these really loud bangs. And we're like, ‘Oh, oh.’ And then … the girl that we took in food to earlier … so she's two floors above us, right? In Cobra. And she texted us, and said, ‘They're kicking down my door. They're coming for me.’ And then I didn't get any other messages from her that night. I didn't hear from her at all. … And so … that's the last thing she says, she's like, silent, you know, and we're like, oh, my gosh, I think she just died.

And then the bangs get louder, and they get more frequent. And then the boys are all on their phones, right. And they get notifications saying, like, they've hacked into the main announcement system. Don't trust anyone who doesn't use this code … before they communicate. They're, like, there's these videos circulating around with these men dressed all in black holding these huge guns walking around. And they're by themselves, which is, what is really suspicious is they're not supposed to be by themselves. There's like a code where you're supposed to walk with another person, if you're working security or something. It's the buddy system. And there were also messages I remember, one of them was like, ‘I'm in A Hall. And there's blood everywhere. And there's bodies on the ground.’ And so we, we were like, ‘Okay, this is, this is, this is getting really serious, it’s getting intense.’

KOAA News: … outside these gates, it’s completely closed down, everyone told to shelter in place …

RACHEL: And this was like probably hour number two, maybe two or three hours in. And we thought, we thought that something was going to happen. Very bad, very bad was going to happen.

LES: So what happened next?

RACHEL: So then, especially right after we saw, especially right after we hadn't heard from our friend for awhile, and we're all sitting there, and it just kind of set in, where we were like, This is real. … Except that's when Frank goes, “I gotta pee.”

MUSIC: Side Eye

RACHEL: And we're like, ‘Oh, no, Frank, why?’ Because the bathroom’s down the hallway. We're not about to let him go down the hallway. And we're like, ‘No! No! That's not going to happen. Ever.’ He's like, ‘I really gotta go.’ Like, come on, man. And so then … I'm pretty sure it was Solo and he's like, well, I have this Styrofoam cup that had hot chocolate in it. And it doesn't anymore. I drank it. So if you want, you can use it. I was like, … not only do I have to tell my mom that, like, my life was in jeopardy. But I’ve also got to tell my mom that I was in this room and a man, like, peed in a cup. This is more of the world than I want to experience. [laughter]

So then Frank gets the cup and he goes in the corner. And I'm just sitting here like … And then … my boyfriend, at that point, … he had been holding my hand and then he, like, scooted closer to me.

MUSIC: Serpentine

RACHEL: And then, like, Frank had walked all the way to the corner of the room at that point. And then my boyfriend. He kind of, like, starts kissing my hand. And then, like, he kisses my cheek, and I was like, Oh yeah, that's sweet. He's concerned for me. He's trying to comfort me. I was like, I appreciate that. And then Frank in the corner, meanwhile, unzips his pants, and you can hear this loud, like, “zoop.” Really? I'm thinking about, trying to not think about Frank. And then my boyfriend leans in closer. And then Frank tinkles in the corner. And then my boyfriend kisses me and I, like, the first thought I had was, “Shoot.” Well, it wasn't, wasn't shoot, but, shoot. And I, and then Frank, like sighs–ahhhhh–and it’s like, wait a minute! Wait a minute! Like, like, like, my boyfriend just kissed me, like, kissed me, like full on contact, kiss me, on the lips! And then there was an encore! I was like, whoa, whoa, my mom was right. … And then on top of that, I was listening to this man … I was not prepared for this. I was just in shock. I was like, I, what is going on? Like, this is not supposed to happen.

You know, people have the awkward first kiss story. Everybody's got it. Everybody's got it. But it's things like, you know, we leaned in and we didn't know how to kiss or it was, like, wet or something.

LES: Or maybe you got your braces caught.

RACHEL: Yeah … I and I did not expect it to be like a life or death situation with a man peeing in the corner. That's just not something they tell young women to expect. [laughter]

And I almost had this moment of like, stepping like a third person moment of just stepping outside the scene. And looking up at God, of being like, ‘Who's writing this? Like, who's writing this script? Like, I would like to talk to the directors, please. Because it's bad. It's really bad.’ Yeah. So there you go.

And we looked around, and no one noticed. They were completely like–I think the guy next to us was playing Halo. And the guy over there, I think, was trying to sleep. It was like, I was, I was kind of disappointed. Like, I wanted the world to stop in awe. And no one did.

I’ll just summarize the rest of the night. It was about 3 a.m. by this point. Rachel and the four cadets waited in their room a few more hours. Then they got texts from the Academy commander giving the all-clear.

KOAA All Clear: … El Paso County Sheriff’s Office that the lockdown has been lifted, no shooter has been found, the security sweep has been completed, the all-clear has been given …

So they came out of the room. Rachel's boyfriend and another cadet took her back to her mom. Her mom had spent the night in her car, right next to the Air Force Academy football team. They spent the night on the floor of the team bus.

Rachel found out later that, apparently, the whole thing started when a Nerf gun battle at the Academy’s prep school mistakenly prompted a call to security. A couple of guards sent to investigate broke protocol on their way back and walked across campus by themselves instead of as a pair. The security videos picked up armed individuals, and that set off alarms. Police from around the region, including SWAT teams, rushed to the campus. At some point in there some cadets decided to pull a prank.

RACHEL: And they spread a lot of misinformation. Like, you know, don't trust anyone unless they have the code blue or something like that. And at first it was like, there's one shooter, no, there's three shooters. No, there's a whole squad of shooters, you know?

And those bangs they heard? And their panicked friend saying, “They’re banging on my door!”? Those were senior cadets trying to tell the junior cadets that there were no shooters.

RACHEL: … They were trying to tell all of us that it was fine. Which is, yeah, yeah. It's a massive case of miscommunication.

And the next night, Rachel and her boyfriend went to the ball. They had a nice time.

LES: I don't know, it's kind of a dumb question, I guess. But did you learn anything from this?

RACHEL: Oh, so much. Yeah. Well, see … It turns out, my mom knows something. … And so when she's trying to prepare me for something, maybe I should kind of listen more to it and take it more to heart. … I learned kind of how I process crazy situations is I go immediately into this sort of idealistic universe, like if something happens, that shouldn't happen, then I just sort of build what I want to see instead, and decide to live as if that's the truth. …

MUSIC: Bittersweet Desire

I was like, Yeah, I, my life is just starting, like, I'm ready to get out there and go and like, get started. And let's go. And then to have the prospect of all that just ending … I thought about what my funeral would look like, where my parents would have to get up and talk about how I only lived to the age of 17. And then I died, because I visited my boyfriend at the Air Force Academy. And then there was a shooter. And … I just hated that, I hated the idea of my life being so small, and so incomplete. And I just couldn't fathom that, because I had to be bigger than that.

LES: Rachel says that that first kiss should not have surprised her so much.

RACHEL: And that was the crazy thing is, how could I not see that coming? Because it was … this intense moment of, we don't know if we will live until tomorrow. And so we're going to be here together in love. … And because there was distance, and we knew we only got to see each other for two days, the stakes are really high. And we knew that we're going to make the most out of it. So, like looking back, I don't know how I could have refused to think about it and refuse to accept it as a possibility. I think I just didn't want to..

LES: Do you think it was going through his mind at the time? What if I die without ever having kissed Rachel?

RACHEL: He could have been thinking like, I can't die before I've kissed anyone.

LES: … So how did it ever end with you and this young man?

RACHEL: Oh, well, we did not stay together forever. We, we did not get married. We were together for two years, though. It was still a fairly serious relationship. And we had a lot of other very fun adventures. … But, um, yeah, we just kind of grew apart after two years. And he was off at the Air Force. And I was, you know, off at school then. And we just didn't match anymore.

LES: So was it only in hindsight that it began to seem kind of strange?

RACHEL: Oh, it wasn't until I think we broke up that I reconsidered how weird it was. … I saw it as very romantic and epic and wonderful. And then only after I started distancing myself from the relationship years later, did I start reconsidering, like, how appropriate it was, and if I would have done it differently? Yeah. I, yeah, I think it's a great story. And I'm kind of really happy it happened to me, but I would not recommend it for every, you know, first relationship to start off that way.

LES: Sound advice, Rachel.

RACHEL: Haha, yes, very wise.

LES: Sound advice.

RACHEL: Thank you. Yeah. Thank you.

MUSIC: Kiss and Say Goodbye

LES: I’m Les Sillars and I reported and produced this Singletake. Produced with the help of the creative team at WORLD Radio. Thanks for joining us. Again, Season 2 of Doubletake starts up again in one week. Here’s a quick preview of the first episode.

MUSIC: Chained to the Blues

Juliana: I just thought, I want to contact prisoners because I feel like they’re the loneliest people I can think of and they have time on their hands …

Larry: … dreaming because I kind of felt a presence in the room, and I looked up …

Connie: … and then he put duct tape over our eyes and mouths …

Officer: Whitside, he’s taking off …

Elouisa May: This man, who had seemed to scary to me a few minutes before, was now cryin’ in my kitchen, dearies …

Terry: I think he has tricked people for a long time, and I don’t think he’s done.

Please do follow, rate, and review us on your favorite podcast app. The more people who do that, the easier it is for others to find us. Thanks! And we’ll see you next time.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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