The independent news organization of Duke University

Red bull and a radar detector

Before my stint as a Chronicle columnist came to an end, I knew I had to step outside of the Duke bubble. You know, so I could share some of my “real-world” wisdom. I’ve written a lot about Duke culture and needed to explore more important lessons--life lessons.

I mean, life is about street cred, plain and simple. Money may be the root of all evil, but street cred is definitely the root of all successes. You won’t get into grad school, find a spouse, get approved for a loan or qualify for healthcare coverage without it.

This semester, I’ve been the object of some serious hating, specifically some very harsh online comments. I won’t lie, at first these insults got to me a little bit. Then I came to the realization that 10 online comments meant that at least 10 people had read my column and that at least 10 people felt strongly enough about what I’d written (both negatively and positively) to take the time to compose such passionate and occasionally coherent remarks. People are absolutely right when they say, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” I’ve even developed a small following. Lesson: having haters equals mad street cred, my friends.

But what is street cred? Although I think I have a ridiculous amount and consider myself an authority on the matter, I can imagine a few of you want a scholarly definition, so I’ve turned to the definitive source, Urban Dictionary, for assistance. The Web site defines it as, “Commanding a level of respect in an urban environment due to experience in or knowledge of issues affecting those environments.” Side note: Farmers can have street cred, and they ain’t urban.

I bet most of you are thinking to yourselves, “Wow I definitely don’t have as much street cred as Anna does.” You’re right, you probably don’t—but I’m here to help, not hurt.  

Let’s first talk academics. So say you have a micro-bio exam in addition to an oral presentation and a final paper. While taking micro-bio in the first place earns you some street/hallways-in-Perkins cred, how can you spin this ridiculous assignment to impress those who don’t see the class itself as all that impressive? To look like a super smooth genius, just do the entire thing the night before you have to turn it in. This is obviously risky, and there’s a catch. You have to get an A. Yes, this is extremely difficult, but that’s why you’re considered so much sweeter if you can actually pull it off. Warning: your street cred will take a serious hit if you bomb.

Okay, so what if you’re after an increase in all-around sweetness? Urban Dictionary goes on to define street cred as “something mistakenly associated with committing crimes.” I totally disagree, based in large part on recent personal experiences. Breaking the law absolutely gets you street cred; however, getting caught does not.  

Two weekends ago, I got caught. If you ask me what happened, I’ll admit that I got a ticket. If you ask my parents what happened, they’ll tell you I am being charged with reckless driving. You see, I didn’t know this at the time, but driving at any speed above 80 miles per hour is considered reckless driving in the Commonwealth of Virginia, an infraction it classifies as a criminal misdemeanor. So now that my disregard for state legislation is on the books, I look a gajillion times less smooth.

Although breaking the law ups your street cred, you have to make sure you don’t get caught. Serious debt and jail time? Not cool. My Christmas/birthday list this year (my birthday happens to be Dec. 25) consists solely of car insurance payments. My record is not yet permanently stained, but it is going to take me at least as much time to regain my lost street cred as it will to get rid of the points on my driver’s license. Where I’m from, that’s three years.

Managing to miraculously dominate on a final or successfully avoid the big house means you’re well on your way to having some serious street-cred. I strongly advise that you hold on to this precious gift. For those of you still lacking street cred, it actually might not be that hard to buy—just invest in some Red Bull and a radar detector.  

Anna Sadler is a Trinity sophomore. Her column runs every other Tuesday.


Share and discuss “Red bull and a radar detector” on social media.