A Scary Day in the Life of College Tater

Occasionally, when there is nothing fun to write about in current times, I try to think back to any interesting stories from my life. I generally never find one because I’ve been generally boring my entire life. This morning I did remember a scary day from my college years.

My junior year in college I was a resident janitor at the Baptist Student Union. I traded mediocre to bad janitorial skills for free rent in the basement apartment in the building. My memory of what happened before that day is fuzzy because that day takes over my entire memory of the events, but I’m pretty sure earlier in the week a car had been stolen from our parking lot during our weekly service. I know we were doing penny wars during that time and the jars of money were sitting out that night. It’s possible the people involved in the stolen car saw the money and decided to come back another time. Now, we move to the other time, the event I remember vividly.

My roommate had gone home for the weekend. I was alone in the building and in my apartment in the basement. I heard what sounded like glass breaking and went out in the hall to investigate. I saw a brick in the floor in the classroom across the hall and multiple shadows outside the window and one shadow coming through the shades. I got back to my apartment as fast as I could without alerting them to my presence, called the police and sat by my door with a baseball bat. I’m not sure how long all of this took place. It seemed like it was hours, it was probably less than one hour. I sat by the door and listened to footsteps outside my door and above me on the main floor. I was sure at any minute someone was going to bust through my door. There was no sign of a police response.

I finally went back to the phone and decided to try to remember the number of the people I knew across the street. I’m not sure if I ever remembered their number. I was scared and it was hard to think straight. For some reason, I did remember the number for the fraternity next door I had been to some parties there my first two years in school and knew some people who lived there. I called over, told them what was happening and asked if they could see if the police were around anywhere. They did more than that. When they heard what was happening, they grabbed things that could be used as weapons and headed over to help. The people in the building fled at that point. Eventually, there was a knock at my door. I didn’t answer until the person identified themselves as my friend from across the street. I left the building to find the police were finally there as were my friends and several frat guys from next door. The police had apparently driven through the parking lot, thought things looked OK and left. Who knows what might have happened had I not known the number of the frat house next door. I do know that I don’t recall being that scared again.

If I remember correctly, the people involved were arrested after they crashed the car and fled while leaving papers(report card, maybe?) with their name on it in the car.

Some of the stories from before and after the event might be wrong. I’m old and forgetful.

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Empty Nest Day

Today is the day. For the first time since 1996 we will have no kids living at home. We are loading the car this morning and moving our daughter in to her dorm. I’m not sure I’m ready for that drive back in an empty car. I’m hoping I can hold off on the crying until I am safely in the car so I don’t embarrass the rest of the family.

I’ve written a lot about the coming empty nest, so there’s not a whole lot left to say about the empty nest thing. It is time for m to figure out who I am in this phase of life. It’s time for my wife and I to figure out who we are as a couple in this phase of life. It’s time for me to figure out how to fill all of the empty hours that used to be time with my daughter.

I will miss having her at home to tolerate me being weird. I will miss having her at home to watch the dumb comedies with me. I will miss our Survivor nights on Wednesday nights. I will probably even miss the mess she leaves behind in every room she inhabits.

I’m sure it won’t take long for me to get used to the empty nest, but the next few weeks will not be easy.

College…Or Not

I recently read this article in the Washington Post –

Elitists, crybabies and junky degrees

A Trump supporter explains rising conservative anger at American universities.

I don’t agree with the people quoted that colleges are brainwashing young adults and turning them in to liberal elites, but I do agree with the premise that college is not for everyone. Some people should not go to college and that’s OK. Some people should go to college and that is also OK.

I am the only one of my siblings to graduate from college. It doesn’t make me better than them. It doesn’t make me smarter than them(that happened naturally). I am better looking than them, but college had nothing to do with that. I needed to go to college to get where I needed to be in life.  They didn’t need to go to college to get where they needed to be in life. Both situations are fine. We did what was best for us. That’s what everyone should do.

Both of my kids will attend college. I hope they will both graduate. They have aspirations for careers that require a college education and the aptitude to be successful in college. Some kids have aspire to careers where a degree is not necessary. Some kids are not in a place where they would be successful in college. This is all OK.  I think everyone deserves a chance to go to college. I think we should continue funding for grants to help those in need attend college. I just don’t think everyone should go to college.

We need people to become tradesmen. We still need plumber, carpenters, welders, auto mechanics, etc. These are good jobs. These are good jobs that do not require a college degree. Unfortunately, these are becoming jobs that are considered “lesser” and parents try to push kids away from them and in to college. There is no shame in these jobs. We should stop trying to force kids in to college just because we have all decided that everyone needs a college education.

We should let kids go in the direction that will allow them the most success. Why pressure a kid in to college if that is not where they will be successful? Why not guide kids toward the path in life that is best for them instead of the path that makes the parents feel good about themselves?

 

College Visits

We just recently finished with the college tours for my daughter.  I was thinking about giving an impression of each school, but I decided instead to list the things that schools did that made an impression on me.

Keep it Simple, Stupid – Every college has an information session before the tours. Every college says a lot of the same things during these information sessions. So much o that almost every one of them talked about the charity dance marathon they do like they are the only college that does one.  A lot of these sessions were an hour when they didn’t need to be an hour. I was impressed with my alma mater, The University of Kentucky. They only had a 30 minute information session and gave us better information than most that had hour-long ones. Tell me the basics. Give a slice of life and move on.

Make the Tour Meaningful – Some of the tours were so light on details they were no more useful than me walking around the campus on my own. They need to be more than just walking around campus pointing at buildings. Give us some anecdotes, tell personal stories, do anything that makes it memorable. Indiana and Penn State were very good at this. The Penn State guides were the best ones we had. They answered questions honestly and made the tour more personal.

Don’t Charge for Parking – The only one that failed this one was Delaware. Everyone else gave us free parking. We had to pay there. You are trying to woo us. This is not a good start.

Feed Me Seymour –  Pointing at the dining hall is not as effective as providing a meal in the dining hall. Penn State and Washington University in St Louis provided a free meal in the dining hall. UMBC charged us, but at a discount rate.  If you want us to be impressed with the food options, letting us sample is the bet way to do this.

Swag – Wash U is the only one that gave us meaningful swag. I use the nice Wash U water bottle every day. It doesn’t hurt to have something with the school name on it around the house if you want to stay fresh in our minds. Nice job Wash U.

Follow Up – Kentucky wins here. A handwritten postcard from the tour guides thanking my daughter for visiting. Really nice touch. Delaware fails. They keep inviting us to visit after we have already visited.

Obviously, things like cost, academics and the like will be the most important part of the decision, but if there is a tie things like the above could make a difference in the decision.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I already posted about my high school reunion. The reunion was one of the things I did on vacation, but there was plenty more. We started the vacation by driving to my mother-in-law’s house in Kentucky. We had dinner, went to bed and then got up the next morning to head to Indiana University for a college tour. At the end of the tour I finally found a brain bigger than mine.

Indiana University

We left Bloomington and drove to St Louis. The next morning we went on a tour of Washington University.  It was a very nice campus, but miserably hot that day. They did give the students a free lunch and the entire family a nice water bottle.

 

 

 

We left the university and headed down to Grant’s Farm. I was skeptical and didn’t know if it was worth the trouble of going just to see the Clydesdales, but there was so much more. It was a fun place(with free beer samples) and worth the drive down.

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Grant’s Farm

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Grant’s Farm

 

 

While we were in St Louis we went to the City Museum. It was an interesting place and we had a lot of fun climbing around inside. I did bump my head several times and still have the mark. It’s also very hard on old knees. Everyone in the family chickened out and didn’t go down the 5 story slide.

 

 

 

After City Museum, we went to the Arch. The tram up was a little claustrophobic, but worth it. We were probably in line longer than we were in the arch, but the views were great.

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Gateway Arch

View from the Arch

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The Arch at Nighr

After St Louis we went to Bowling Green, KY for the reunion and to spend time with family. On the way back out of town, we went on a tour of my alma mater, University of Kentucky. We toured the dorm where I lived as a freshman. Well, it had the same name, but it was a completely different dorm than where I lived.

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University of Kentucky

Watching Jeopardy Alone

I knew it was coming soon. My son rented a house with friends this year so he was officially completely moved out last July. He leaves on Sunday for New York for five weeks for his summer internship. Today was my daughter’s last day of her junior year of high school.  She got her driver’s license last week. I knew I was a year away from an empty nest. Today, my daughter starts a part-time job. She just headed out for her training shift. That means I will start to get a taste of the empty nest soon.

The big change for me will be the first couple of hours after I arrive home from work. I typically arrive home by around 5:30. My wife typically gets home around 7:30.  For a while, some of that time was filled with trips to the dance studio. The last couple of years it has meant cooking dinner and watching TV with my daughter. Monday nights we watch John Oliver(recorded from Sunday). Other nights we might watch other random shows that we have recorded over the past weeks. The one standard is that we watch Jeopardy at 7. My wife doesn’t understand why we like the show so much. I’m surprised my daughter likes it.  We watch, comment on the contestants and yell out our answers(not in the form of a question). With her at work several nights a week, I will have to watch Jeopardy alone. I’ve done it before. It’s just not as fun when no one else sees how smart(or dumb) you are.

It sounds small, but it is a harbinger of things to come. Today it is a part-time job. Soon it will be college. Soon the nest will actually be empty and I will have many hours home alone. I guess I will be reading a lot more books soon. Who am I kidding? I will probably spend the alone time watching TV shows my wife won’t watch and posting stupid stuff on Facebook.