Being an old fart in college and things I can no longer silently ignore

The other day in class, I was talking with my peer editing group.  We had covered our subject matter and had started chatting about our lives.  I looked at the girl next to me and asked, “Any plans for this weekend?”

“Yeah,” she replied.  “I’m celebrating my birthday.”

“Happy Birthday!” I responded, “How old are you?”

“I’ll be 18!”

I stopped, mouth agape, before setting my head on the table while mumbling, “holy shit, I feel old.”

This is what returning to college at 26 is like – with a lot of moments where I just want to set my head on the desk and cuss.

But it’s also been refreshingly not at all like this at the very same time.

Also know that I understand that 26 is not impressively old to be returning to college, but I hope you understand that if you haven’t done this, it does feel impressive, from time to time.

And though I do feel a bit out of date, out of place, out of the loop in my classes now and again, there are also a majority of moments when I feel like I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.

I love what I’m learning, I love my professors, to whom I make sure to write mushy e-mails about how great I think they are and “thank you so much for being a teacher” (no, I’m not majoring in Kissing Ass, I’m just naturally a professional at this.  Ask my boss).  I love my campuses, a beautiful blend of city and country (this is also something I would NOT have said during my previous college years).  All of these things have molded me into this brand new optimist of higher education.  It’s true, miracles do happen.


view from GVSU’s downtown campus


view from the second floor of GVSU’s new library in Allendale.

Despite this incredible new development of me absolutely loving school, there are still some things that boggle my mind.  Some things that I just can’t wrap my head around when it comes to college and it’s students.

The first being – Why the hell are people perfectly okay with wearing pajamas to class?  I counted the other day and five, yes FIVE of my peers were wearing sweatpants, sweatshirts, and looked completely disheveled; like they woke up, took a piss, put on shoes and walked to class.  I will never understand it.  You are in public.  I repeat, in PUBLIC.  Show a little respect and at least throw on jeans.  I mean, just pretend that you give a shit about your education.  Your professor put pants on, the least you can do is reciprocate the gesture.  Remember that phrase “dress for success”?  No, clearly you do not.

Secondly, skateboarders and bikers on campus.  GVSU is a fairly large campus, and getting around can take some time.  This I understand, so I get that wheels make things quicker, more convenient.  What I don’t understand is your dire need to terrify pedestrians as you frantically pedal amongst the crowds.  Am I obligated to jump off the path out of your way?  Or are you going to cut into the grass and go around me?  Why aren’t you using your hand signals or at least make eye contact with me?  We end up doing the most awkward dance between feet and pedals, you topple over onto the concrete and I trip over my own hurried boots and spill coffee all over my shirt.  I wish we could all just agree to walk. (Note:  This has never actually happened, but this image flashes in my mind every time a biker comes at me)

Lastly is the inability to use words and direct them at one another on public transportation.  Yes, we’re talking conversation here, people.  The bus is an incredible tool for commuters to avoid the massive on-campus parking fee, and plenty of us take advantage of it.  Plenty as in, our bodies are touching as we cram in every last passenger we can fit.  As in, if a stranger got this close to me in any other situation, I would assume they were trying to rape me.  You get the picture.  So can’t we look each other in the eye and acknowledge on another?  I mean, simple things like “Good morning,” “Hello there,” “How are you?”

The other day I was one of the last people to get on the bus.  We could fit a few more.  Three more people slowly tried to squeeze in.  We could make it work, but there was such an uncomfortable squashing of bodies that no one would acknowledge.  I grated my teeth, I couldn’t handle the awkwardness.  The tall gentleman next to me inched closer, trying not to touch anyone.  I snapped.  “Come here big guy,” I said as I grabbed him around the waist and pulled him toward me.  He said NOTHING in return.  Still, two more people could board.  “God bless the bus, where strangers are forced to cuddle,” I attempt at humor.  Two chuckles, two nods of agreement.

I guess if I can’t text you, we just shouldn’t communicate, right?  Sorry, next time I’ll make sure to put my headphones in and keep my eyes on my feet, completely ignoring that two pairs of pants are all that separate our private parts which are being forced to grind in an awkward non-dance that would look totally acceptable if only terrible rap music was blasting over the speakers.


In any case, I’ll deal with the unexplainable and continue to throw myself lovingly to my studies.

To good grades, may they be mostly A’s


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