Monday, January 09, 2006

Dorm Room Reconnaissance

I met Susie B at college orientation. It was random chance that we were roommates for the week. Next door was another Susie and her roommate Lorraine. The four of us were fast friends on learning each others’ names. By day two we decided why take chances on the next lottery? Why not go with what we had?

I’m not sure who’s idea it was, or where everyone else was either. But when others were doing what ever they were doing, we went on dorm room reconnaissance.

We scoped out every freshman dorm from door to door, floor to floor—the new high-rise dorm, the two middle-sized dorms, and the two old ones over there. First we contemplated and discussed the flexibility and d├ęcor of the dorm rooms. The ones with the bolster beds and the immovable furniture were definitely out. We needed options.

We extrapolated the distance from dormitory to classroom via each sidewalk. We calculated the average shower-to-student ratio. We figured out the noise factor based on location and estimated the most likely traffic patterns. You’d think that the four of us were going for degrees in social geography or city planning.

In the end, after all of that fun thinking through every detail, an orientation guide we met let out a tiny secret. Only one of the freshman dorms would be fit with brand new telephones in every room for the first semester. Lucky for us it was the one with the moveable furniture. We spent the next hour checking out that four storey dorm. In the end we had the information we needed—room numbers 209 and 210.

Off we went to the housing office on that hot July afternoon, with our most polite and genuine manners. We met a nice lady there who wasn’t stressed—there were hardly any students around at that time of year. We told her how nice the school was and how we looked forward to being there. We asked her about her job—what she did and whether she liked it.

I took a breath and told her that we were wondering whether we might put in a request. I described our deep reconnaissance in most meticulous detail. My friends chimed in at the appropriate times with the appropriate sounds. We said that we were hoping we might request two dorm rooms in particular so that we might live side-by-side our first year in college. I’m sure our faces were all anticipation and enthusiasm waiting for her answer.

She looked at us. She thought a moment. She looked at us again. We never once took our eyes off her. She said that it had never been done before, but since we cared so much, she couldn’t see why not.

“Mind you now. There’s no guarantee. Someone else might need those rooms.”

“We understand, Ma’am. We really do. Someone might need those rooms for some important reason.”

We waited until we were out the door, across the quad, around a corner, and miles from earshot. Then we started laughing, and talking nonstop about how cool it would be, if it really happened. Would it happen—did you think? Yeah why not? She sure was nice. So were we. It has to happen. That would be so cool if it did. I can't believe we did that. I can't believe no one ever did before.

Sure enough a few months passed. A letter came with room assignments. Those were the rooms we got. Our college days were off to a good start.

We were the only ones who had ever thought to ask.

—me strauss Letting me be


Lance said...

That is cool, if we do not ask for what we want in life then we will never get it. Proactive and poliete as well, you were off to a great start.

ME Strauss said...

Thank you Lance,
and welcome to the blog.
I'm delighted that you stopped to comment. Feel free to stay and look around.

Betty said...

Let that be a lesson to us all. I love stories like this. If only you had ended up changing your major to city planning. I that know people do major in that, but nobody seems to be doing a very good job of planning our cities!

ME Strauss said...

Hi Betty,
You're always so positive about what I write. I really appreciate that. It makes my day to read your comments. Thank you for whirling by here. You're a special one.