My boss is in his sixties, nearing seventy. That means there is a good forty years of age and experience between us. It makes all the difference when I can’t answer a question for a customer, but it also means we come from widely different perspectives. So when things are quiet at the store, what do we talk about? What can we talk about?
Well, occasionally cars. I pit my pitiful knowledge of Mustangs and Camaros and various other stylish vehicles to the test, but when that runs dry, we talk about a common experience we do share, despite the forty year age gap. College life. What it was like moving away from home. We both went to colleges that upgraded to university status after we graduated. Often, we talk about what it was like living in dorms.
And thus, we have the latest installment of Thirsty Thursday. To read the previous two parts, you may click here.
I’ve lived in small towns my entire life. I’ve always had a yard and a driveway separating me from my neighbors. I still do. So, living in a dorm was a interesting experience that stands out in my memory. There were so many aspects of it, some that I miss, some that I don’t. Like many other parts of college life, it was something I’ll likely never experience again. I’m not too sad about that though. I’m glad to not share a washer and dryer with sixty other people. You do not know frustration until you have made three trips downstairs with your very full laundry basket and every single washer is still taken. I mean, how is this possible that the entire building picks Thursday night to do their laundry? Aren’t they supposed to be out living the college stereotype so they can show up to class with a hangover on Friday morning?
I cannot recall a single time it was obvious that one of my classmates had a hangover. But then, I didn’t go to a party school.
Most of the time, unless the gods of housing smile upon you, you end up in one of the older dorms on campus as a freshman. This means weird old carpet, bathrooms that have seen better days, and questionable smells. I never minded my old dorm. For my three and a half years, seven semesters, I stayed in two rooms total. I squatted my rooms like a boss, upgrading to suite style bathrooms my Junior year. Before that, it was community bathroom, which is not necessarily as bad as it sounds. As with many things in this life, it just depends on who you live with.
Edna was my dorm, and it was all women. Across campus was our male equivalent, also with community style bathrooms, and unlike us, they had a reputation for being disgusting. Eighteen year old boys. What can I say?
I was fortunate in my dorm experience, I will acknowledge. In Edna, my room was in the stairwell, which cut down on a lot of noise. In Fox, my second dorm, I was at the end of the hall. Again, it cut down on a lot of noise. My boss told me he lived in the middle of the hall, between two fraternities. And yes, his college did that crap on purpose. Oh, you didn’t pledge to anything? Here, go play mediator in your living space. Nice, right?
One of my favorite things about dorm rooms was that they were like a blank slate. With the right attitude, you could make one right homey, and on a budget too! For example, in Fox, I had blinds but no curtains. So, I went to Dollar General, bought some $2 scarves, and hung them up over the window. It looked very nice, actually.
More than anything, unless you live with a roommate you can’t stand (which does happen), your dorm is your personal space. You’re in charge of it, it’s yours until the end of the year. The RAs will preach and preach until they’re blue in the face: LOCK YOUR DOORS! WE’RE NOT RESPONSIBLE IF YOUR DOORS AREN’T LOCKED. Only fair, I’d say. Plus, there was a certain satisfaction in being one of two (or the only one, if you’re lucky) with a key. You can disappear into that room at the end of the day and not be obligated to anyone to make nice. You don’t get that when you live at home.
Living in a dorm comes with its problems, some of which I’ve already mentioned. Fighting for the washing machines. Not liking your roommate. Getting locked out of the bathroom when YOU REALLY HAVE TO PEE. People down the hall making noise at odd hours of the night. Fire alarms going off randomly for no reason.
By the way, if your kitchen has a dorm, treat it with respect. First person to almost set the place on fire and you ALL lose the kitchen. RAs will lock that shit up faster than you can blink.
It was nice, after a long day with classes and volunteer work, to come home to your dorm, trudge up the stairs, unlock your door, slam it locked behind you, and collapse on the bed. No parents. No one asking why don’t you come out here and sit with the family?
That’s about as much sense as one can make when extremely tired. And in your dorm room, you have the solace you need to lick your wounds and prepare for another day. It’s a different experience than living in a house, or even an apartment. Like a lot of things about college, you have to enjoy it for what it is.
Until next time, Thirsty Thursday on the Kelswitch, over and out.