I know what most of you are thinking right now – I’m too new, I’m not good enough to co-host RTT. You’re the rich college kids who race every year in the Little 500 and you think we Cutters aren’t good enough (for those of you who don’t get the joke, go watch Breaking Away – you won’t be sorry). Well all I can tell you is that if you don’t like my story here, just ask Emily & Kelly for a “refund”. I hope you have a good time feeling superior while you are laughing at my idiocy as an 18 year old. All my stories are true – this is the story of my very first day at college in 1976 at Miami University of Ohio.
Now that I’m in my 50’s, I have the wonderful benefit of being able to look back and to celebrate many accomplishments – in my career, home life and education. This is how it’s supposed to work out in America – you work your ass off and hopefully reap some benefits. Among the educational accomplishments are a few degrees and a couple of certifications. Yes, I gratefully can look back on these educational accomplishments…..but you sure wouldn’t have predicted that I could even successfully find the college lunchroom had you been with me on my very first day of college at Miami University of Ohio.
The year was 1976. It was the year that the Apple 1, a single-board computer for hobbyists was invented. Computers in that day were more ‘mechanical’ and clunky than anything. Not too many years before this, I had been using a slide rule in my junior high math classes. I am providing these tidbits of historical information about computers in the hope that you, the reader, will sympathize with me and find fault in Miami’s processes and clunky 1976 computer used in the making of their class schedules (vs the reality that likely I am just a dork).
Signing up for classes today, (HA!), piece of cake! You turn on your laptop or tablet, cozy into your favorite armchair or order your favorite coffee drink at Starbuck’s and then log into the school’s website via the internet. Search the catalog, find the desired class times, desired days, desired professors and click, click – all done! Today we can even take college classes in our homes, via the internet, totally remote.
In my day, we had to walk 15 miles…oops, where was I?
It was not so easy in 1976, as an entire day was required to pull off a successful scheduling coup, often times two or more. My first experience in class scheduling at Miami in ’76 took about 12 hours. Everyone received a class catalog that listed all the available classes for the next semester. We students gathered in the large gymnasium where we each attempted to lay out for ourselves a semester schedule. That was the first battle.
Next up was to find ‘your table’. There were about a dozen tables set up around the gym’s perimeter. Each table had a sign on it noting an alphabetical range. You found your table according to your last name. Once there, you submitted your class listing as a ‘request’. Each person did this and I seem to recall the table monitors performed some punching on cards that would get fed into the big computer. There was about a two hour turnaround time on finding out which classes you were successful in getting; no one ever got all their classes on the first attempt (or the second attempt for that matter). And that is why it took all day – it was stressful as Hell!
We eventually got presented with a schedule. Each schedule listed the classes, the professors, start and ending times of the classes, days of the week for each class and a 3-letter abbreviation for which building the class was to held in. Ah, the 3-letter building code….I will get to the building code in a couple of minutes.
In addition to the schedule, each student also had a campus map. I was a Mathematics major so my very first class on my very first day was a Calculus class at 8am. Class ended at 8:50 and my next class was to be a class in Eugenics at 9 am. According to the schedule the class was in the building identified by the code LWS. OK, let’s check the map. I see 2 possible fits for LWS – Lewis Place and Laws Hall. Using my brilliant powers of deduction, (I was a Math major, after all), I surmised my next class must be in Lewis Place. If it were in Laws Hall, they would use the abbreviation of LAW, naturally.
Keep in mind, I’m 18 years old, fresh out of high school and attending my very first day of college. Hmm, what other excuses can I use here to help gain sympathy from the reader?
So I headed on over to Lewis Place for my next class. Had it not been my first day, I might have recognized that Lewis Place appeared to be across the street from the main campus buildings. This might have been a clue to me that all is not right. So I walked down the sidewalk and see that my next class is in a building that looks like a house. Ok, what do I know? Wow, college is really unusual! I walked through the gate and down the building’s sidewalk leading up to the front door. The door is locked…strange – I’ll ring the bell and knock. After all, I can’t miss a class!
Why do embarrassing moments remain so vivid in our memories? Is it just so we can have humorous stories to share 40 years later? The door was opened by a nice, older lady dressed in a maid’s uniform. My eyes however were more focused on the inside. To the immediate right was a staircase leading to the second floor. What immediately went through my mind was a visual of what the classrooms must look like upstairs. I imagined myself walking up those stairs and walking into one of those classrooms (anxiously wanting to meet Mr. Kingsfield in person).
The maid asked if she could help me. In my most nonchalant and cool-acting demeanor I could muster, I very casually took one step forward and said, “no, that’s ok, I have a class right now”. I would have taken 2 steps forward, however you see, the nice maid had taken her own hand and with slight force, stopped my progression. In fact, she pushed me backwards far enough until I was standing there on the stoop, where she said, (and I will never forget this), – “young man….THIS is the President’s home!”
And so it was….I shrank away, glancing to my left and right, hoping like Hell that no one I knew had seen me…feeling that everyone around could read my mind and see what an idiot I was.
And that, my friends, was my first day of college.
The following link is a portion of a very old home video of a family party thrown at our first home, for my graduation – naturally the turkey mentions how I got to meet the President. I am fond of this clip also because it shows my Dad’s humor coming through as he’s videotaping – evidently Mike had said that Mary Ann, (Dad’s wife), was dumb. Listen to the apology dialogue. As a bonus that is me at the very end doing a very bad Bill Murray’ Nick Winters impression singing Happy Birthday to my nephew.
- Breaking Rules – Gee Rob, You Speak Spanish, Right? (growinguponprytania.wordpress.com)
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