Boy, does that have a new meaning for me this year! Yes, there were all those years when I had to go back myself and dreaded it with a fervor that was real. I didn’t miss seeing my friends, in my tiny hometown everyone I wanted to see was within bike range and I saw them more in the summer without the math or history. I probably had some teachers I liked—Mr. James in freshman English comes to mind, but school doesn’t bring up positive memories for me. Bullies were the norm then and I never escaped, just keeping my head down and getting the work done.
It took years before I realized my sister, the schoolteacher, dreaded going back just as much or more than the students. That was an eye-opener. Teachers pray for snow days harder than students too. Who knew?
Then I moved from working at a university in the Provost Office to the Business Affairs division. The pace is incredibly different in Business Affairs. For one thing, we don’t deal that much with students face to face. We’re the infrastructure people—the police, the plants, the plumbing, the post office, the parking and summer is when we had to go into high gear to get things done before the students descend on us again.
Now don’t think we had any summers off—that’s the professors and the students, not us drones. We were working harder than ever in a compressed time frame and the way we knew the kids were back was the parking got screwed up and we couldn’t go off campus to eat anymore because we’d never find a place to park when we got back. It takes a good two weeks before a freshman can figure out parking, so we’d huddle in our offices out of the way and bring in a sandwich.
But I retired!!! I don’t have to go back at all this fall. I almost missed it altogether and boy am I missing it—not at all. Now I can read what I want when I want, and if I can’t find the book I’m looking for, I can write it. For those of you facing back to school, if you’re a student—hold on, it won’t last forever and if you’re a parent—congratulations on getting them back out of the house. Enjoy!