I believe there’s a book out there called “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.” I think there was also a Hallmark Channel movie of the same name. I don’t know — I refuse to be a slave to the paper industry, and I don’t care for movies about particularly brave golden retrievers. However, my understanding is that the story tells of the five types of people you will encounter there. Clever title notwithstanding, it got me thinking: Who are the four people you’d meet at the College of William and Mary if you were an incoming freshman? What professors, athletes, staff or students would greet you at the Bricky Gates?
The first person you meet at the College is the griffin. No, I’m kidding, the griffin sucks. The first person you meet is the Embittered Caf Worker. He may be leaning a few feet back from the serving line, crossing his arms and looking at you, daring you to make him do his job. You may smile at him; it won’t help. You may ask him how his day went; he won’t answer. He’ll just growl a gruff, “Whatchu want?” and sidle up to the mashed potatoes like an old cowboy to the bar. You’ll cheerfully request meat. You won’t receive meat; instead you’ll receive the dry cauliflower at the end because “ain’t nobody else eatin’ it.” If you protest, he’ll scowl at you until you leave. Walking away, disappointed, you’ll see him make no attempt to hide the fact that he and the rest of the workers are now laughing at you.
The second person you’ll meet is the Guy Who Was Cool In High School. Never seen far from his “Clover Hill Lacrosse” pinny or his “Senior Class 2013: We’re Sexy and We Know It!” t-shirt, you want to punch this kid in the face, grab him by the collar and scream, “The real world doesn’t have lunch periods or spirit weeks!” and then go weep quietly under a research paper. He is always quick with a story about his favorite teacher, Mr. Rickman, and how it’s cool that Mr. Rickman wasn’t like other teachers, and other anecdotes you can’t even pretend to care about. Some private school kids will harp about how prestigious their school was; remind them that your education was free and that you’re both here. Some public school kids will brag about how tough their high school was and how many altercations occurred; remind them how to spell altercations.
The third person you’ll meet is Bro McFrat. Mr. McFrat has J.Crew shorts in every color of the pastel rainbow and never met a Sperry he didn’t like. He can tell you why George Bush was more of a bro than Bill Clinton and when the Dow last broke 12,000. He’ll dismiss your iPhone as “a toy for kids and housewives” and mock your gorgeous cargo shorts. Remind him that Zac Brown is just a fat guy with a beard, and he should leave you alone.
The fourth and final person you’ll meet at the College is the Professor Learning English While Teaching Science. Nothing reminds you more of the fact that you’re paying tens of thousands of dollars for your education than a professor who, far from having mastered the English language, appears to be locked in mortal combat with it. I understand the Eastern Bloc only fell 20 years ago and free choice still scares you, but if you can’t properly conjugate or pronounce “respond,” don’t expect me to do it well. Even if I do giggle every time you say hypotenuse.
No, the College is not heaven. It’s more like purgatory, with everyone waiting for Holy Reveley to decide when it’s time for us to move on. However, there are far worse places to spend four years, and far worse people with whom to spend them. For all their idiosyncrasies, the people of the College are some of the most interesting you’re ever likely to meet.
Jason Rogers is a Confusion Corner columnist and he always had to eat cauliflower whenever he ordered meat at the Caf.