I’ve been working remotely since March 13, 2020. I’ve been to my office a couple of times since then to pick some things up, but I haven’t worked in Olds Hall for a very long time. Since we’re transitioning back to campus, I thought I should probably go on a trial run. So last Friday afternoon I decided to give it a whirl. Had anyone been filming a day in my life, it would have probably been filed under the comedy section.
Rather than carry equipment back and forth to the office, I bought myself a second keyboard and mouse. I gathered up my purchases and headed to campus. While it was great seeing students back, I quickly had to revise my driving habits to be extra careful of errant scooters and pedestrians absorbed in their phones. Then, I had to play parking hide-and-seek and circled a couple of lots before finding a space.
I donned my mask, opened the door, skipped down the steps and promptly tripped over my own feet. I got in the elevator and sat there for a bit wondering why I wasn’t moving. Until I realized I hadn’t pushed the button. When I finally got to my office, I started to set up all my new stuff and realized somehow, I managed to leave my laptop, the main piece of equipment at my house.
I retraced my steps home, got my computer and headed back. This time, I found a parking spot more easily and managed to make it back upstairs without an issue. As I sat down at my desk for the first time in 18 months, I wondered what was dripping down my wall. Turns out the battery in my wall clock had long given up and battery acid was now part of the décor. After carefully cleaning that up, I decided to open a window to get some air circulating and a flurry of wasps flew at me.
If that wasn’t bad enough, as I swatted at them, I managed to somehow push the very large screen halfway out the window and it precariously balanced ready to fall four stories below. I quickly grabbed it so it wouldn’t fall on someone. The angle was odd, so I fought with it a good while, still swatting at wasps, and muttering to myself like a fool. So how was your first day back?
Even with all the mishaps of the day, it still felt oddly comforting being back at my desk. I was really happy to see a few colleagues and quickly became re-accustomed to the familiar smells and sounds of Olds Hall. Watching the activity happening outside the windows reminded me of what a great campus we have and why I do what I do.
It’s an exciting time, to be sure. It’s wonderful to be looking toward a year that’s more like those we’re used to, welcoming students, celebrating achievements and planning for the future. This week, the president released a university-wide strategic plan with new goals for the decade.
We also unveiled a really cool new academic building, the STEM Teaching and Learning Facility that incorporates the old power plant next to Spartan Stadium. I toured it recently and it’s a spectacular building. If you get to campus, you should stop in and check it out.
We also announced a new unified brand of a powerful health care partnership with Henry Ford Health, had our first Board of Trustees meeting in person and won our second football game. Not a bad week, eh?
And, most importantly, the next generation of Spartans are back in their classrooms, living on campus and chasing their dreams. Students like Brenda Pilar, a senior in the College of Social Science and member of the Homecoming Court. Despite the uncertainty of growing up “in the shadows” due to immigration status, being a Spartan was always part of her dream. Read her Student view: Stepping out from the shadows to learn more about her incredible journey.
The great thing about journeys is that no matter how many things remain the same, there is always an opportunity to experience something different and learn something new. As we carefully move back into a world that is a little more open, I’m looking forward to going about my “normal” business but also expanding my mind.
It reminds me of a favorite quote from Anthony Bourdain who said, “Go somewhere you’ve never been. Listen to someone you think may have nothing in common with you. Order the steak rare. Eat an oyster. Have a negroni. Have two. Be open to a world where you may not understand or agree with the person next to you but have a drink with them anyways. Eat slowly. Tip your server. Check in on your friends. Check in on yourself. Enjoy the ride."
Whatever plans you have before you, take it all in and enjoy the ride. Spartans Will.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner