Here's a picture of me working this Wednesday at Culver's Butterburgers and Frozen Custard. My father always made jokes along the line of "If you get a PhD in English, you'll end up working in a fast-food place!"; turns out he was right.
An explanation is in order. Perhaps you remember a few months ago when I reported that a favorite student of mine had been killed in a car accident. I found out ten minutes before class began. I walked into class and broke the news to her classmates. We spent about 45 minutes talking and crying together. I spent the last 30 minutes covering the material that we HAD to cover that day. I felt a bit useless, having wasted most of the class-- I just couldn't imagine that anything I had said had done any good. I got back to my office and had an email from a student in the class (named Missy). She had gone straight to the computer lab, I guess, and sent me a note thanking me for spending time talking about Megan. Missy said that it was nice to realize that she attended a college where the professors really cared. She close by saying that I should let her know if there was any sort of fundraiser for Megan's five-year-old son. An idea was planted.
I am very competitive and good at motivating others. I spearheaded a college fund for Megan's son. (I was fortunate to get a few other folks to do the real work, leaving me to handle cheerleading.) We raised money on campus. We got donations from the community. Pizza Hut donated 20% of their take on their buffet for a day (for anyone who brought in a coupon for the fundraiser); sadly, that only amounted to $148. I guess people can't be bothered to worry about such coupons. Anyway, Culver's generously decided to donate 10% of their take for the whole day last Wednesday-- no coupon necessary! To make it even better, they intentionally chose the last day of the school year for the local schools (one of the busiest days of the year). They asked me to work as a "celebrity employee," which I gladly did. That event raised about $800. I don't have final tally yet, but it looks as if we have raised about $3,500 for the college fund! Not a bad, huh? It certainly won't pay for this kid's college, but it's a good start. More than anything else, perhaps it will instill in him an expectation that college is a possibility for his future.
Anyway, this has taken up much of my time in recent weeks. I am glad that my part in it is finished. I'm tired.