A Time I Spoke Stupidly

I can not believe I did not think of this a cou­ple of days ago.

My senior year at Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty (1977), I man­aged a job as a part time super­vi­sor in the MRC/​LLC dorm cafe­te­ria. There were a few less than kind things that could be said of me back then (and to this day?), but the per­ti­nent info for this sto­ry is that I was a bit of a fas­cist in so far as that means I did not yet under­stand that rules were meant to be broken.

I was a hard ass, always try­ing to enforce every rule at all times. It is not beyond the pale that stu­dents were mak­ing fun of me behind my back (I don’t think they were, but it’s possible).

Of course, the stu­dents, being col­lege stu­dents, pret­ty much nev­er heard of a rule that they did­n’t think exist­ed so to be broken.

In spite of that set up, my mem­o­ry of that job is not dom­i­nat­ed by con­flict between me and every­one else. In fact, I only remem­ber a cou­ple of times that things got out of hand. Once was when some stu­dents were attempt­ing to smug­gle food out of the cafe­te­ria to eat on the ride home. In my mem­o­ry, one stu­dent attempt­ed to toss a bag of food over my head to anoth­er stu­dent wait­ing out­side the din­ing hall. I inter­cept­ed the bag, but the activ­i­ty led to the door (a beau­ti­ful old wood­en door) sus­tain­ing some damage.

I do not remem­ber what led to the sec­ond inci­dent. I remem­ber a cou­ple of stu­dents on the oth­er side of the counter and I was becom­ing exas­per­at­ed with what­ev­er the sit­u­a­tion was. After some “dis­cus­sion”, I final­ly said “You peo­ple!”, mean­ing “stu­dents.” The prob­lem was the stu­dents I was talk­ing too were African-American.

They under­stand­ably react­ed a bit neg­a­tive­ly to my state­ment and asked what I meant by it. I respond­ed “Stu­dents.” One of them start­ed accus­ing me of bring­ing race into the dis­cus­sion and I prompt­ly replied that I was not the first one to bring up race. Appar­ent­ly my sin­cer­i­ty shined through because they let it go pret­ty quick­ly (more quick­ly than I deserved…I may have been sin­cere, but it was still stu­pid of me).

I’m just hap­py that for talk­ing stu­pid­ly I did not have to pay the penal­ty of hav­ing to drink a Bud Light. Gaaa!

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