Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Elevator surfing

Through the years, I've heard about students who died "elevator surfing" in a certain campus dorm. It's always a boy who gets tanked to the gills on some verboten substance and decides it's a freakin' great idea, dude, to climb on top of the elevator car and ride it up and down. Till...

Squish. 911. EMTs. "Clear!" DOA.

And for the rest of the week, or until they take down the crime scene tape, dorm residents are forced to take the stairs.

Lethal elevator accidents are among the memories of his years on this campus sent by a former student from my earlier teaching gig here in the early 1990s. Here's what else he recalls:

After one of the elevator surfing fatalities, the school tried unsuccessfully to reach the victim's parents. They tried for two weeks. (This was in the days before email and cell phones.) Parents were traveling in Europe. We were convinced the dead student's restless ghost haunted the elevator shaft thereafter, his plaintive screams for help echoing through the building.

Someone finding a dead dog in the fountain on the quad.

Overhearing this: "I have a lot of football players in my algebra class. They're never in class but always get A's!"

The never-identified flasher who exposed himself to girls from the window of the Women's Center.

Three students being arrested by campus security while breaking into a car. When the officer asked what they were doing, one replied, "Stealing."

A student getting permission to direct a university-produced short film by agreeing to have his genitalia photographed by a department head for a pictorial collection of penises.

A sort of bright young man with a thick shock of hair applying to the university (and no others) from his hometown in the boonies of East Texas. Instead of writing the usual "how great I am" essay on the application, he wrote about why no one had ever been able to tell him what Grimace from the McDonald's characters was. The admission brass -- either in their wisdom or because they were thrilled to see someone take a fresh approach -- accepted him and awarded him a transfer scholarship. That student's hair is now gone and he lives a relatively quiet life in the suburbs.

He's too modest. What he doesn't tell you is that he's a successful producer for a booming cable channel. He's also done voiceovers and made a documentary film. And he's one of the most brilliant students I ever taught. Thanks, kiddo, for the great memories!

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