But anyway! I showed up at noon and initially parked on a side street, walking onto campus to do all the check-in type stuff. I went to the check-in tent, where I got some swag and an assignment to a Welcome Week group. Then I went to another tent and got my ID card made. It took all of a half an hour. This was a far different process from what transpired at Cornell ten years ago. There, I went through this labyrinth of places in the Field House (Bartels Hall, if you will) and Lynah Rink, and was separated from my parents for the duration of the procedure. After that, I went to get a parking pass. Upon arriving at Public Safety, I learned that there was a drive-thru station on the other side of campus to issue permits on this day. It was a surprisingly efficient process. That was followed by a long period of time to kill before the President's welcome. I ended up walking to the location very early, and was thus seated in the front row. It was a long, long wait. I had to contain laughter when I saw a young sibling of a student take a couple of steps out, and then stick both his hands down his pants. Toward the end - after the speech's scheduled start, to be precise - the young lady next to me noticed that, like herself, I did not have parents in tow. The rough transcript:
Freshman: So, are you a commuter?
Carbs: Yes, I am.
Freshman: Do a lot of people from your high school go here?
Carbs: Well, I really wouldn't know if they did...
(This was followed by an explanation of my situation - one that included my relatively advanced age.)
The part that cracked me up the most about this is that for at least a moment, she actually thought I was eighteen. My age is, thankfully, consistently underestimated...but never by that much.
After the speeches, the groups broke off and did some ice breakers. I was originally in a group of commuter students, but upon realizing that it would be composed mostly of eighteen-year-old freshmen, I defected to a transfer group. My favorite game was one called "two truths, one lie." My three statements were "I grew up on the North Shore," "I have previously served in the Air Force," and "My last school was in the Ivy League." Without question, it was the most outlandish set of statements uttered by anyone. Then we went to a barbecue. I was happy the food was free, even if it wasn't necessarily the most choice gourmet. Afterward, I went to a briefing for commuter students, and then we walked over to Adams Playhouse where there was some other thing going on, billed as a "celebration of the Class of 2013." I determined it wasn't something I needed to be at, and made a discreet departure. Not that it's too hard, given I don't really know anyone on this campus.
The next day, I went to a safety briefing in that very same Adams Playhouse. It reminded me very much of Navy training, right down to the "death by PowerPoint." But there were differences. More than a few were texting during the lecture, and I could have sworn I heard a female voice (likely on a cell phone) from several rows behind me. I again thought back to the previous six years, in multiple respects. For one, my sensibilities were shocked that people would so blatantly disregard the presenter. If someone tried that shit in any training session on a submarine, they'd have to answer for it quickly. And for two, this thing was about fire, and the fine gentleman at the front kept emphasizing the whole "evacuation" aspect. I could not resist a divergent thought: "what? No, you grab an extinguisher and you fight that shit." Only a slight self-reminder of my training from Memphis's period in the shipyard reassured me that I should indeed get out, if I ever should find myself in a residence hall. And I hope to find myself in several of Hofstra's residence halls, even though I'm a commuter...
I went home after that, but returned to the campus several hours later for the last of the "mandatory" events on the program. It was a program by Equalogy on the subject of acquaintance rape. I was expecting something in the vein of the "rape culture" that some, especially at North Carolina State, have issues with. I envisioned the Adam Lack case that I saw on 20/20 so many years ago. What I actually saw...not even close. After watching that presentation, no right-thinking person could possibly conclude that the depicted events constituted consensual sex.
So that's the story of the first two days. Classes have started, though it's a slow start, given that it's already Wednesday. And what's this...Labor Day off? Coming from Cornell, I certainly didn't expect that...