I am a self-centered asshole.
Last Friday, I was on my way home from my internship, trying to return to Route 295 North so I could start my fun-filled, don’t-let-college-pass-you-by weekend. I tried a new route to the highway, and was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Route 38 East. As I inched along, I cursed myself for not using the route that I usually take, and complained to the effect that “someone up there” didn’t want me to get home in a timely manner.
After 10 minutes or so of crawling through Moorestown, I reached the source of the back-up. One car rear-ended another, and it was not a small fender bender. The black sedan that did the rear-ending was crushed, headlights smashed to the windshield, and was completely totaled. The driver of the sedan, a young woman who appeared to be in her mid-20s was sitting on the median, dressed in a red polo shirt and black slacks — work clothes. Her face, hysterical, matched her shirt as she wept, crouched next to a police officer. The car that was hit from the back, a tan sedan, was not nearly as damaged.
I am unsure if I have ever witnessed an accident so soon after it happened, but the face of this woman, who was either headed to work or headed home, totaled her car and may have sustained some sort of injury (no ambulance had yet arrived) is tattooed onto my brain. She may have had weekend plans like me, but likely spent her Friday night in a hospital, at least for precautionary measures, and had no way of driving herself home, or anywhere for that matter.
As I drove past, like hundreds of others, I immediately realized that my frustration over a few minutes in traffic was completely unwarranted. Hence my conclusion: I am a self-centered asshole.
I am not the only one. College, and all that goes along with it, creates many self-centered assholes. We are told that these are the best four years of our lives, and that we have to make the most of it. College is a time to better ourselves, and prepare for our future. So what do we do? We act accordingly. We drive ourselves crazy over mid-terms and finals, spend as much time as possible with friends eating, drinking, partying, jumping in fountains, taking pictures and putting the best ones on Facebook to make our home friends jealous. These pictures scream through red cups and themes, “Hey! Look how much fun I’m having! Don’t you wish you were having fun like me?”
Many of us get completely sucked into this vacuum of self-satisfaction. Within the Metzger Drive loop, we lose sight of the real world, especially during freshman and sophomore year when work, school, friends, food and fun are all perfectly positioned within the brick-faced bubble.
And within this bubble, time flies. Do you ever get a call from a parent or relative asking why you haven’t called and you have no answer for them? Sleep schedules become hopelessly skewed, and normal, functioning “college hours” begin to contrast more and more with hours when the rest of the East Coast is conscious.
I suppose the point in all of this, is that from one middle-class suburban white kid walking around campus to all of the other middle-class suburban white kids walking around campus: don’t be like me. When a pipe breaks under a campus sidewalk, don’t complain, like me, that it interrupts your path to class. Instead, consider the worker who has to jack-hammer the cement until his hands go numb. When you mom or dad calls, don’t groan like me. They just miss you and probably want to hear about your day. And when you are in traffic, like me, and want to hold down the horn, don’t. Just hope that your drive was not inconvenienced by someone flying through a windshield.
You are in college, and you are probably having a great time. And that is great. I am not discouraging anyone from enjoying themselves, but do not get lost in it. Your four — or more — years at the College are a multitude of experiences designed to better you not only for yourself, but for others as well.
Don’t be a self-centered asshole.
Bobby Olivier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.