Armed with a summer’s worth of marathon training, enough protein powder to sustain a small village, and the willpower of a proper American imperialist ready to tear said village down, I returned to campus this year ready to scale new territory. But cross-campus construction has put a quick end to my newfound pride. Forget getting from point A to point B — I’m somewhere between points K and Q with no way out. I run through blue-lined barriers like a lab mouse in a maze, facing horrors that even Google Maps can’t rescue me from.
Worst of all, I now actually have to pay attention to where I’m walking instead of my daily passing period regimen of watching hydraulic press TikTok compilations, maintaining my Duolingo streak so that the famed fictional avatar doesn’t slaughter me in my sleep, and texting three separate group chats about how I accidentally made eye contact with my professor during lecture — the horrors! Sure, I have near-death encounters with adrenaline junkies on SPIN scooters every hour, but getting tossed off my feet by a bulldozer is where I draw the line.
Getting across Ridge Walk is particularly peeving. What used to be a springtime frolic through Marshall Field has transformed into a set from the beige planet. Before I wearily traipse the expanse of Tatooine, I always pack a canteen and dehydrated spaghetti for the journey. Preparation is key, and I am going to make it to my MMW discussion — even if it takes me all night to get there.
Even in my nightmares, I can’t escape the blue fences that stretch on endlessly. A symphony of excavators and forklifts echoes in my ears, threatening to deafen me with each passing screech. I shutter my windows and pray for a better world for my children.
Young adults like you on your sanitized college campuses these days are entirely disconnected from reality, and boy does it show. Back in my day, we woke up at 4:05 a.m. and put on snowsuits to walk eight miles uphill to the neighborhood school. If you were over 54 seconds late, you were shot out of a cannon into a nearby field to begin the trek back home before the snow had a chance to melt. Then, you were taken out back and generously given your choice between three other forms of corporal punishment.
A construction barrier’s got you down, you say? Well, armed with nothing but faith in the Lord and a healthy dose of McCarthy-era fear, we set up our hills like Sisyphus. What’s more, we did it with an armload of textbooks, phone books, and a suitcase of encyclopedias for good measure. If we got lost — as you so often do despite having the Google to hold your hand the entire way — we used this tool called a “map.” Sometimes they weren’t up to date though, so we instead burned the maps to light a small fire on the pavement and belted “Heartbreak Hotel” until the fire department came and gave us a ride. Those ones cost a pretty penny.
So, be grateful you attend a university that hands you everything you need on a silver platter.
Try an ice bath, take up mixed martial arts, or learn to operate a hydraulic press of your own. Humility and a robust sense of discipline will take you far.