Working for a small college is difficult, working for a small religious college provided special challenges.
The college administration, which was mostly comprised of the church ministry, took great pride in the quality of students that they allowed into their select world of future ministers and future ministerial wives. This was not necessarily a bad thing, but for a single non-student bachelor working on the campus it provided some challenges and unique problems.
First off, non-student males, regardless of the situation, were forbidden to interact or talk to female college students, period! I know, it was a dumb rule, but it was college policy.
The following story is one situation where I found myself, through no fault of my own, in a very difficult and awkward place.
It was summer and the campus was beautiful. In fact, for many years it won the Most Beautiful National Campus award.
Being outside you could smell the jasmine and lilac as they began bloom; it filled the air with its wonderful aroma. It was just the perfect environment to cultivate an atmosphere of excellence, which in many cases reflected in the student body and their striving for academic distinction
On this particular day, it was unusually clear, even for Pasadena. There was very little smog and the sun was bright and warm. A perfect day for a romantic encounter…
Being young and single, just barely past my teenage years, the young co-eds were a temptation I dare not contemplate. With all those beautiful young women everywhere, it was like a young kid in a candy store with endless delightful choices before me. Unfortunately, I was not able to have any. It was truly unsettling and a bummer.
You talk about wanting to sit down and cry, this was one of those situations. Since I did not want to find myself fired, I restrained myself from socializing with the young women. I was just beginning to enjoy my job; I did not intend to get myself into a situation where I could be fired! So I had the situation completely under control until that one fateful afternoon….
To understand and appreciate what was about to happen, I need to help you understand the setting, as well as the layout of that particular part of the campus where this strange drama would unfold.
One of the main walkways for students going from one end of the campus, north to south was just east of Terrace Villa and Mayfair, women’s dorms. The walk way was about eight feet wide or wider, plenty of room for several students to walk side by side. Directly west of the walkway was the sloping lawn, which went all the way down toward what would eventually become the Student Center and Auditorium. The lawn area was about four or five feet below the walkway, and rolled down with an elevation drop of 40 or so feet to its lowest point. At the upper edge of the walkway, there was about a 4 foot drop to the lawn area below. Students did need to be somewhat careful not to ramble over the edge. However, I do not ever recall anyone ever misjudging their step and going over the edge.
I was down near the lower end of the sloping lawn area, while my supervisor was working at the upper end of the lawn area. Any students walking by would have had to look down, over the edge of the sidewalk to have seen him. For the most part, he was completely out of sight unless he stood up. Since he was working on the irrigation system close to the wall, with the sidewalk above him, he was completely out of sight to those passing by.
Down at the other end of the lawn I ran into a problem. I was trying to locate what is known as a “hide-a-way valve”. It is a pipe in the ground with a flip up cap. When the cap was up it was possible to screw in another pipe with a faucet on the other end to water that specific area. When finished watering it was once again removed leaving the area free from any obstructions. This allowed a mower to go over the area without breaking the pipe, or seriously damaging the mowers blades. It was a novel idea that worked incredibly well. The only problem was trying to locate the valve. It was hidden away below the level of the grass. Because of this, I was having trouble locating it.
Here is where the situation got just a little complicated, all right, it got extremely complicated as you are about to read. I could not locate the valve; it had seemingly disappeared from off the face of the earth. Therefore, I did the next best thing. As loud as I could yell, I shouted to my supervisor at the upper end of the lawn. Since he was very familiar with the location of the valves, he would be able to point to its exact location. I yelled, “Where is your hide-a-way?” I honestly did not notice the female student’s walking by on the elevated sidewalk, honest. It was at that instant that I yelled that my eyes met theirs. They were three of the most beautiful female students on the face of the earth. My heart melted like wax and I became limp. The three young angels stopped, looked at me and smiled. They gave me a very friendly wave. I had a sheepish look on my face, could not resist and waved back, and then they walked on. I thought I had died and gone to heaven, because I just saw paradise….only the pair of dice I saw was not real, it was about to roll up craps. The heaven I envisioned was about to turn into an all to realistic hell.
Now my supervisor, which I still hate to this day, who was at the other end of the lawn could have stood up and yelled and pointed to the valves location which was about two feet from where I stood. But noooo, he saw what was happening, stayed hidden completely out of sight and put his hand over his mouth to laugh. He may have thought it was funny but there would be a price to pay for my innocent mistake.
You might say so what, what is the big deal? It was not so much being embarrassed, because I was not, it is just that I knew what was about to happen and it would not be pleasant. For in less than an hour later one of the other supervisors walked up and informed me that I was to report to the office of the Building and Grounds Superintendent IMMEDIATELY! No explanation was given, but I knew what was about to take place.
It was my unfortunate luck the young women were not alone on the walkway. Several male students accompanied them. It was obvious from the expression on their faces that they did not appreciate my flirting with their women. One of the men apparently complained to the Dean of Students. He in turn raised all kinds of hell with the head of buildings and grounds. Now it was his turn to chew on me for a while.
When I got to the office, I told the secretary who I was, that I was expected. She said, Oooooh, I heard about you, one moment please. I sat there for probably ten minutes before the office door finally opened and I was motioned to come in. I noticed the carpet was soft and quite spongy, I thought I could bounce pretty good on this stuff as I was being tossed out. Then I noticed of all things a barbecue going on, only thing, it was my goose that was about to be cooked! Well, at least I did not have to worry about being bounced on the carpet….I listened to him rant and rave for what seemed to be forever talking about the virtues of being a responsible single male employee on the AC campus. He also very clearly outlined what would happen if he ever saw me again in his office for this type of violation concerning college policy. My goose would not only be barbecued, it would be flamed to a burning cinder. He asked me if I understood, then gave me about 15 seconds to explain… about four seconds into my explanation he looked at his watch, then hurriedly said he had another appointment and I needed to leave. Did he believe me, not very likely; he never listened to what I had to say. That was OK because I knew where I stood with my God. This other little tin god’s opinion really did not matter.
You see, it was not important at the college if you were guilty or not, it was simply a matter of how well you took the abuse, I mean loving correction. It’s not that I was afraid to speak up, he never stopped talking long enough for me to do so. I was always taught never to interrupt a minister when he is on a roll.
Life on campus was always full of interesting twists and turns, and at times it made us feel like pretzels: we were always being twisted by bad administrative decisions; at times we were a bit salty because of how we were treated; and someone was always chewing on us for not living up to their standard.
If you are reading this and are one of the college women in this story, I am still smiling. If you are one of the guys, go suck an egg!
Next time more comedy campus.