Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How to Human

It will probably surprise few of you that, when I walk around this campus, I find myself quite frequently annoyed. I watch the walking, talking, and general human-ing etiquette of my fellow students, and I grow angry and perplexed. "How do they think it's okay to block the entire sidewalk?" I wonder to myself. "Why does this person refuse to walk at a different pace from me?" I query. People just don't know how to conduct themselves in a way that acknowledges other human beings, and I am sick of it. My fellow classmates and Notre Dame denizens clearly need some lessons in how to share space with other people, and I am here to teach them. In this guide, neatly alphabetized because I am neurotic, I will address some of the many things that people on this campus seem not to know how to do, and I will teach them in the proper ways of the human.

Avoiding snow and ice. I don't know if you've noticed, but in about 49 of the 50 states, it has snowed a lot this winter. While the grounds crew here at ND really has done an admirable job of cleaning and clearing our sidewalks, it's not always possible to keep these pathways completely free of wintry precipitation. Snow, ice, and slush build up around the edges of the sidewalks, and you know something? No one wants to walk on that. If you see from down the sidewalk that you're about to hit a one-lane dry stretch at the same time as another person, do your best to help a brotha/sista out. Slow or quicken your pace to ensure that you hit the slippery spot at different times. If you're not in a hurry, stop for a second and let the other person pass. I did this recently while in an uncharacteristically good mood, and from the look on the other person's face, I wasn't sure if I had let them pass safely on the sidewalk or handed them $20. Make people happy! Embrace that the sidewalk is shared by all.

Sometimes, though, you can't avoid walking through an icy patch at the same time as another person. Somebody's gonna get through on dry sidewalk, and the other person's gonna have to skate. A judgment call has to be made. Which brings me to...

Keeping an eye out for shoes. This sounds creepy - because it is, mostly - but I assure you that this simple act will make your life a thousand times easier. When it's clear that either you or your sidewalk companion is about to go off-roading, take a glance at the other person's shoes and at your own. Are you plodding along in Sorel snowboots while the other person skids by on moccasins? Give them the dry part of the sidewalk. Is the other person wearing knee-high Hunter boots while you totter along on stilettos for the career fair? Claim the dry sidewalk for yourself. It's like an extremely petty, simplified version of giving up your seat on the bus for a pregnant lady. If crossing that ice or snow is easier for you than it is for them, bite the bullet and walk on the ice.

Traveling in packs. I'm gonna start this out with a generalization: PEOPLE WHO WALK IN GROUPS IN THE WINTER ARE THE WORST, AND I HATE ALL OF YOU. I mean, honestly. Look at how hard it can be to get two strangers across a snowy sidewalk at the same time - what are you, big group, supposed to do when faced with someone coming from the opposite direction? You are making everyone's life hard. Stop doing what you are doing.

If you can't or don't want to stop walking in groups, though - ugh, sociable people, am I right? - there's still a pretty simple fix. Fall into single file when other people come along who need to cross your path. I'm not saying you have to stop and arrange yourselves with military precision; just make some room. You wouldn't want to walk through mud/snow/ice/puddles for 10 feet just because a sidewalk-width group of people failed to notice your presence, so don't force other people to do so, either.

BONUS: How to human in the dining hall. For the love of all that is holy, do not, ever, under any circumstances, sit alone in the dining hall in such a way that you are directly facing another person sitting alone in the dining hall. We all know what I'm talking about. You enter the DH, tray in hand, and decide to sit "right left." Upon finding an empty table, you notice that the person at the table you just passed is facing away from the dining room entrance. When you go to sit down, then, OH, MY GOD, do not face toward the entrance. You are forcing that person to stare at you for his or her entire meal, and it is nothing but uncomfortable and terrible and something I literally would not wish on my worst enemy. A side note? I've met people before who do this on purpose. You people are what's wrong with America. You're all of it. You're childhood obesity. You're low STEM test scores. You are the wage gap. By making someone eat their dinner while staring into your face, you are every single ill in our nation, personified. Just know that.

So that really extreme turn of events (for which I do not apologize) basically wraps up what I have to say about how to not be the worst. Take the advice given here, and campus will be a happier, better place. At the very least, you'll have made huge strides toward convincing me not to hate you. You're welcome for the advice, dear readers - I'll see you on the sidewalk.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Tale of Two iPhones

If you've had the pleasure of speaking with or observing me any time lately, you may have noticed that I've been even more of a hot shambly mess than usual for about ten days now. Some of you know the genesis of these shambles - though I assure you you are unprepared for the recent twists in the story - but in the interest of informing and entertaining you all, I present to you the full story of Sarah's Lost, Replaced, And Found Sort Of Cell Phone.

As so many good stories do, this one started out innocently enough. Two Saturdays ago, the Pasquerilla East Musical Company threw itself a little Canada-themed party. Naturally, I dug my "Aloha, Eh?" t-shirt out of storage, folded up my life-sized Justin Bieber cutout into his handy-dandy portable form, and headed over to said soiree. Justin and I had a lovely time, belting along to the Frozen soundtrack and (in Justin's case) posing for photos with adoring fans. The evening wound to a close, and I left the gathering with some friends.

Given that this was January in South Bend - indeed, a mid-polar vortex January, to be specific - I had to traverse some pretty significant snow banks on my trek from the house to the car I was riding home in. Phone in my back pocket, purse over my shoulder, and Biebs under my arm, I made my way through the snow. Knee-deep in someone's front yard, I crawled into the car, rejoicing that I had managed to get Justin through the whole evening without a single bump or bruise.

I rode back to campus with my friends and hopped out of the car at Main Circle. On instinct, I checked my pockets to make sure I had all my things - and discovered that my phone was MIA. We checked the area surrounding the spot where we had stopped. Nothing. I had my chauffeuring friend search her car. Nothing. Defeated but still holding the now infinitely frustrating Justin Bieber, I headed back to my dorm. By a stroke of luck, I happened to roll up at the exact moment that a parade of boys was exiting the dorm in observance of parietals, and one of these gentlemen let me in.

"Why would you need let in?" you ask. Oh! I suppose I should mention: my cell phone case has an ID pocket. In this ID pocket, I keep my student ID and my drivers license. To lose my phone is to lose not one but three of my most important personal items. In other words, any friends discerning which phone case to buy, ID-pocket cases are a great and efficient idea...until they're not.

Upon my reunion with my computer, I sent Facebook messages to the hosts of the party explaining I'd lost some things at their place. They promised to look around. I messaged another friend to let her know not to text me, and she had the brilliant idea to call my phone.

It went straight to voicemail.

Considering my phone had been on about 80% battery when I left the party, this did not bode well for my phone being lost in some cozy indoor locale. Nay, clearly, my phone - and my student ID, and my drivers license - had fallen out of my pocket and into the snow. I downloaded an alarm clock app for my iPad and reluctantly went to sleep, knowing there was nothing more that could be done. I recited my ID number at the entrance to the dining halls for two consecutive meals, confirmed with the party hosts that they had searched high and low to no avail, and sat down to think about my next steps. My parents would have to be told, of course - but not until I'd shoveled through that snow myself to make sure my phone was permanently gone from this world!

About 16 hours before the city of South Bend declared a state of emergency, then, a friend and I set off on a return trek to the party house. We should probably have realized the ill-advisedness of our mission when we reached my car and found it so deeply buried in the snow that only 30 minutes with a full-sized shovel could break it free. Determined that I was to search for that phone, though, we forged on. Sliding only very minimally on the iced-over roads, we made it to the house and pulled into the drive. We had left the shovel with the friend who came from nearby Carroll to dig us out of the parking lot, so we were left with just my scraper and snow brush to dig through what was now 3+ feet of snow. We dug for an hour. Freezing rain began to fall from the night sky. We gave up.

Remember now, though, that I am, at this point, without a driver's license. In the interest of not geting arrested, then, I had forced my friend to drive. This had gone perfectly well for us so far, but as we began our return voyage, we hit a snag. The flat street that had brought us into the neighborhood was one-way. To get back out again, we had only one option: drive, in the freezing rain, on an ice-covered road, up a massive hill. My friend's vehicular genius got us about halfway up the hill before the car stopped moving. Her foot holding down the brake for dear life, my friend called her parents and let them coach us, on speaker phone, through a lengthy recovery process. We backed down the hill. We tried again. Success.

By the time I made it back to the dorm this time around, I was so happy to have simply not died out on the roads that I no longer feared my inevitable death at the hands of my newly-informed parents. I sat down to explain the story to them in an email. As I was adding my final touches, an email from them appeared in my inbox. A message had popped up on my Facebook while my mother was snooping around. (Yeah, my mom knows my Facebook password. This is the first time that's ever been a problem.) She already knew my phone was missing.

Parent-rage phase over, we moved on to replacing the missing items. I pursued the necessary channels on the BMV website to replace my license. My parents vowed to go to our local AT&T store the next day to replace my phone. And, after my 11:00 class on Monday morning, I would head to the card services office and replace my student ID.

At 12:00 that Monday, the University of Notre Dame closed down for two days in accordance with the state of emergency and subsequent travel ban. That's right - card services was closed by the end of my 11:00 class! I ran to their office, just in case, and found it empty. I walked to the Notre Dame police headquarters out in the furthest corner of campus from my dorm and, along with three other girls with the same need, got my new ID printed here where they deal with emergency ID card needs. 20 minutes later, I was back to my dorm. No phone. No license. No feeling in my face or any of my limbs. But I had an ID.

Over the next few days, things returned slowly to a state of semi-normalcy. My new phone arrived on Tuesday; my new case came in on Friday. Slowly, I convinced myself that losing all of my belongings did not in fact make me totally worthless. Things were, on the whole, not bad.

And then yesterday afternoon rolls around. I'm sitting in my room, actually doing homework, believe it or not, and my parents call me. They had just gotten off the phone, they explain, with a lovely gentleman who owns an electronics repair shop here in South Bend. Someone had come in and sold the man this phone. Upon returning it to enough health to reach the "THIS IS NOT YOUR PHONE, CALL THIS NUMBER TO RETURN IT TO ITS RIGHTFUL OWNER, YOU FOUL THIEF" page my parents had set up, he called them to start the process of returning it.

While it sucks that they had already paid for a new phone by this time, this is, essentially, good news, right? Can't hurt to have an extra phone lying around the house for any future circumstances like mine. However, they ask the man, "Wasn't there a case on it?" .....Nope.

That's right, folks - as the electronics guy and my parents realized at this point to their shared chagrin - some random South Bend stranger found my phone somewhere in the snow and sold the separate parts for money. I'm sure the phone brought him or her in a decent chunk of change, and I'm sure that my driver's license made both this person and some lucky overweight brunette in need of a fake ID very, very happy.

Obviously, this is the skeeziest thing that has ever happened to me, and after a nice long chat with the BMV yesterday, it turns out there's absolutely nothing I can do about it! The BMV can't issue me a new driver's license until and unless there's proof of fraudulent activity with the license, and unlike with my student ID, there's no way besides finding and shredding it to deactivate the old one once it has been replaced. Fortunately, I can't get in any trouble for this hypothetical underage girl using my ID as a fake, but this is but a small comfort in a long line of things that range from deeply unfortunate to moderately terrifying.

Now that my replacement ID has found its way through the mail to me, as well, all is technically, on paper, back to normal. Personally, I'm hoping I run into the person using my old ID at the bar this weekend so I can school her sorry behind on how to properly Sarah Cahalan. Until then, I'll be sitting in my room reflecting on the skeeziness of the American public and hating my Justin Bieber cutout for making it back from that party in one unshaken piece.