By Allison Adams 04-19-10 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 04-19-10
Those of you with college-aged kids know that this time of year is their “Crunch Time”.
They are facing deadlines for research papers, class projects, and required convocation hours. As a result, they are sleep-deprived … even more than normal.
They are in the middle of strategic negotiations with next year’s prospective roommates for next year’s prospective housing.
They are using the barter system and living on pocket change because they’ve already spent every penny from this semester’s Campus Cash card.
Meanwhile, the ugly Final Exam Monster lays waiting for its next victims.
Last weekend, when I showed up at my daughter’s dorm room for a quick visit, I was not really surprised to discover that she was in dire straits.
When I asked if I could visit her restroom after my long drive, I learned that she and her roommate had run out of toilet paper days earlier, and were borrowing on an as-needed basis from the next-door neighbors (who were also running dangerously low).
Her printer cartridge was out of ink, so when she needed to print a document from her computer, she sent a few SOS text messages to friends, and then dashed all over campus to find a buddy who could print it for her.
The air conditioner in her car blew hot air. Her bicycle had a flat tire.
She offered me some peanut butter-on-a-spoon, and water from a Brita-filtered pitcher, which I was smart enough to politely decline.
She said she was too busy with schoolwork to take care of superfluous items like car repairs, and a flat bicycle tire, or shopping for food, printer ink, and toilet paper. She said she was living inside a bubble filled with school-induced stress and strife.
Woe was she.
“At least you’re not Polish.” I offered.
“The Poles – well, actually the whole world – is mourning the loss of Poland’s president, his wife, and dozens of Poland’s top political and military leaders. They were among 96 passengers who died in an airplane crash. They were on their way from Poland to Smolensk, Russia, where they were to attend the first ceremony to honor the memory of 20,000 Polish who were massacred there 70 years ago. The irony in this tragedy is not lost, as this was the first time in history that the Russians had acknowledged this anniversary.”
“Yes, it is. And now there are world leaders who are trying to get to Poland to pay their respect for the lost, but many can’t get there because of the volcanic ash cloud.”
“There was a huge volcanic eruption in Iceland. Among other things, it produced a gigantic cloud of volcanic ash, which has invaded a good bit of the earth’s northern-most atmosphere, making air travel impossible in some areas.”
“Not since 9-11 has there been a larger air-traffic shut-down. Thousands of people are stranded in airports all over the world.”
“Yes, it is. That natural disaster seems to have temporarily eclipsed the 6.9 magnitude earthquake that took place in China. There, thousands are dead and missing.”
“Oh my gosh!”
“And those poor mining communities in West Virginia are reeling from the worst mining disaster since 1970.”
“I’m afraid to ask. What happened?”
“A mine explosion killed 29 miners.”
“Yes. Sadness has also fallen upon the Cherokee Nation. Wilma Mankiller, the first female in modern history to become Chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and the first female to lead a major Native American tribe, passed away earlier this month.”
“Oh, how sad!”
“Yes. It sort of makes the reaction to the whole tomato debacle seem silly – don’t you think?”
“Oh my gosh, what happened to the tomatoes?”
“About 80% of the tomato crop in Florida froze, leaving very little to supply the demand. What there is available now is substandard, and very expensive.”
“The tomatoes froze?”
“Yes, dear. I’m afraid they did.”
“Suddenly the fact that I’ve been living sleep-deprived inside a stress-filled bubble, without a few necessities, seems so trite.”
“Just try to keep it all in perspective.”
“Oh, I will.”
“Now, what do you say we get out of here and go buy you a brand new roll of toilet paper?”
“You just about had me.”
“I’ll throw in a new printer ink cartridge.”