Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer


How do you do, fellow kids

Photo Credit: Richard Bailey, Staff Contributor

On Oct. 6, the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity held their “Pie a Sigma” event on the Student Union North Patio. For a donation, you could smash a whipped cream pie into the face of a frat member. I recognized a few frat members from a class we took with Dr. Kincaid last year, so I wanted to donate to their cause.

I didn’t want to pie anyone in the face, but someone had to do it. I didn’t want their donation-to-whipped-cream ratio to be off, so I asked someone else to do the honor. I held up my phone and recorded as Sammy – one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met – took great care not to throw the pie with too much force accidentally. In fact, he walked up to the member of Phi Beta Sigma and pretty much set the pie on his face. I posted the video on Snapchat, and a friend of mine sent a message asking what class I had taught.

Oh, geez. I forgot how awkward it could sometimes be to explain that I am not a professor or even a student-teacher. The administration gingerly refers to me as a “returning student.” I took more than a few gap years between my senior year of high school and becoming a student at UIS.

It isn’t something that crosses my mind often, and it’s not like there has ever been a time in any class where we sit around and tell each other our birthdays. Well, there was that time last year in Media Law & Ethics when the student sitting next to me said that he would never forget 9/11 because it was the day he was born. I, however, will never forget 9/11 because they sent us home early from school that day. My high school caught fire, and I drove a 1989 Plymouth Voyager home.

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Still, being older than most of the other students in my classes isn’t something that bothers me. It can often be humbling as I am exposed to different perspectives. There are a lot of times when I listen to other students give answers and think, “Wow – I never would have thought of that.”

While taking Interpersonal Communications and Group Organization with Dr. Beth Ribarsky, we were assigned groups to watch a movie and give a presentation. I was paired with four other students who decided to communicate via Snapchat to arrange meeting times.

“Do you use Snapchat, Richard?” another student in the group, Lauren Post, asked.

“YES, I use Snapchat!” I snarkily replied.

It was a very valid question, to be honest.

We agreed to meet on campus at 9:30 to watch the movie Benchwarmers, a film I had never even heard of – but it was clear that I was the only one in the group who hadn’t.

Also – 9:30?! At night?!

I then remembered that 9:30 to me is like 6:30 to the “average” college student. So, I took a short nap in the early afternoon and headed to campus. As I pulled up to the PAC, I asked why so many people were walking around at that time because I honestly forgot that people lived there. There was, like, some sort of scavenger hunt happening while I was arriving.

“There’s no way,” I said aloud as I imagined myself taking part in the scavenger hunt or any other campus event, for that matter. Not that I wouldn’t expressly want to, but because I feel enough like Billy Madison pulling up in a Pontiac Trans Am blasting Billy Squier (I’ll pause so you can Google all those things). I already feel as if some of the other students in my class look at me as if I am the Federal Air Marshal trying his best – but doing his worst – to blend in with the other passengers on their way to Disney World.

All of that said, it is great to see the presentations by the people I share class space with. There are some who have concerns about the future of America and the “young people today,” but I am here to report that the future looks very bright.

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