Freshman Daughter, Freshman Dad

By Larry Druckenbrod

As his only child embarks on her collegiate journey, a freshman parent chronicles the experience—40 years on from his own days as a college freshman. Larry Druckenbrod is also assistant director of Career Services.

Someone’s calling….again!

Does every generation wish for a simpler time?  My goal this week is to read email at work only for 30 minutes in the morning, and 30 minutes before I go home.  At this moment I have 174 unread email.  No one talks to anyone anymore.  And when we are actually talking to someone, someone gets a call, or a text, same thing, an interruption.  Constant.

So, Valkyrie is visiting me and I’m telling her some story that I find quite amusing, and it must relate somehow to her college experience and mine.  As I wax nostalgic I hear the hummbration, kind of like a very small dentist’s drill.  She reaches over and picks up her cell.  Mind you, it’s not in her backpack or in her pocket, it’s out and on the desk.  Sometime’s it’s just sort of attached to her hand, it’s omnipresent.

I’m still talking and she’s reading her text and then she’s texting.  I stop talking.  She finishes her text, puts the cell down, and looks at me.  “What?” she says.  “That’s rude” I say.  “What?” she says.

“I’m talking to you and you look at your cell and then you text someone.  That’s rude!”

“Dad, only you and mom think it’s rude.  My friends don’t think it’s rude.  This is what we do.  I was listening to you.  You were talking about when you were in that music survey class and how fantastic you thought Dvorak’s 9th Symphony was, ‘the Old World Symphony.'”  “It’s the New World Symphony and I rest my case.”

“Dad, if I’m with say five of my friends, we talk, we text, no problem.  No one gets mad.”

I’m about ready to blow a gasket.  “Valkyrie, you do this all the time.  You’ve been doing it since you got a cell phone, and I don’t even know how long ago that was” and blah blah blah and I see her eyes begin to glaze over and my eyes must be glazing over and I feel like I’m being swept away by some enormous tide, just being carried away.

Later, I talk to one of the students in my office.  Joanne is a senior.  She says “Oh my god, freshmen are the worst!  I mean, my generation is bad but they are just the worst.  They’ve just grown up with this, it’s all they know, they don’t get it at all!” she rants.

I’m meeting with a student.  He’s graduating in May, and wants to find a job.  I’m suggesting some strategies when I hear the hummbration again.  He says “excuse me” and bends down, opens his backpack, looks at the message, and returns to look at me.  I look at him.  He says “what?”

I don’t want 174 emails sitting there, lurking, and I am starting to hate the hummbration, everywhere, everywhere someone is talking to someone, you can’t even ride an elevator without being part of some inane conversation.

I’m feeling a little cranky about this.  I want a simpler time.

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