This Is College: Life In The Clocktower
Politics and Activism

This Is College: Life In The Clocktower

A privilege, an education, another alarm signaling another responsibility.

University of Northern Iowa

I woke up to an alarm clock ringing this morning like any other Wednesday and donned my cleanest (AKA most freshly Febreeze-d) work uniform, poured my morning caffeine allowance, and sat down to an earmarked textbook and an online class portal.

Another alarm clock rang to signal my scramble to collect notebooks, assignments, wallet, work apron, and laptop charger on my way out the door to pick up the sweetest little boy from school, shouting a promise to do my dishes later to my roommate on my way out.

School pick-up is always fun, I stand behind a crowd of parents filling out a volunteer application on my cell phone until the boy I’m waiting for comes out of the school. We talk about his math test we’ve been practicing so hard for and the contents of today’s lunch box. While nannying today, we stop by the bank, the post office, and the library. My little man asks how much time has passed and if he can have his promised treat yet for allowing me a chance to read a brief chapter for a book critique. We stop by the bakery next. I realize I haven’t eaten yet today.

The afternoon slips by too fast and my little man is washing his hands for dinner. I’m out the door and another alarm clock signals me off to the next job, digging in my car for a protein bar and bottle of water. My night is spent washing drink glasses and delivering salads, talking to people about their steak and drawing smiley faces on guests’ checks in hopes for my hard-earned 20%. Then the guests go home to their beds and I go to the broom closet to change the bag in the vacuum cleaner so I can clean up the mess they leave behind.

The restaurant’s chairs are upturned on the tables and lights out and I sink into the driver’s seat of the car I feel I live out of some days, my feet are killing me. It’s out of gas. Again. Sigh. Soon enough, I’m sitting back down to an online portal, research for a paper I haven’t finished, and a book critique that’s due this week. A little late night food delivery and I’m typing full speed on a laptop I can only pray lasts me until graduation.

A yawn, a stretch, and a stroll over to the printers where an office worker greets me by name, gesturing to the plastic restaurant nametag I adorned with a yellow sticker. I’m still wearing it. It’s 5:30 AM, just another Thursday. I work all three of my jobs today and need to prepare a speech for my honor society. I’m sure an alarm clock will chime in soon to remind me.

This is college. It’s long days and nonexistent nights. It’s stressful and draining. It’s hard work that seems to have no end. It’s the feeling of living in the campus clocktower, a life dictated by a clock chiming. It’s an experience we try so hard not only to survive, but to set ourselves apart through. A privilege, an education, another alarm signaling another responsibility.

“Can you come in early?” -My Boss

I guess I’ll do my dishes tomorrow.

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