As far as Thanksgiving weekends go, mine was pretty great. Instead of battling my way through a crowded airport to get to my family, they converged on me in New York City; my younger brother from Montana, and my parents from Europe. Between enjoying their company (we all hadn’t been together since August), the luxury of staying in a hotel, and fancier meals, I was in college student heaven. Yet, no holiday can pass without some manifestation of drama. For me, it arrived in the form of a missing key.
Somewhere between picking up my Thanksgiving dinner outfit at my dorm and the moment I tore my coat and purse apart in the hallway outside my door, it slipped into obscurity. Later that afternoon as I sat in our empty hotel room watching the clock tick down to checkout, I racked my brain for answers. However, it was no use. The key might as well have not existed at all.
When I arrived back at my dorm, I knew little of the Goliath of bureaucracy that is NYU’s missing key policy. After filling out a violently green form and informing my parents that this mistake was going to cost $25, I got the backup key, went up to my room, and let myself in. I told myself that it was a minor inconvenience. No big deal.
Let's just say that I was very wrong.
Just after 8:30 that night, I heard a knock. It was the RA on duty informing me that I needed to hand over the backup key for the night. Being one of those human disasters that never has more than milk and some stray condiments in her fridge, I sputtered out a pathetic excuse that I hadn’t gotten dinner yet. After explaining that I could follow after-hours lock-out procedure as long I came right back, I dashed out the door to grab a slice of pizza. Upon my return, the key was taken, and I was effectively trapped in the building for the rest of the night.
For the next four days, it was the same story. Resource Center hours and availability controlled my ability to access my own room. While I certainly appreciated the attention to security, the fact that an entity other than myself determined when and how easily I could enter my own living space was especially jarring. Personal space is incredibly important to me, and having your access to it restricted or limited is more disorienting than one might think, especially in a city where there is so little of it.
In short, I certainly won’t be taking my privilege of personal space for granted from now on, and neither should you. Step one: buy a key ring.