A UCF Groundskeeper Taught Me How To Live In The Now

A UCF Groundskeeper Taught Me How To Live In The Now

The morning of September 28, 2016.
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Wednesday waked me with a weary twilight lit room. I think I've overslept and throw off my bed covers. I still feel groggy after my shower and from last night but I can't think about yesterday. Today was still mine, at least the morning was so far. I get dressed and walked out into the hallway to find unfilled trash bags next to trash and overflowing trash bags in the kitchen. Across the window sill in the common area was a row of empty, green Dos Equis beer bottles, hidden behind the shades and on display anyone outside this side of the building.

I walked out of the apartment to where the sun peaked through the low-hanging clouds while the ghost moon stained a cloudless, orphan blue sky above. The campus landscapers had already cut the grass and foliage and sat in the shade of their manicured lawn. Work rewarded work with quiet completeness. That's why I like the mornings; the process of having work to do and having it done to make the rest of the day yours. This and to leave the dorm behind.

I had been walking to class the usual route and it's long but the mornings are great practice for taking your time. Next to the trail I walked in the parking lot were two groundskeepers collecting trash bags near the still dormant dormitories. I don't make eye contact usually when I'm walking out in public, but one of them decided to. He was portly and had the furrows of a totem pole head and a ponytail a horse might mistake for his own. He caught me off guard and said, "Good morning," and after a brief pause continued with, "You look like you have the whole world under control," or something to that effect.

I don't remember the exact phrasing but I then replied, "Good morning" back with the answer "I think so," somewhat with a smile and carried on. I had been carrying my Oxford edition of John Milton's works in one hand and walking with a straight posture and good stride. I wonder if that caught his gaze and made him infer further in an innocent way.

Working in a university, you're bound to have that conversation when everyone is practically a student and more or less crossing each other's paths. It could have been my tense lips contrasted with my squinted eyes and brows. I had the tunnel vision of a person on a treadmill, not thinking of anything out of motion. I needed to work, I needed the moment to myself but it was shared instead with a stranger who saw right through me.

The night before was spent with my roommates, me behind my door, them yelling and banging on my door. The more I mention them, the more immortalized they become. They are no more mates than they are room for improvement. I've kept reminding myself that they are insignificant boys without sensibilities. They care for none and God help whatever and whoever they do care about. I know better than to give them free real estate but here is the exception.

That morning, even if it felt out of place, made me feel good because I was doing the right thing: being a student. Before any roommates came into the picture and left soon after, I was never to blame for them or their behavior towards me. I was grateful for the recognition of that moment with the groundskeeper who helped me remember I belonged and that there are three types of days everyone has. Yesterday is one less day to worry about, tomorrow needs no worry because tomorrow doesn't exist yet, and today is all I have and what I do now matters because I matter. To paraphrase Mark Twain, if you do the right thing, you'll never be wrong.

Cover Image Credit: Brent Mitchell Wiggins

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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Adults, Quit Stereotyping Teenagers

They're real people with real emotions, and you need to treat them as such.

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"You're only acting like that because you're a teenager."

"She's just at that age, you know?"

"I'm so tired of your teenage attitude."

Do any of these sound familiar?

Well, they do to me. When I was a teenager, I couldn't go a single day without hearing these kinds of stereotypical phrases from an adult.

It was like I was of a different species for 6 years of my life.

Everyone talks about the "dreaded teen years" which are thought to be the "terrible two's" on steroids.

It makes teenagers sound like a group of monsters when they're just human beings going through a crucial time in their development.

It doesn't help that teens are horribly stereotyped in movies and TV as being moody, rude, disrespectful and rebellious all the time. To viewers, it's as if they have no other identity.

Yes, I'm aware puberty plays a role in teen emotions and behavior. I was there once.

Between changing bodies, acne, weight gain, mood swings, peer pressure and feeling extremely self-conscious, I can understand how some behavior can be attributed to "the age".

But I think there's more to it than that.

The "teen years", or any "years" for that matter, will bring hardships.

Whether you're 13 or 30, being in love can feel like you're floating on a cloud, and breakups hurt.

Stress, whether it comes from a school project or a work project, is hard to deal with.

No matter how old you are, there are some things life just doesn't prepare you for.

Teenagers need love. Why don't adults know how to show it?

Adults, when your teenager is acting up, how do you handle it?

Do you talk to them in a calm, level-headed way, or do you blow up at them?

Do you listen to understand, or do you listen to judge?

Do you even listen at all, or do you dismiss their feelings (that all humans have) because they're "just at that age"?

Do you ask them about their life, interests, classes, hobbies, opinions, and feelings?

Do you set aside time to spend with them?

If someone asked me if anyone ever tried to get to know me at that age, my answer would be a solid "no".

Don't even get me started on the whole "teens are looking for love in all the wrong places" ordeal.

I understand why people get involved with things and people that are harmful to them.

When you're being judged for everything you do, constantly having huge amounts of pressure put on you, not understanding what's going on with yourself, it can be very scary.

Sometimes people just need to escape.

This can be prevented. Talk to your teens. Ask them about their lives. Provide them with a safe, judgment-free environment. Let them know you care.

If you don't want your teens looking for love in the wrong places, you need to show them love in the right places.

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