We Will Deliver

A bus wanders down the lonely highway, its dirty sides reflecting with the late afternoon sun.  Behind its black-tinted windows are tomorrow’s engineers and doctors, social workers and educators; but one would not think this if they saw them now.  The eyes of these brilliant souls are glassy, their arms stiff and sore.  They are clad in thick coats and wooly socks, mother’s scarves and grandma’s hats.  At this hour, they are children seeking home.

The bus turns from the main road to a path that is far too old to withstand its modern girth.  Still, it squeezes itself onto the gravelly funnel and rolls forth with unbending confidence.  No one else has dared to venture out, today: the ground is covered in a thick blanket of snow, and all else is tucked beneath a sheet of ice.  Nothing moves while the hulking product of will and industry makes its mighty journey.  Its movement in this time-capsule corner of the country evokes from its inhabitants a passive sense of trust.

Even the trains are frozen still, taking shelter beneath sturdy pines and tall maple skeletons.  Their skins are scarred with stripes of precipitation, and their iron hearts are colder than the air itself.  As the bus charges past their mummified faces, they make a silent promise.

We Will Deliver, they say.

Will they?

The Many Joys of “Dorm Cooking”

I’m usually skeptical when it comes to other people saying my generation is the “rudest yet,” until I step into the kitchen of my residence hall on a weekend morning.  The weather is getting colder here in Minnesota and, although I am a winter lover, I am not so keen on walking all the way to the dining hall for something I could make with a few bowls and a microwave.

It seems like nobody else is, either; but that does not excuse the yellow-and-orange pattern of Ramen residue and Velveeta crust that greet me on those quiet two days that separate last week from the next.  Noodles are cemented to the bottoms of pans, and bottles of perishables are strewn about the counter.  This is only a minor exaggeration.

You could tell me it isn’t my problem, and you would be right.  However, I grew up in a household where, if you did anything, you at least rinsed your dishes with soap and water before doing anything else.  I concede I never perfected the pattern, yet there is a point when the neglect of a public, shared space becomes impossible to ignore.  I love to cook, whether it happens in the microwave or elsewhere, and there is something about abundant filth that gives me the heebie-jeebies.

As a result, I clean the kitchen.  A chore of fifteen minutes or less in length, I wonder why the midnight snackers of the weekend’s eve could not take care of their own property.  Heavy sanitation is not needed – just a little tête-a-tête (or main-a-bol) between your hands, your bowl, and the dish soap that is mysteriously renewed by an unknown force every two-or-so weeks.

***

            Speaking of unknown forces, which of them is taking all the forks?

Sometimes I wonder if we are aware that someone probably purchased these utensils (or bowls, or plates) and that, while they may not care whether or not you borrow them, they would like to have them back.  The same goes with food – I don’t mind if you put some of my ketchup on your fries, but I would like to consume at least some of what I buy.  Although the latter doesn’t happen often, there is nothing more disheartening than finding the eggs for your omelet were probably used for someone else’s pancakes.

“Welcome to share” has its limits too, you know, and there is a point when you should ask permission.

***

            Aside from their difficulties in wiping countertops and utter disregard for other peoples’ property, I still have some hope for my generation.  I still don’t think we’re as demanding as the one that will follow us, having seen ten-year-olds begging for the latest iPhone (and getting it, too, no questions asked).  I also know that I tend to verge on picky when it comes to my circumstances, and that I am prone to critiquing small, easily-fixable things.  I guess that’s what comes from having been raised with high standards, and expecting them of yourself.

Still, though, would it bother anyone if we wiped away the brothy microwave explosion?  I think not.