I was in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M. For 4 years I wore the uniform, and represented the school as a member of the "Nationally Famous, Fightin' Texas Aggie Band" - the largest military band in the world. Many times while in the Band/Corps I was told, or I heard, that we were the face of the university - that we represented it to others, if you will. This was a message I received when I and/or others did something foolish, and also when I/we did something to be proud of. It's a lesson I took to heart, and something I believe very strongly in. I was proud to be a part of A&M's image, and as I excelled through the ranks I always tried to maintain my appearance. I was mindful when talking to people, and when in public, lest I do or say something that would reflect poorly on the university. It made me upset when other members of the Corps would do something that might cause the Corps as a whole, and the University to look bad. It upset me when I saw other members of the Corps in uniform parts that weren't taken care of, or if I saw extremely out of shape Corps members. I was always mindful to instruct those underneath my authority to think about how they looked, and how they acted when they might be observed, so that they too could represent the university well.
And so, now that I'm graduated from the Corps, I still hold that pride. I still get angry when I read about reports of hazing or drunken stupidness. I still get angry when I see members of the Corps looking like crap in uniform, or acting in ways inappropiate to their position as icons for the university. Normally, I can ignore these transgressions - or at least focus on something else. I know that no one is perfect, and that I certainly contributed to my own amount of bad PR before I fully understood my responsibility to the university. I also know there are others like me, still in the Corps, ever vigilant for those underneath them in rank, that may need instruction. But every so often, I come into contact with something that makes me more than simply angry. If I see something amiss in a spotlighted unit such as the Ross Volunteers, for instance, whose job includes being special representatives to the university. Things like that make me want some sort of retribution (hopefully painful) for the offender. This all comes into play with what happened today.
Today, while I was at work, a Corps member came to the window asking for help. Actually, "asking" is putting it too nicely. He demanded that I fix something that was not even in my domain of control. As I went out to the computers in the lobby to try and help him, he informed me that he was going to go and wash his hands - I suppose they were still dirty from the last crimes against humanity he had perpetrated. His insinuation as he informed me of his hand-washing plans, was that I should have the outside computer fixed before he came back. When he came back, he snidely asked if I was "having fun yet?" And proceeded to mess with one of the other computers. When he was unable to login to this computer, I realized that I had talked to this guy on the phone before, and immediately wanted to slit his throat. This was a person that had not only harassed me, but had harassed my co-workers as well. He always has an attitude, he's not gratfeul for services rendered. He approaches every situation in the position that he is owed something. He is grating, abrasive, abusive, and unable to communicate without offending the person he is speaking to. Every converstation with him is an argument. As I helped him log-in to his account (since the log-in procedure had changed, and he was apparently unable to accept change as part and parcel to being alive) he complained to me that the new system was stupid, the university was stupid, and he couldn't understand why it had to work the way it did. Imagine a 4-yr old asking why all the stoplights can't just be green all the time, and you're approaching the level of this subjects arrogance. I tried explaining to him how the system worked, and why it needed to operate the way it did. This was met with a refusal to accept reality as it exists that still baffles me. To top it off, he attempted to assist others in the lobby with computer problems that they were having, no doubt letting them know how stupid and worthless the university was. After thus severely tempting me to inflict serious amounts of pain upon his person, he comes back to the window and wants to know if we have headphones that he can borrow... in a computing help desk, where the only computers we have available are to set up new user's accounts. We're not a lab, and only permit people to use the extra computers when there is not a need for them. But of course, being Memorial Day, the labs are closed, and our presence is wonderfully graced by God himself, come to redeem us mere minions from betraying our lives to stupid endeavors that do not serve Him. Hell, the labs don't even have headphones to be borrowed... sound is not necessary for school work. When I let him know that we didn't have hedphones, he asked if he could purchase some, and leave them here for anyone to use. I told him no, partly because we are not a storage locker, and partly because the precedent that would set, and the headache it could potentially provide for us in the future would not be worth it. This apparently is not a person who often hears the word "No." It wasn't good enough, he needed explantation, hypotheticals, and apparently a good bitch-slap. I explained to him that loaning equipment to students makes us responsible for that equipment, which means extra work and some sort of system to make sure the equipment isn't stolen. It also means having room for it. It also means supporting it hen it breaks. It also means paperwork, lots and lots of paperwork. New Assets have to be logged for tax purposes. State universities also have to track any and all donations, to record their worth and purpose. There are liability forms (what if someone managed to injure themselves using the damn headphones?). As I explained all of this to happy-go-moron, he exclaimed "Why is everyone so afraid of being sued?!" I replied "Because the get sued often." To which he wittily shot back "I've never been sued!" This one caught me off guard... surely he wasn't comparing himself to a major state university? Oh wait, yeah, it looked like he was, so I slowly stated "You are one person, not a major state university - though you are still open to lawsuits, you are not going to be getting them in any where near the same volume as this type of entity." Lucky for me, he was able to take this as an insult, with an attempt to reiterate what I had said as "Oh yeah, it's because I don't have any money, there's nothing for people to sue me for." I had had enough, and I walked away while this moron was still extolling upon his lack of fiscal target for any sort of litigation.
Where does this leave me? Very, very interested in what outfit this person
is in. Why? because I'd like to call his CO and have him as near to executed as possible. Not because he has managed to piss me off (enough to write this novella about it), though that is a very motivating reason normally. But, instead, because I know that he represents the University, the Corps, and (God, I hope not) the Band. That he hasn't yet been beaten until dead, and hidden in one of the steam tunnels, I can only see as a grievous oversight on the part of all the upperclassmen in the Corps. There is, of course, the possibility to they have been doing everything in their power to maybe instruct
this wayward youth in the error of his ways, and that he is just extremely, extremely
hard-headed, and sure in his blind incompetence. If so, the only real solution will be time... when he finally does something to piss off the wrong person, who will either kill him, or beat him soundly. One can only hope that (in the case of the latter) he takes the correct message away from the experience... but I'm not going to make any bets. I can only interpret his existence at all, as some sort of random mutation of genes into the worst combination possible... something that, were we still wild nomads, would have been eradicated as an abhorration of nature. Even with this level of understanding, I'll always be haunted by the fact that this thing
is wearing a uniform. That this thing
is introducing himself as a member of the Corps. That this thing
represents the University that I love to anyone he may run into... and if they have no other basis for which to see and frame Texas A&M, the experience they have with HIM
will be what they generate one from. I can't imagine the kind of potential damage stored therein... it hurts my head to think about it, and it makes me sad. Very
sad. I'm sorry school, I can't protect you.
I found him. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! His name is D.J. Caldwell (I've left his first name as an initial to show some sort of concern for his privacy) and he's in Squadron 12. If anyone that knows him reads this blog (unlikely, but possible), please let him know that he is a huge asshole and that he doesn't deserve to be here.