Nice Things.

As a lot of you know, I work at a college. (I try not to post the name of it that often, just in case I say something wildly stupid. I don’t want that to reflect poorly on the school, as per my “Disclaimer” thingy over to the right.) As with any job, there’s stuff I could complain about, if I wanted to. Every job has that, and it’s usually exactly the same stuff that everyone complains about everywhere…so there’s no point. Take your job and assume I’ve got the same complaints about mine. It all really adds up to nothing, and the 1% of my job I don’t like is really arbitrary next to the 99% I love. So I don’t want to do a list of complaints today…

 

Instead, I want to take this post and write about a few of the folks around campus that I really appreciate, and particularly those who I think are probably not appreciated enough by everyone (no offense to anybody). Just folks who do awesome stuff, but because of who they are, they don’t get too much of the spotlight. (For the record, I hear nothing but praise for these folks when their names come up…most of them are just humble enough that their names don’t come up that often.)

 

So here we go…

 

  1. I appreciate our Cafeteria and its workers. As you’d imagine, sometimes all they hear are complaints. That’s natural. If you eat somewhere every day, it eventually gets a little “blah,” especially if it’s a place that pretty much cooks what it cooks and you either eat it or you’ve got to go get fast food. I get that, to an extent… But, I think our Cafeteria Workers do a great job of serving up a variety of different foods and typically take everything with a smile. I’ve gotten great service from folks down there, even on days that I can tell they’re a little frazzled. Plus, they make the best biscuits and gravy this side of Waffle House (maybe even a little better!). Those folks do amazing things with just the basics sometimes, and they deserve it whenever someone says something nice about them—which I hope is a lot. They’re awesome. I eat there a lot.
  2. I appreciate our cleaning staff, which has been mostly one person this semester. Her name’s Judy. She works HARD. She has some student assistants, too, but she’s out there in the thick of it herself, never expecting her student workers to do tasks she won’t do. That, folks, is great leadership. Plus, she does the jobs no one wants to do and manages to smile while doing it. She’s a genuinely nice woman and does a lot that goes unnoticed around campus. That means she’s doing her job well. If you NOTICED the cleaning, then it’d be a problem. She manages to make it look like our campus is self-cleaning somehow…and like I said, she’s also a really good person. So right on, Judy!
  3. I appreciate our Bookstore. I like the ladies who run the place, and their student workers are really pleasant people, too. They’re always willing to take a minute out of their day to help you find something or to chat about whatever inane topic you happen to blurt out. Plus, I sometimes think colleges universally forget how important their Bookstores are. They do more than just textbooks sales. They also sell your t-shirts, hats, and what-have-you that do a lot of promotion for your school. They also sell snacky-stuff and drinks to keep you going on days when it’s only 11:00 in the morning, but it feels like 11:00 at night. They also sell little nick-nacky stuff and fun things that you might not think to pick up if you didn’t walk in there. Bookstores are great…and I think ours is one of the best.
  4. I appreciate our maintenance crew, particularly Lou, who runs it. These guys do AMAZING work. Any time I’ve had a problem, they show up within moments and whatever wasn’t working is running perfectly by the time they’re out. They have an entire campus to deal with, each building with its own little specific problems. (As you might imagine, if you’ve ever worked in a multi-building workplace, that can present quite a variety of repair work!) They do it all, and they do it well. These guys pour their sweat, blood, and probably a few other things into their work, and they do amazing repair work with very little outright replacement, and very few “well-get-to-it-next-week” moments. Plus, Lou’s a great guy. One of my favorite folks to see around campus, even though our chats are usually brief.
  5. I appreciate our Security team. Security on campus has been amped up in the post-Virginia-Tech world. We’re not a gated campus with rifle-towers or anything like that (though I wouldn’t necessarily shake my head if we DID get a gate), but we’re a lot safer than we used to be. They’re even ticketing cars that aren’t parked where they’re supposed to be parked for pretty much the first time (since I’ve been on campus, anyway). They’re a small team, like pretty much every staff around campus (we’re a small campus…that equals small staffs), but they do a big job. I’m sure they can’t prevent EVERYTHING…who can? But in the long run, I feel safer on campus this year than I ever have in previous ones, thanks to them. (That also speaks well of our Administrators, who really stepped up to the plate on making the campus safer after the VT shootings. They’ve done great work in that respect, too…but they’re my bosses, so I don’t want to write too much and make it look like I’m sucking up!) 🙂
  6. I appreciate our Music Department. I’ve been a musician for…actually I’ve lost count of the years…but longer than I haven’t been. As such, I have a natural bias toward music/art education. But even taking that into consideration, I think our Music Dept. does a great job of tapping into the natural talents of our students and making them grow. I won’t get too deeply into it, but for those of you non-musicians, you probably don’t realize how BIG a job that is. Someone who enrolls in a college music-program most likely comes to the table already knowing how to play something or sing. They come in having been in high-school bands or choirs…or maybe they lead worship at their church already, but are seeking the actual degree. They come in already KNOWING a lot of what a typical music curriculum will teach. That’s just the nature of the game…and that makes it incredibly difficult to be the music teacher. It’s hard to meet up with someone who already knows a lot about the subject, then have to TEACH them about the subject. If someone comes in for their first guitar lesson having just bought their first guitar, that’s easy. Take that same teacher and tell him his new student is David Gilmour, and that’s going to be a hard set of lessons. Our folks, though, seem to take our music students and direct what they ALREADY know into new directions. That’s not only impressive, it’s amazing.
  7. Finally—and, yes, I know this is cheesy—I appreciate our Students. Not just because I wouldn’t have a job without them. I appreciate them for who they are. It’d be easy to focus on the ones who are struggling and who don’t make it—every school has those…but we’ve got some really INCREDIBLE ones that DO make it. We have a guy who returned this semester after having been gone for a couple of years to care for a sick kid. I never thought I’d see him again, once he withdrew…but he’s here. He WANTS his degree and he WANTS to serve God with it. We have another guy (an older student) who just graduated; but when he started, he didn’t know how to turn a computer, much less write a paper…and at graduation last year, he particularly sought me out, thanked me for showing him how to do all of the computer stuff I’d shown him over the years, and told me he couldn’t have done it without me. (That kind of thing is LIFE-CHANGING, folks.) We have another person who saw me walking with my cane one day last month and has since come by my office twice a week and prayed for my knee to feel better. (You have no idea how much that means, until you have a chronic injury and someone does that for you.) I could go on and on…we have some really AMAZING students. Maybe they’re not under-appreciated, to be fair…but I’d guess no one other that myself—and now you—knows about the person who’s been praying for my knee, or the person who thanked me for the help in the computer lab, or the others that do incredible things that I’ll probably never hear about…

Folks like those above, if they’re unnoticed, it’s strictly because they don’t WANT to be noticed. At our campus, we do a great job of recognizing the individual achievements of those who excel or go out of their way to do something good…when we KNOW about it. But there’s a lot we just don’t know, because our campus is different. Around here, there are few who do anything with the intention of being noticed. There are few who WANT the limelight. There are few who will ever be in the history books (including a missions professor who SHOULD be in the books, but whose been fairly intentional in keeping his name out of them so far). We’ve got a lot of humility at this school. That’s something you just don’t find a lot of places…and it’s part of what makes working here great.

 

So…yeah…just wanted to say that. I do a lot of complaining about stuff on this blog (mostly because, let’s face it, clouds are more interesting than sunshine), but every now and again, I’m reminded that there are things worth a GOOD word. So there were several.

 

Tomorrow, I’ll try to get back to gloomy stuff, books, music, and TV again…after all, I still have all that stuff to read and watch from a few posts ago! 🙂

————

Current Listening:

  • I made a playlist on my iPod of all the stuff I haven’t really absorbed yet and put it on “shuffle.” It’s like 500 songs. Going to be a long weekend…
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