Thursday, June 7, 2007


A friend recently directed me to this article about all the stuff college students leave behind at the end of the year. As a graduate of one of the schools mentioned in the article, I can attest that the amount of stuff (furniture, books, clothes, things you can't even imagine) piled in dorm lounges and on the lawns between the senior apartments is unbelievable. Although Davidson is one of the smaller schools listed in the article the amount of stuff left behind probably rivals that of larger schools because everyone lives on campus.

I think the school started making an effort to donate usable items during my senior year, but before that anything left behind was first come, first served. I was one of the last people to move off campus my sophomore and junior years and picked up enough storage pieces (shelves, stacked drawers) to eliminate the need to ever buy others. The lamp in my office was picked up from the pile of unwanted things at the end of my junior year and still looks and works great. My alarm clock and a pair of brand-new flannel monkey pajama pants (like these) came from that same pile.

I obviously had (and have) very little shame about re-purposing people's trash so I could get a little carried away. For example, I pulled a street sign (intersection of Depot and Jackson streets) out of the pile at the senior apartments after my junior year. Instant decoration! College-town authenticity! It ended up sitting under our sink for most of the year until Ryan Auster decided to separate the individual street signs by jumping on it in our hallway (and putting a big rip in the carpet). Someone wanted the Jackson half and the Depot half ended up on the junk pile at the end of the year for some lucky underclassman to claim.

I worked on campus the summer before my senior year and was able to live in my assigned senior year apartment over the summer. At the end of the summer there was a mini-move-out day where all the underclassmen and non-Davidson students who had spent the summer in the senior apartments had to move out. As it happened, my mom and sister were visiting during that time and we spent the day away from campus since I didn't have to move during this time. When we came back to the apartments after dinner, there was a futon and an entertainment center near the pile of stuff that had accumulated over the day. Our apartment needed an entertainment center so my sister and I lugged it up the stairs and I got busy positioning my tv and vcr in the cabinet and reconnecting all the cables. My sister was interested in the futon so we picked up and carried it half-way to my mom's car before she decided it wasn't really worth it to take it all the way back to Tennessee.

Later that night I was sitting alone in my apartment, watching tv and thinking of how excited my roommates would be that I had scored this great entertainment center, when I noticed someone looking in the windows. A minute later there was a knock at the door and I opened it to find an underclassman (I think he was from Africa but I wouldn't swear to it) pointing at my entertainment center. "Did you get that from in front of the building?" Totally busted. Turns out he had left it there with the futon while he went to find a friend to help him move it across campus. He graciously offered to come back later to pick it up rather than standing in the doorway and watching me unconnect all the wires while trying not to die from shame. When he came back with his friend to move the cabinet he asked about the futon. "It looks like someone was going to take it because it's 50 yards away from where I left it. Do you know what happened?" I just kept my mouth shut and shook my head. It had, after all, been my sister's idea to take it. I was merely an accessory to that particular theft.

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