Opportunities to expand your horizons are just an elevator away



On a relatively normal Tuesday, with rain suggesting a precursor to the Second Great Flood, I found myself at work delivering flyers to the Student Center.

Particularly disgruntled, due mostly to the fact that I still have not had the intelligence to purchase an umbrella, I pressed the down button for an elevator in Patterson Office Tower and absorbed in ideas as to how to keep these flyers dry.

I was not at all looking forward to a day absorbed in work, meetings, preparing for finals and most likely failing to stay dry throughout.

As I waited for the elevator, absorbed in thought, a middle-aged man walked up and stood next to me.

It was one of those situations where two people are waiting for an elevator, and neither one is sure whether or not to strike up a conversation. I, for one, was not in any sort of mood to engage in small talk. When we did that split-second, caught-your eye-thing, he said, “Good afternoon!” Internally groaning, I replied in a more-than-chipper manner, “How are you?”

The professor, whose name I never learned, turned out to be a visiting teacher from South Africa. We talked about tornadoes, a meteorological phenomenon he had never seen in his country.

Getting onto the elevator, stepping out into the pouring rain, it struck me how very unique an opportunity that was.

I have four years of my life to engage in the academic world, and I am only wasting it by worrying about staying dry and being tired rather than trying to talk to and learn from as many people as possible.

Here was a man with an entire lifetime of experiences accumulated half way across the world, a man who had most likely seen the end of apartheid and the rise of Nelson Mandela. A man fascinated by what I see as a nuisance that only means a slew of texts from UK Alert. This entire catharsis was brought about by a “good afternoon.”

There’s a big world out there, and college is the best location to get to know as much of it as possible. Don’t be afraid to get your feet (or, in a Lexington spring, your entire body) wet.