So I got an email from my wife saying that I, and I alone, was to deliver our son and his belongings at the beginning of his freshman year. A four-hour drive there, pack, four-hour drive home. No co-pilot. Flying solo.
Foster Quadrangle Residence Hall. Back in my time, it was a dorm, possibly a dormitory, but now it’s a polygonal residence hall.
When someone says, “You know, this polygonal residence hall naming convention is simply too blasé, we need something more exciting.” What will replace it? Dormitory wasn’t good enough. Now polygonal residence hall is not good enough either.
Introducing the Foster Multi-Spherical Palace of Inhabitational Existence.
Tip #1: You’ll underestimate the amount of crap your offspring will take.
Fortunately I rented, and I’m not making this up, a 2016 Dodge Ram ProMaster City Tradesman® Cargo Van. I opted not to rent the 2016 Dodge Ram ProMaster City Tradesman® SLT Cargo Van, because I’d have to spell out “Super Luxury Transport” as part of the description and only had one day to drop him and two tons of Ramen noodles off.
Important side note: The DRPMCTSLTCV is a shockingly sprite, energetic Fiat Doblò. Which is built in Turkey, and to circumvent the “chicken tax,” no lie, is imported as a typical passenger minivan then gutted in the US to convert it into a cargo van. Google it.
Tip #2: Find a handtruck/dolly, lots of bungee cords, some strong trash bags and a Fiat Doblò.
Find a dolly with the biggest foot thing, that shelfy thing you put stuff on, on the bottom of the dolly. You’ll load it up, then put some bungees around it to hold your offspring’s crap to the dolly thing. If you forgot to bring a dolly, and you really shouldn’t forget to bring a dolly, you might be able to use one of the wheeled recycling bin cart things they have at the Inhabitational Existence Facilities, but then you’re putting your kid’s belongings in what’s essentially a trash can, hence, you won’t forget to bring a dolly.
Tip #3: Your offspring won’t have packed.
Don’t fight it, just prepare for it. That’s why you have trashbags, to just Santy Claus that crap into the Diablo.
Tip #4: Bungee your load.
I know that sounds like a punchline to a bad office joke, but seriously. With mounds of random stuff hurriedly dumped into the back of your Fiat Doblò, you must bungee stuff down, make a fence, wherever you can, to keep that crap from sliding, banging and crashing, and most importantly avalanching out when you open your Fiat Doblò at the Inhabitational Existence Facility.
Tip #5: Park anywhere you can, nearest you can to their Inhabitational Existence Facility.
While towing is Bloomington’s second largest source of revenue (beer bong componentry is #1), park anywhere. It’s parking anarchy on moving-in day. No rules. If it’s a triple-handicapped space with a fire hydrant and a fire truck next to it, park there. Park now. Don’t be hesitant. You can always move if you’re a pansy, but you can’t go back and park on top of the other car that wisely parked there when you chickened out. Like a pansy.
Important tangential side note: One of my clients is a German manufacturer. And one of the biggest, most common German insults, to call someone a pansy in German, is, “Schattenparker.” Which means, “to park your car in the shade” so your car doesn’t get hot. Apparently, real German men have horrible blister scars on their backs, rumphosens and legs from sitting on incredibly hot vinyl seats left in the scorching German sun to impress the Fräuleins.
“Gretel, look aht dohs horrible blistahs on dat handsome Hansel’s legs ovah dair! He’s ahn uber mann!”
Tip #6: You’ll wait FOREVER to get the elevator.
The Foster Quadrangle Residence Hall of Cohabitational Existence of Humanity has maybe a dozen floors, 1,200 rooms per floor, yet only two elevators, each the size of a Jolly Rancher® Green Apple Flavored Hard Candy. And here’s the kicker, one of the elevators is continually commandeered by the Forest Quadrangle Custodial Crew who are shuttling an endless amount of crap the students leave in the hallways to the basement, then probably ending up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Not because they’re not diligent, more because the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has filled up with so many Justin Bieber t-shirts, it has gravitational pull.
Super duper important side note: Treat the Custodial Crew like celebrities. Why? First off, they’re going to deal with your kid’s crap all year. At insane times of the night. Collecting insane body fluids your kid lovingly left in the hallway. Secondly, they have master keys to everything, know where everything is, know secret passage ways. When I was there, one exceptionally nice custodial crew woman used her master key on the elevator to rescue me, as I was stuck in no-elevator purgatory, with my dolly overloaded like the Grinch’s sled, held by seven bungees. When the door opened, there was one father who was eager to see who I was, and said with a strong New York Bronx accent, “Buddy, you must be a celebrity, because she wouldn’t let anyone on until she saw you.”
Tip #7: Pack a small cooler of beverages with ice.
Bloomington always mirrors the climate of Zimbabwe. No matter where you came from, it’s going to be hotter and muggier in Bloomington. I don’t care if you came from the molten center of the earth, Bloomington will be hotter. During the chaos of unpacking the Diablo it’s nice to have instant access to some Lemon-Lime Gatorade®. It’s the best flavor ever. Ice cold. Right there. In Zimbabwe. Oh yeah. That’s good stuff. Now offer one to the Custodial Crew Woman of the Gods.
Tip #8 (Possibly the most important one.) Be cheerful.
Everyone is tense. Everyone hates the Jolly Rancher Vator that never arrives. Everyone’s hot. And in this fracas of frustration when people see you smiling, singing, laughing, making silly jokes… you’ll make the day a whole lot better for you, them, and your soon-to-be, hopefully, slightly more educated offspring.
Dan Carter is a 1990 Marketing Major from the Kelley School of Business. Most of his career has been working as an account manager in advertising agencies. His hobbies include auto repair, cooking, rebuilding iPhones and gluing soles of his son’s discarded basketball shoes onto his worn-out Crocs™ to extend the life of the unisex clogs (and look like a rockstar).