As you pull into the charming hamlet of your small liberal arts college, take heed, fair sophomorics. You may feel inspired in the manner of Thoreau to take the Road Less Traveled by carving a whole new muddy path that never before existed until you double-parked your Pathfinder outside the ivy-laced dorm.
Consider, though, the campus landscapers. They have toiled all summer, during your beach bingo hiatus. They labored in the hot July sun, with only a small trickle of prospective student tours to bear witness to their handiwork.
They were the ones tasked with Edward Scissorhanding the bushes on the hill that greeted you. They pared and shaped the shrubbery that spelled the name of what will one day, with any luck, become your alma mater. The President of the College may have even deigned to e-mail the foreman of the landscaping squad that the “R” was looking a little too much like a “P.” (And you thought the only letters that mattered here were As and Bs!)
Their work on these country club courses for nerds is never done. The flower beds must be ever pristine. The quaint path of Major Donor Engraved Bricks must always be freshly weeded. The organic compost bin must persist in composting, despite the fact that the alum whose senior project was to create a “sustainable eco-solution” graduated three years ago and skipped town.
Like a case of Natural Ice beer, they are often blamed when things look askew, personal responsibility be damned.
You scholars may take notice of them when the sound of their mower threatens to drown out the lecture on Latin American Colonialism that has never before found your attention so rapt, or when the smell of mulch clouds your ability to concentrate. (A three-hour power nap has proven to remedy this).
You may also appreciate them during Parents’ Weekend when they engineer some flora and fauna that manages to mask the fetid layer of something you were not able to keep down the night before, outside your dorm room window.
Come January, though, their labors will likely once again fly under your radar. While reuniting after winter break, giddy that you will have managed to retain your athletic scholarships despite a grade point average that matched your blood alcohol level every Thirsty Thursday of fall semester, the landscaping team will be busily burying tulip bulbs in the frozen dirt of the soulless, snowy winter.
As the tulips emerge in late spring, timed perfectly for the arrival of Reunion Weekend, please believe that your careless trampling of said tulips while on a post-final exam bender will prompt Concerned Alumni to express how perhaps “The Lawn Guys” could have better incorporated the school colors. (Given that said colors are blue and gray and the landscapers were fresh out of the House of Ravenclaw bulbs, they opted for Gryffindor, to the lament of Concerned Alumni everywhere).
So be kind, scholars, and do right by the college campus landscapers. Respect and appreciate the grounds on which you tread. Do not be counted among the most fragile flowers on campus lest you be found unfit to last another season, summarily tossed into the compost bin, which, as you know, must be sustained.