When I was growing up, I didn’t have many reasons to pay attention to when the students were at Clemson. I knew Dad went back to teaching when I started back to school, and I knew that we stayed off the roads during the weekends of football season. Especially the year that the Carolina Panthers were building a new stadium. That year, they used Death Valley on the weekends that Clemson didn’t have any home games. So, pretty much, you didn’t go anywhere on the weekend. You’d be trapped in traffic, forever.
Even my one lone semester at Clemson (college wasn’t for me) was spent away from campus, as much as possible. If your parents live in town, you don’t have to live in the dorms for your freshman year… well, not unless you want to. And I didn’t want to.
So, the sudden influx of students, as I began my cashier job on campus, was a bit startling. For the two days of orientation, you could glimpse the groups of freshmen taking tours, even through our location, and then Wednesday arrived. It was like the skies opened and poured out students, instead of rain. Don’t get me wrong, they’re extremely polite and friendly, by and large, but it was a bit overwhelming.
Before long, you start to recognize faces, as my workplace is near all the engineering buildings. My dad taught, and my brothers went to classes all over this section, so I’m familiar with the area. So, the local professors stop by for coffee, several times a day, making me wonder why they don’t have coffee pots in their offices… or is that against the rules?
Professor Goldpaper comes in once a day to get a small cup of coffee, but as he’s usually a tea drinker, he won’t buy a Clemson travel mug, and get the discount on the refills. He always insists that he only wants a receipt if it’s printed on gold or silver paper. I tell him that my managers haven’t figured out where to buy that kind, yet. Sushi Guy likes the sushi so much that he comes back for seconds (and it isn’t cheap) within half an hour, and is completely shocked when I tell him that I’ve never tried it. Raw fish just sounds weird.
With the students back in town, we’ve also tripled (or is it quadrupled?) Clemson’s population. When I was in Australia, I had some friends ask how big my hometown is, and I never knew the answer to that question. In Emerald, Queensland, they have a higher population during the week, because a lot of miners fly in from Rockhampton to work, and you can’t get a hotel room during the week, for love or money. But when the weekend arrives, they all fly home, and the population takes a nosedive.
Well, at Clemson, this happens in the fall and spring, and then our city takes a population dive in the summer. It’s been said that if the students were allowed to vote as residents of Clemson, they could take over the town’s government. Not that they haven’t taken over everything else, because in a way, the amount of restaurants and hotels (and anything else you can think of) are here because of the University and the football fans. And, of course, everything in town is orange and purple, causing a friend of mine to once suggest that she was constantly expecting people to jump out and burst into song, because it was like being in a musical, and not like reality. To me, it’s just normal.
Just some observations, as my job gets going, and pre-football insanity. Maybe I’ll have some interesting stories to share, as the days move along. And now, one more week until my Labor Day trip!