Not Paid To Be Your Friend

Kaibab Huachuca Dorm

This picture captures an element of what it meant to live on campus in 1984 at the University of Arizona. I don’t remember why they even had the picture taken. I guess it was a typical “take your picture for some money” kind of approach. Anyways, we all got dressed up as you can see and wore our best. I remember trying to find party type things (which most were free from some previous sponsored party). I’m sitting next to Brad Grunberg (before he got famous).

Here we are at Kaibab-Huachuca dorm in the basement. They had rounded us up and for some reason I thought it was a good idea to look “good”. Obviously Brad felt the same way. As the rest of them, they were a bit cold fish.

Actually it was quite out of character for me to do this so it isn’t a very good representative picture of me. I still know some of the names in the picture besides Brad. The man front and center is Mark Plante. At the time he was a very devout body builder. I roomed with him that year and I remember the smell of that terrible powder that body builders drink. The smell really lingers. Perhaps it would be best to declare it worse than smelly socks but not as bad as rotting food.

The banner in the back says “We’re not paid to be your friend”. This was made as a joke in reference to our Resident Assistant Dan saying that he wasn’t paid to be our friend. I think it is one of the first things he said to us. I remember he being a fairly tough talker but had an actual soft side.

I was a well seasoned Sophomore by this point so the initial rebellious stage had passed. I was sorry to see people from the wing leave but obviously they had more sense to either move into their own apartments or share places with their girlfriends.

The previous year I had spent time with two different roommates. The first roommate was from hell. Basically he was a spoiled brat from California that decided that school meant joining a fraternity and partying non-stop. I was a bit too conservative for that in the beginning. His side of the room was always trashed and stank. He dressed well but had no respect any thing or person besides himself. Obviously we didn’t get along. Within the first six months, he managed to self-destruct and was quickly returned to LA. It was not a good introduction to dorm life.

However, in the next term I roomed with Mike Dickinson. He really was a fun guy and had lots of practical advice for someone as naive as me. We got along great and I learned to relax and just enjoy living on campus. Mike is one of those people I wish I had someone managed to keep in touch with. He was just one of those all around good guys. I sometimes imagine that he is running some company on the east coast given that he was originally from Connecticut. Very smart guy with the right kind of attitude.

Mike Dickinson

Most of the really interesting things had happened during my first year but there were still plenty of surprises for the second year as well. I started dating Kim Hamm in the fall of 1984. We were very compatible and dated for several years before breaking it off in 1987. At the time our dorm was not co-ed and it was difficult to meet women. I had volunteered to help Freshman learn about what it takes to live on campus. The university was trying to make it easier to get students to adjust since the failure rate of leaving was still fairly high. The program had a name and I did some training for it. The pay wasn’t great but it was an expansive experience given the nature of what happened.

I was assigned Freshman from the dorm across the street, Arizona-Sonora. Through a series of events, I met people that eventually led me to Kim over at Coronado. It was an active time for everyone. All this energy and not sure quite what to do with it.

Our wing over at Kaibab was now full of new freshman as well. It was like watching history repeat itself. Strange to be the one with the experience to see the patterns.

Basically it goes something like this.

  1. Gain independence from parents
  2. Don’t do anything you are supposed to
  3. Do everything you were told never to do
  4. Learn from the painful mistakes the following days and weeks
  5. Eventually realize that you are meant to learn something at school
  6. Study and figure out how you are going to graduate
  7. Leave with a piece of paper that says you did the right things

I could never go back to this time due to not having the energy to do it again. I wouldn’t mind reliving a few scenes/events from a distance however.

Looking back, it was a good time to be a poor student. I made a lot of friends, had some fun, and then moved on to the next act of my life.

It does make you wonder how other people’s lives have turned out. Usually you never hear from them again but every once and awhile you’ll be surprised. Perhaps they’ll Google themselves 🙂


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