Friday, April 24, 2009

Wait . . . is this all, like, my doing?

It's well known that seemingly inconsequential actions can have unexpected, far-reaching consequences. Most of the time we never find out what effects our actions will have on the universe.

Sometimes, though, we do. Here's an example.

My senior year of college, I lived in a co-op dorm, in which we shared communal responsibility for cooking, cleaning, etc. I was in charge of job charts--making sure everyone did a certain number of jobs per week. Over the years, a tradition had developed of including various "fun" jobs that people could sign up for: masseuse (had to accept random massage requests from other co-op residents), baker (had to provide baked goods at various times during the week--extra substances with the purpose of making one "baked" purely optional), and . . . streaker.

Spring semester, we had a problem. One of our residents kept signing up to be the dorm streaker, but as far as any of us could tell, he never actually streaked. Essentially, this meant that he was getting out of doing an hour of work each week.

And so, the task of enforcing our "streaker policy" fell to me.

Our conversation went something like this.

"Hey, Matt, the other co-op officers and I have noticed that you keep signing up for 'streaker'."


"Yeah, well, we've also noticed--that is, uh, have you actually, like, streaked at all?"

"Oh, yeah. Last week I walked naked from my room to the bathroom once."

"Okay, well, that doesn't really count. Look, if you're going to keep signing up as streaker, then you have to actually streak. As in, someone has to actually see you."

"Oh. Okay, no problem."

My duty was done. I'd given him a clear choice: sign up for a real job, or actually do the whole streaking thing.

He chose the latter. The following evening, as I sat in my room struggling with the details of a proof involving mathematical group theory, I suddenly heard a booming voice from the hallway:

"Greetings! Let it be known, that I . . . am STREAKING!"

And so he was. He sauntered casually* down the hallway, continually announcing his presence, then wandered out into the floor's lounge and into the next hallway, as all the while girls peeked out of their rooms and giggled.

*Incidentally, he had red hair--everywhere.

He continued to do this a couple of times a week for the remainder of the semester.

Evidently, he really enjoyed it.

Soon, our dorm was no longer a big enough arena. He started streaking various locations on campus, and recruited some of his friends to join him.

After he graduated, his friends continued the practice--and apparently, for them, even the entire campus was not enough.

The eventual result of my conversation with Matt?

See for yourself.


  1. So there it is. You have the super power of suggestion. Let me know if you need, you know, any direction. I could whip up a list in a jiffy.

  2. Yes. Times like this, I'm truly proud of where I come from. Namely, the co-op. :-)

  3. So... just to get this straight: there are unattractive people baring their all the length and breadth of the nation, and it's all your fault? Because you couldn't bear the thought of someone weaselling out of an hour of chores?

    Thanks. Thanks a bunch.

  4. vet: that's it precisely. And you're welcome.

    Nodress (no pun intended): actually I probably could use some direction. Go ahead; direct away.

    Joanna: Long live the spirit of the co-op!