I got the call when I was resting after a long day of hacking at the Democratic National Committee. As I was sleeping on a typical college futon that was as comfortable as laying on a pallet covered by cardboard, my phone rang. It was only ringing with one ring: an on-campus call. I thought it could not be all that important.
Anyway, I didn’t want to talk to anyone because there was a good chance that it was someone who wanted to comment on the front-page article in The GW Hatchet about my financial difficulties. Let them leave a message. I wanted to hide.
The phone was all the way in the front room, but I could still hear the message over my unconsciousness and “M*A*S*H” on television (it’s always on some channel at any time of the day if you want to watch people who have it worse than you).
“This is Dan at Housing Services. Please give us a call at 4-2770 as soon a possible.”
Had my appeal been finally heard? Was it accepted? Was it denied?
I had appealed to higher-ups in the administration to waive my $300 housing deposit. I couldn’t afford it. My parents couldn’t either. Maybe this God-forsaken school went on a mystical journey to Oz to get a brain, a heart and courage.
It was a little after 4 p.m. when the squeaky voice left the message. But, I wanted to sleep a little longer. Right. I just didn’t want to face what may happen. Rejection was something I didn’t need.
Sleep? Try to sleep when your last semester at college is in limbo. Never let a clinically depressed person stew in his own juices that are so acidic that he will either implode or burn down Rice Hall.
Sanity ruled the day and I called an hour later. I sat on my bed and played back the message.
“Can I speak to Dan?”
Dan got on the other line and said that “a friend” had sent over $300 for my housing deposit. My stomach dropped to the floor. I wanted to know who, but couldn’t ask.
“I’ll be over right now. Where are you located?”
I burst out of Munson Hall and headed for New Hall, stewing in my juices once again. I felt anxious and a little nauseated.
Who would do such a thing for me? Was it one of the friends who wanted to loan me money that I earlier refused?
I stormed across rush-hour traffic on 23rd Street and headed south right into a brisk wind, which wasn’t so bad because the sun was still out. My eyes were fixed on the sidewalk so I would not be stopped by anyone I knew. People invariably know when something is wrong.
Cutting across H Street, my anxiety grew even worse. Students were now on the streets just getting out of classes. Any one of them could have been me if I hadn’t skipped.
I followed someone who had access to the building. The residence hall still had its new car smell. Straight ahead was housing services. Great – a line.
A taller underclassman was in front of me and asking the lady behind the counter who to make out his deposit check. Must be nice able to whip out the money just like that. Rich dork, I thought to myself.
My turn. All the workers were organizing stacks of papers. They looked like they wanted to get out of there and get away from the ungrateful college students.
“I’m Aaron Albright. Is there something for me?” I stuttered as I asked. The lady at the counter turned around and said that I was here.
“This was left for you. It’s all there. You can count it,” said the guy who was obviously Dan.
The small blue envelope was handed to me. It had a wad of cash in it and a typed letter:
“February 4, 1999
To whom it may concern:
I would like to donate $300 to the Community Living and Living Center.
This money is to be used in the following way – It is to be used to pay for Aaron Albright’s housing deposit, which is due Feb. 5 to ensure that he will be able to remain on campus for the forthcoming year.
Thank you very much.
That’s how it happened. Dan was smiling. So were the other workers behind their piles of papers.
But, I looked back down to the floor. I was angry. I left so no one could see me in my anger, which should had been joy.
I realized that someone cared about me. That feeling is so alien to me that I picked anger instead of joy.
Well, thank you, friend. Whoever you are.
-The writer is a senior majoring in journalism.