I’m the opposite of a pack rat. In fact, I hate clutter so much that my wife spends most of every Sunday night sorting through the trash that I have readied for pick-up the next day. She’s concerned that in my compulsive “tidying” I might throw away something of value. Okay, maybe I was a bit hasty trashing that album full of photos of her great grandfather, but they were in black and white. You can’t keep everything.
The only thing I have trouble throwing away is old periodicals. Hundreds of Time magazines, for example, are piling up - about seven years of them. Why? I have always believed history repeats itself, and if that starts happening, I could cancel my subscription and save a few bucks by simply re-reading old issues in my basement. Honestly, I’m not 100 percent sure that history really repeats itself. I did repeat it in the ninth grade.
Another publication I have stacked in a corner of my office is the George Washington University Alumni Magazine. I seldom read it because I know there is no chance I’m going to be mentioned in it. Most of the folks who earn a shout-out are either CEOs of mega-corporations, lobbyists, celebrities or men and women who have passed on but had the foresight to hand over half their fortune to the GWU endowment. I am in none of those categories and the result is that I am considered alumnus non grata.
I think every university has an obligation to celebrate all graduates, even average Joes like me. Here’s the kind of thing I’d like the association to print sometime:
Eric Henchman (Class of ‘67): Eric blew off his senior year, spending most of his time in the pool room at the all-women’s dorm. Fortunately for him, his dad left him a boatload of cash, none of which this office has ever seen. But he’s a nostalgic guy and still occasionally hangs out at the girls’ dorm, just for old time’s sake.
Jane Margolis (Class of ‘73): Jane graduated with a 2.6 grade point average. In fact, just about everything about Jane was average. She married her high school sweetheart, Ted; has three grown kids; and is one of the youngest Wal-mart greeters in Chevy Chase, Md. She has never donated to the university, but always ends our fundraising calls to her by saying, “Have a nice day.”
Dan Soloway (Class of 2007): Dan is the most recent graduate to end up in the slammer. He received his BA in criminology, so his family is hoping it’s all part of some unfinished project for a term paper. Dan does not give to the alumni association, probably because we can’t reach him by phone during the dinner hour.
Dick Wolfsie (Class of ‘69): Dick was a big shot on campus from 1965 to 1969, but he has generally been a disappointment to all of us who expected great things (and a lot of money) from him since then. He spent nine years teaching at his former high school and could often be found after school meeting with the very teachers who had kept him after school just four years earlier. He left teaching in 1980 and has bounced around local TV in Indiana for about 30 years. He always seems to be in between jobs, and coincidentally it’s whenever we call him for a donation.
I’m not optimistic about getting a mention in that alumni magazine in the near future. But I’m still relatively young. Based on what’s in my basement, I have plenty of Time.