Friday, May 09, 2008

Whew! What a week!

Sorry I haven't posted, folks, but it's been a busy week where I work. I work in a university library, and this is finals week. We've been knee-deep in studying students, and it can get rather crazy-hectic during this week.

Plus, we've had more than our share of characters. I don't think these people would normally act in the unpleasant way that they do, but the stress of finals probably pushes them into behavior patterns that they normally wouldn't exhibit. Normally we try to be understanding of the pressures that they're under, but once in a while someone goes beyond what even finals-induced stress would bring out. Thing is, these kids need to learn that there are good ways and bad ways of handling stress, and that's part of what the college experience is about.

Today is the last day for finals, and we won't have near the number of studying students that we had on Wednesday, but they'll still be coming. And tomorrow, some will graduate. The ends of semesters are always the hardest part of my job, because we usually lose student workers to graduation. I get rather used to some of them, and when they move on, I miss them. It's part of the job, though, to help them prepare for that moment when they leave. Our job is to provide a work environment for them to learn from, so that they can take that experience out into the work force.

Most often, even those that have gotten pretty attached to working here will simply drop out of sight once they make the Big Leap. Sure, they may send an e-mail or three after graduation, but it's rare that they stay in touch after a few months. By then, they're at their new jobs and still settling in to make time to check in on us.

Once in a while - usually during Homecoming - we'll see some of those familiar faces. I'm always amazed at the changes they've gone through - especially in appearance. Back when they worked for us, they were used to dressing very casually, almost slobs in some instances. However, when I see them again, they are dressed very professionally. It's like I'm looking at a whole 'nother person, and in a sense, I guess I am. Even this one dude who had a beard, long hair tied back, and wore nothing dressier than a t-shirt, shorts and sandals virtually the entire time I knew him while an undergraduate returned some months later clean-cut and bare-faced. Mr. Liberal became Mr. Establishment!

Don't get me wrong - there are some bad eggs whom I'm glad are graduating, and hopefully they'll learn lessons out in the workforce that they apparently didn't learn with us. However, such students are far and few between - the exception, rather than the rule. For the most part, I like my student workers, and that's why the ends of semesters can be so difficult. Sometimes some go on to grad school and hang around a little longer - and once in a blue moon, some come back as employees of the university.

However, the vast majority move on and we never hear from them again. Once in a while I like to look at the yearbook from recent years and see if I can still remember some of them. Most often I do, although the further back it's been, the less I remember them and their personalities. That's just what comes from having known a parade of students that I've known in my time at the library. But each adds a little something to my life, and I hope that I've added a little something to theirs. If they're doing well in their new lives, then hopefully their experiences with us are part of the reason why.

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