It’s a strange thought that Franciscan University students after this year’s freshman class won’t know the pain of having to walk all the way up to the academic buildings to print something out. Now, they can just print papers in their dorms (theoretically).
This year’s seniors are the last class to know the frustration of having to physically swipe their ID cards to open the doors to the dorms. We’re also the last class who was on the fateful 2016 March for Life bus trip when, as freshmen, we sat surrounded by snow on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for 32 hours.
Soon, the majority of students won’t remember what it was like not to have guest swipes to offer their visitors at the caf. On that note, they also won’t remember the horrors of Parkhurst’s infused water obsession in 2015-2016. (Bonus points to the brave souls who actually tried the jalapeño infused water.)
Classes entering after 2017 don’t hold memories of when the water line on main campus broke and students were drinking bottled water in the caf and filling their water bottles at the giant water truck behind St. Thomas More Hall.
It strikes me that all the memorable events like these seem worthy of complaint. Many of the things mentioned above were the most memorable not because they were fun at the time but because they were miserable or frustrating.
There is a certain joy in commiseration, and the frustrations of the old and new print systems, for example, are undoubtedly a great conversation starter.
Yet no matter how many improvements are made upon old systems, we shall always find something to complain about. Parkhurst has certainly improved its options since it began to cater for Franciscan in 2015, but everyone still makes jokes about how terrible the food is. The printing system is certainly more convenient, if still imperfect, but everyone will continue to harp on its flaws.
Why do we spend our time together at Franciscan complaining? With millions of subject topics, we choose the ones that disgust us, bother us or inconvenience us.
I think it’s part of the flawed human nature to remember the negative and forget the positive. My mother once took my half-brother to a New Year’s Eve party at a pub as a young adult, and he apparently had a wonderful time in the moment, but all he remembers about that night, looking back, was that the bathroom was cold.
It’s funny, of course, and we laugh about it, but it’s also rather sad. Why do we remember the negative things? Why are our miserable experiences burned in our minds?
The fact is that the negative is memorable because it defies our expectations. When everything goes according to our well-laid plans, there is no reason for our memories to hold on to those moments. There’s no story to tell there, and we love telling the stories of our misadventures.
When our plans are thwarted and something gets stuck — be it the printer, a bus or a water pipe — it’s an opportunity not only for a good story but also for the bonding of people. I know that inconveniences have certainly brought me closer to people in the past, and they will continue to do so.
Gratitude is not a quality of character that should be reserved for the third week in November. I think it is time for us to reexamine our gratitude, or our lack of it, in light of the positive rather than the negative.
There will always be something to complain about. But will that thing truly matter a few years from now, other than being a good story to tell? Let’s come together by making the most of these inconveniences and moving past them rather than dwelling on them.
“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.” — G.K. Chesterton