Saturday, January 29, 2011

On Guard - Off Duty

During my junior year, JohnW (my roommate) and his friend StanW signed up to "protect" the campus during football season. The thought was that students from other schools might show up and do some "unsavory" stuff on campus. There were four student guards; two stationed in front of the library and two down at the athletic field. One of the guys was assigned to ride a bicycle around campus each hour. If a problem occurred, guards had a whistle to summon help (from where or how was a bit of a mystery).

John asked me to stand in for him one night while he caught up on his studies. I visited the guard post that evening and found the guards huddled on loungers in sleeping bags under the library lights and decided this was a piece of cake. The next night I was on duty. I was assigned to the "A" field with one other guard. He went up to the top of the broadcast booth where he had a light while I stood watch at the entrance to the field. John had told me that whoever went to the broadcast booth usually went there to sleep, so I had drawn the short straw so to speak.

It's dark at the 'A' field. Around midnight, I noticed a car coming over the railroad tracks and slowly drive by. It went beyond the river and turned around at Victory park. It slowly returned and stopped in front of me. From the car one of the guys called out - "What are you doing?" "I'm guarding the campus." With that three guys get out of the car and head for me. One says - "How'd you like to go for a ride?" "Don't think so" - says I. What to do? I expect backup guard is fast asleep on the roof of the booth and it's a ways to campus. Dutifully, I blow my trusty whistle. Meanwhile these guys produce a rope, surround me and start to tie me up. Just then the guard on the bicycle comes over the railroad tracks - toward us. "What's going on?" I call out, "these guys want to take me for a ride." "What?", as bicycle comes closer. With that one of the guys from the car lights out for the guard on the bike. Guard and bike head off in the nick of time - but headed for Victory Park. Big help that was.

I get in the car with these guys who turn out to be students from Olivet - our football opponent for this coming weekend. After a few minutes, the rope is loose; I take it off and hand it to my captors. They offer me a beer since there seems to be plenty. "No thanks - where are we going?" "Just for a ride." So we drive around the north side of town for several hours; my only concern is that these guys are pretty well wacked and are driving a pretty crooked line. Meanwhile, back at campus, guard on the bicycle loops around Victory Park and finally arrives back on campus. They call the campus maintenance chief who organizes a search party.

A couple of hours pass. I'm the only sober one in the car, so I volunteer to drive. The Olivet guys almost accept my offer but then figure maybe not such a good idea. "Well then, how about dropping me off so you guys can get some rest someplace?" That idea sounds better. They took me to the Delt house, dropped me off and then rambled our of town, never to be seen again. I walked back to the library around sun-up and learn that the campus maintenance crews are out looking for me ( 2 or 3 trucks were driving around for three or four hours looking for the car that took me).

Looking on the bright side, you can learn something from almost any experience. I learned I couldn't count on my fellow guard asleep on top of the booth; I learned (to my surprise) my whistle worked; and I learned that if you keep a sober head when everyone else is getting drunk, you stand a pretty good chance of getting things done your way.