Cornell-Penn-Wharton

Opportunity is Sometimes Thrust Upon Us

On the Saturday morning when it was time to drive me to my first day at Cornell, my father was up before 5AM.  We left our house well before 5:30 and arrived at my new dorm in Ithaca by 10 am.  After quickly moving in, I hugged and kissed my parents, said good-bye, and watched them go…

I felt exhilarated! 

Then a sense of panic descended upon me.

While I missed my mom, I realized that I was now completely without a typist.  While I had to take a typing (that’s what we used to call word processing) class in 11th grade, I never had the speed and accuracy she did.  My mother had always typed my papers.  She could type 90 words a minute on a manual typewriter with no errors!  She loved typing my papers almost as much as she loved to cook and watch me eat.

Now she was gone!  I was alone.  With no typist.  Instant terror.

I thought, “I have to find someone who can type my papers.” Time to be resourceful.

I walked the mile or so up Libe Slope, through the Arts Quad, across Triphammer Bridge to the girls’ dorms.  I went to Clara Dickson Hall, which was 5-stories high with no elevator. 

At the unloading dock, there was a sad scene of station-wagons, nice cars, some with trailers, all packed with coed’s belongings for the school year.  There were also upper-middle class, middle-aged, slightly out of shape men looking forlorn with the challenge of getting all of their daughters’ belongings upstairs to their rooms.  The wives looked worried at the prospect of their husbands’ pending heart attacks as they struggled to carry their daughter’s belongings up 4 or 5 flights of stairs.

Sensing an opportunity, I shouted, “Who’s on the 4th or 5th Floor?  I’ll be happy to help.” 

I explained that my parents had already left, I was all moved in, and that I was desperate to try to meet someone who might be willing to help type some of my papers in the coming term. 

I quickly made 3 or 4 trips up the flights of stairs in the time that the first girl’s dad made one.  The thankful dads offered me cash, which I declined until they insisted, pressed on by the grateful mothers. 

After a few hours, I had about $100 in my pocket, and some phone numbers plus grateful offers to help (with typing) from 6 or 7 of the girls.  The mothers hugged and kissed me.

I realized how resourcefulness is sometimes thrust upon us. If you don’t panic and look for the opportunities, they are usually there for you.  Do the right thing without thinking of the personal benefit.  Long term it will work out right.  It takes some initiative; but the results can be glorious. 

My panic was gone.  My pockets were full and I even had some dates later that year.  But my mother was still a better typist.

1 comment on “Opportunity is Sometimes Thrust Upon Us

  1. I lived in Dickson Hall my Freshman year.
    I never learned to type.

    Like

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